Calumet losing veteran employee

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Calumet Village Street Superintendent Steve Kellow has announced his retirement to occur on May 15, leaving the Village Council the tough task of finding his replacement.

CALUMET — Calumet Village will lose a veteran employee in May when Steve Kellow retires from his position as street superintendent. If that sounds vague, it’s because anything that has to do with the streets of the village, Kellow oversees it. Than includes maintenance of the public works vehicles, snow removal, maintenance of the village’s parks and recreational areas, and even maintaining street lights.

His retirement date, he said is May 15 of this year.

“It’s my birthday,” Kellow said, “and it’s the only birthday present I’m giving myself.”

As the street superintendent, this is Kellow’s second time in that position.

Kellow was the street supintendent from 1979 to 1983, he said. His wife in that year graduated from Michigan Technological University and they moved to Green Bay, where he went to work for the Forestry Service in the Parks and Recreation Department. After his retirement from the Forestry Service, they returned to the Calumet area, and Kellow resumed his old position with the village.

Replacing someone like Kellow will not be easy for the village. Even he admits that. Replacing him was discussed at the regular monthly Village Council meeting last Tuesday.

“There’s going to be some issues that will come along, because of some of the equipment, and some of the tools,” Kellow said. “I will be eventually taking most of mine home.”

Village President Dave Geisler mentioned having discussed the issue of salary with the council previously, stating it at between $60-65,000, based on what other municipalities, such as Lake Linden, pay their superintendents.

“I think that’s a pretty good guess of where it’s going to be,” said Geisler. “It’s going to be unique, because he did have his own tools, he did do a lot of repairs on his own, and we’ll probably have to send some of that outside. If we put out an ad, and somebody from Marquette applies, we may have to pay relocation expenses as well, so…we have to consider it.”

While Kellow does most of the repairs on the village’s vehicles and equipment, he said future repairs should not be a major issue.

“There are other resources around the area,” he said. “We’ve built up a fairly good repoir with some of the local areas where we can get work done as soon as possible, so it’s not bad. There’s other resources out there.”

Trustee Virginia Dwyer asked him if he would change his mind in regards to retiring.

“The problem I’m having is I’m trying to do three jobs,” Kellow said. “My back is acting up. I’m to the point where I’m catching myself trying to hurry, and that’s going to cause problems. I tell my guys not to hurry, because that’s where equipment fails.”

While the board discussed placing advertisements for his position, Kellow said he is also trying help the village in that regard.

“I’m trying to work on one or two people that I think would be good in my position,” he said. “They’ve got the background, they’ve got the knowledge, one isn’t happy where he’s at — and he’s local.”

“I think we should consider Steve like a consultant,” Dwyer suggested, “when we have any problems or issues that would require him to come up here, or something like that, occasionally, when we’re in a bind. And I think he’s kind of receptive to that, because I think this is going to take a while, because of what we’ve got over there.”