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Mickey Verbeck Sr. has officially retired from the City of Salmon after almost 35 years of service to the community. His last day as Public Works Supervisor was December 31, 2012. On Friday, January 11, he was the honored guest of a retirement party luncheon at the City Shop hosted by the city staff and Public Works Crew.

Mayor Leo Marshall acted as Master of Ceremonies and gave him a framed thank you from the city. Marshall said “This certified certificate is presented to Mickey Verbeck in appreciation for outstanding, dedicated service to our community.” Marshall congratulated Verbeck on his ‘new venture’ and wished him well. Speaking on behalf of the city crew and staff newly appointed Public Works Superintendent Harry Shanafelt gave Verbeck a literal going away present to make camping even more enjoyable, a portable outdoor cook stove.

Verbeck said some road trips are definitely in the future however he won’t be going away for a while since there is a lot of catching up to do on home projects. Perhaps next year there will be a camper trip to Alaska and maybe a winter time trip to Louisiana.

In the meantime he’s just adjusting to the lack of stress. Verbeck said in a small rural area where everyone knows everyone there is no such thing as office hours for a public works superintendent. Due to familiarity and easy access the job quickly becomes 24/7 with immediate answers expected on everything from leaks to potholes to signs to utility expenses to overhanging trees. Verbeck said he won’t miss that part.

The noon time retirement party took place on a day with temperatures barely above zero and a wind out of the north, which was actually quite appropriate.

Verbeck first came to Salmon in late 1978 after a brief relocation search in Alaska where he decided he preferred the wide open spaces of Idaho and was returning to Idaho Falls, by way of Salmon. As he was passing through he stopped to interview for a job opening. He said, “I was hired because the city had everything froze up that winter. That was our bad winter and they needed help so I was hired right on the spot and have been here ever since.” Verbeck said all the surface water had frozen, all the main lines and service lines were frozen, there was not enough water to supply the town and the city water system was just sucking air.

There have been many major city infrastructure improvement projects since the winter of 1978-79 such as the water plant, sewer plant, lining of sewer pipes as well as several miles of water line installations and repairs. Verbeck said, “We’ve come a long ways.”

He said that probably the hardest project for the community to accept was the installation of water meters and yet as it turns out it put Salmon ahead of the curve. He said Idaho Falls is just now being forced into the very costly process of installing water meters as are many other areas. Installation costs are not only higher now than when the city put them in place, the meters are currently necessary in order to establish water rates, which are necessary in order to secure the federal monies most often needed for federally required upgrades.

The job of Public Works Supervisor is not an easy one and Verbeck said it would have been even tougher had he not had the support of City Clerk Mary Benton and the City Hall staff as well as the mayor and council. He thanked everyone on his crew and offered his very best wishes to Public Works Superintendent Shanafelt.

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