New lockmaster settles in at Lock and Dam 10

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Lockmaster Sam Mathiowetz served nine years active duty in the U.S. Air Force and has been a member of the Army National Guard for over eight years. He took over as lockmaster at Lock and Dam #10 on June 28. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

Lock and Dam #10 has a new lockmaster for the first time in well over a decade. When lockmaster Marvin Althoff retired after roughly 15 years, Sam Mathiowetz was hired as his replacement. Mathiowetz comes to Guttenberg from Lock and Dam #1 in Minneapolis, Minn., where he was hired in 2008 as an equipment repair site mechanic. 

The new lockmaster is a member of the Army National Guard. He grew up on a farm in Renville, Minn., and studied at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University online while serving active duty with the United States Air Force. Mathiowetz first became involved with the Army Corps of Engineers while working as a field tech for Cummins NPower of White Bear Lake, Minn., when he was assigned to a project at Lock and Dam #2 in Hastings, Minn.

Mathiowetz and his wife, Erin, moved to Guttenberg this summer when he was hired as lockmaster. Although he began his duties on June 28, at the end of July he departed for 10 weeks of National Guard training in Michigan. Now, Mathiowetz is settled into his new position. “It’s got its own unique aspects. I enjoy it; I like the culture of working together with a team. I like to get collective input and give each employee some ownership,” he said.

Preventing damage to the lock and dam itself, upkeep and repair on the lockmaster’s house, attending lockmaster’s meetings, paying bills, supervising construction, and hiring new employees are all on the lockmasters’ list of duties. Mathiowetz says scheduling issues are the most challenging part of his job, especially during the holidays and hunting seasons. “Maintenance is also always a challenge. It requires budgeting time and funds,” said the lockmaster, citing the many moving parts of a lock and dam that require routine lubrication. 

One such maintenance project wrapping up this month is re-roofing on the pier houses of the dam. Dredge spoils have also been recently transferred from McMillan Island to an area near the intersection of Great River Road and Buck Creek, and residents can look for piping to come out of the river soon as this project nears completion.

Mathiowetz is impressed by the way the operators, equipment mechanics, and other staff work together at Lock and Dam #10. “Everybody here wants to get the job done. They’re really good about give and take,” he told The Press. “It’s incredible. It’s nice to come to work with people who want to be here and want to cooperate.”

Guttenberg’s new lockmaster is a father of two, a 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son who spend summers with him and live in Vermont with their mother during the school year. His wife, Erin, works for Ameriprise Financial. She appreciates working from a home office in their residence on Acre Street, where her view of the river rivals the view from her husband’s office at Lock and Dam #10. 

“I enjoy the forest view, too,” laughs Mathiowetz, who spends recreational time hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, running, and driving ATVs. “I grew up on a farm; I’ve always been connected with nature.” He’s using his outdoor hobbies to integrate with the community, and readers may recognize him as the winner of Guttenberg Municipal Hospital’s 5K, held during GermanFest weekend.

“When the position opened, I wanted to move up and thought I could make a difference and improve the corps as a whole. I’m trying to make life better for everybody,” said Mathiowetz, who plans to spend the next several years or more as lockmaster here in Guttenberg. “I’d like to keep climbing up. You’ve got to wake up everyday with a goal – whether it’s to leave an extra penny behind, to graduate, get that next promotion, or just to smile.”

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