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Longtime DPW worker retires

Al Kensil retired after working for the City of Cedar Springs for over 30 years.

Residents may have noticed recently that a once familiar face on Cedar Springs’ city streets has been missing. That’s because Al Kensil, who just turned 70 years old, has retired from the city after working for the Department of Public Works for 31-1/2 years.

And for 28 of those years, Kensil served as foreman.

“It’s been a good experience, the city treated me well,” he said. “It’s not a job where you are going to get rich, but it’s steady.”

Kensil said one of the things he liked about the job was the variety. The DPW is responsible for all parts of the water and sewer for the city, such as running the collections stations and distribution system. They put chemicals in the wells, and monitor them daily by taking water samples from all three wells.

The wastewater treatment is also their responsibility. They monitor the system, as well as check the city sewer lines if a resident has a backup. Kensil said one of the things that people flush down toilets that cause clogs and backups is the supposedly flushable wipes. “They get stuck in the propeller. They don’t disintegrate and it’s bad for us,” he said.

Kensil noted that some jobs, like a sewer collapse, might be contracted out if it’s a big job. But the DPW would still be on site every day it’s being worked on.

Other jobs the DPW handles are burials and maintenance at the cemetery; installing traffic signs; park maintenance; tree work; road work such as painting lines and filling potholes; hanging banners; helping out with community events; and more. And Kensil has done it all. But his favorite thing was working with the people in town.

“I had a good repertoire with residents. If I could help a resident out, I felt good about that. And there are good people down at City Hall, too; they are concerned about the residents. It helps when you can put yourself in their position (the residents) and have compassion for them,” he remarked.

Kensil noted that he had worked underground construction before hiring on at the city and so knew about water mains and such. After getting the job, he got his lagoon and water licenses. “It took a couple of years and a lot of studying, but it was worth it,” he said.

He noted that now DPW departments are looking for people that already have their licenses and degrees, or have the capability to get them. “The license is important. And it belongs to you, not the city,” he explained.

Kensil’s last official day at the City was last Thursday, May 31, though he took some personal time off ahead of time that he had built up. He said he’s got a bucket list of things he’d like to do. One of them was heading off last weekend to go fishing off Sugar Island, in Michigan’s UP. “I’d also like to go to Israel once more, and back to Alaska,” he explained.

He noted that he’d also like to meet up again with a couple of comrades from when he served in Viet Nam.

So what will Kensil miss the most about no longer working for the City? “I’ll miss the people there and the residents. But I’ll probably still go down there and bug them from time to time,” he said with a chuckle.

 

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