Kusilek retires after 30 years with public works
After more than 30 years in the River Falls Public Works department, and holding nearly every position there, Operations Superintendent Terry Kusilek is officially retired.
"I still don't know if I'm ready to retire," Kusilek said on his last day. "It was a hard decision to walk away."
Kusilek had his last day last week, but he didn't slow down, said Operations Director Mike Stifter. With the snowfall at the beginning of the work, Kusilek still kept busy.
"Right up until the end he worked a 12, 13-hour day one of those days," Stifter said. "He wasn't one to say, 'well, I'm out of here.'"
Kusilek started with the department in 1985 when he wanted to have more time with his family. He grew up in River Falls and was happy to be working with the city.
"The city's been good to me," he said. "It's nice working in the community you grew up in."
As operations superintendent, Kusilek was in charge of parks, streets, vehicle maintenance and more. He first started as a streets worker.
"Then I've worked up over different positions over the years," he said.
Stifter said this has been a benefit for Kusilek in his most recent position.
"He really had seen the organization in a broad sense," Stifter said.
Kusilek said he loved working for the people of the city, from the things they see to the things they don't even realize he does.
"That's the job satisfaction - just being able to help," Kusilek said.
He always enjoyed being out at the community events all year, from River Falls Days to River Dazzle.
"I hope I've done a good job in my role," Kusilek said.
One of his biggest accomplishments, Kusilek said, is the city's snow and ice control system.
"We know we do a good job at it," he said. "That's probably the biggest impact I can have."
Stifter agreed that Kusilek's work will have a lasting impact.
"He really kind of revolutionized how we do winter maintenance," Stifter said.
The response is a well-orchestrated one. Kusilek said it's important to make sure the maintenance is done right, but not overdone.
"It's not just me, it's the crew," he said.
Now that he's retired, Kusilek said it's this crew that he'll miss the most.
"You work this long here and it's part of your life, it's your second family," he said.
With his newfound free time, Kusilek will be helping his wife with her dog grooming and boarding business at home, and his daughter and son-in-law have a few projects in mind.
"I'll keep plenty busy," he said.
Kusilek worked to prepare the organization for his transition, Stifter said, and took it seriously.
"The good thing is he shared a lot of information with us so we were left in pretty good hands," Stifter said.
The rest of the department is ready to assist, thanks to the work of Kusilek.
"We certainly know the big shoes that Terry left for all of us," Stifter said.