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Hey Bill, we’ll keep the light on for you now

Olesen wraps up 33-year career with city of Estherville

October 1, 2012
Estherville Daily News

To be able to say that respect for employment and commitment to the job were wrapped around time in five decades is an admirable accomplishment.

And this is a commendable reflection on Estherville native Bill Olesen as he retires after 33 years as an employee with the City of Estherville. His final work day as is Friday, Oct. 5, 2012.

"I would like to thank (former City Administrator) Steve Woodley and the City Council for first giving me the opportunity to have a long career with the City. I've been blessed and am very appreciative to our City Administrator Penny Clayton and the current members of City Council also," Olesen said.

Article Photos

Bill Olesen has helped keep the lights on in Estherville the past 13 years and will retire this Friday after 33 years with the city.
EDN photo by David Swartz

It was Dec. 17, 1979, when Olesen got the nod for employment at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. He was hired as a truck driver and relief operator under former WWTP Superintendent Rick Ashling. During his 20-year stint at WWTP, he also worked under Superintendent Paul Barnes. Olesen was elevated to Grade I Operator on May 30, 1980, and Grade II Operator on Sept. 7, 1981.

On May 24, 1999, the City transferred Olesen to the Power Plant where he has worked in the capacity of plant operator/maintenance for the past 13-plus years.

In that time he worked under Power Plant Superintendent Bob Jensen and then Superintendent Pete Redinius who oversaw the power plant and electrical distribution when Jensen retired. Olesen currently works for Electrical Distribution Superintendent Mitch Eveleth and Bret Mace, Power Plant Foreman.

Fact Box

Reception on Friday

The public is cordially invited to a Retirement Coffee for Bill Olesen from 2-4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 5, 2012 in the Estherville Council Chambers, 2 N. Seventh St.

Olesen is grateful for the stable work environment of the past 33 years and noted other attributes that lured him to apply for employment with the city include "great benefits, the potential opportunity to advance within departments and the security of IPERS (Iowa Public Employees Retirement System). Even at the age of 22, I was smart enough to know IPERS was going to be important later on in my life."

His most memorable moment was the excitement surrounding Y2K in the year 1999. That was when the whole world was concerned on whether computer equipment and other technological equipment would make the smooth transition and roll over to the Year 2000.

"Mr. Woodley gave the directive that we should be at the Power Plant on New Year's Eve 1999, in case the City lost power in the New Year," he remembered. It was around 10 p.m. when Jensen, Mace, Olesen and Ted Hardman and arrived to start one of the plant's engines. This backup plan would help restore power to the city if the need arose.

The worry and hype were for naught.

"Nothing happened and we had no problems whatsoever. It was about 1 a.m. when we returned to our homes."

Looking forward to his retirement, Olesen plans to spend more time with his wife Chris who is employed in the dietary department at Avera Holy Family Hospital. Daughter Megan plans to receive her Master's Degree from South Dakota State University in the spring of 2013 and will pursue a career as dietitian. His mother, Lucy Olesen, also resides in Estherville.

"I will take it easy for a while once I retire," Olesen said. A few of his hobbies will take up some of his free time. "I enjoy bow hunting during deer season. My wife enjoys fishing as much as I do! I will pursue part-time employment at some point."



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