In 1971, the average price of a home was $25,200, an average car cost $3,500 and gas was 40 cents per gallon.
Also in 1971 50 years ago, Gary Demel started working for the Barton County Road and Bridge Department. That landmark was recognized by the County Commission Tuesday morning.
“I was 2 years old,” said County Works Director Darren Williams, who is now Demel’s supervisor. “That kind of puts it into perspective.”
“I’m still here because it’s fun to come to work,” Demel said. But, “I’m looking forward to a good retirement.”
Demel said he has also stuck around for the challenges and the opportunity to grow.
He serves as shop foreman. Before being promoted to that position in 1988, he served as a driver, mechanic and welder.
“Every day seems to be a different day,” he said. “It’s not an assembly line job. You get to fix problems.”
Things are not the same as they were five decades ago, but that is good, said the Odin native. “You have to change.”
As for young people just entering the workforce, “just hang in there,” Demel said. He recalled an incident when he was much younger, after the birth of his fourth child.
Worried about how he would make ends meet, he almost resigned for a different job. His boss was willing to work with him on pay and convinced him to stay.
“Fifty years, that kind of dedication is something you don’t very often see,” said Commission Chairman Jim Daily, District 4.
Demel was drafted into the Army in 1972 and spent three years in the service, stationed among other places, in Turkey. This was at the height of the Cold War and they were close to what was then the Soviet Union.
“That was an adventure,” he said. Afterward, he returned to work for the county again.
So, the commission honored him not only for his dedication to the county, but also to the nation.
County officials were invited to a celebratory luncheon for Demel beginning at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Road and Bridge Shop, 2401 Seventh St.