Gary Demel started at Barton County Road and Bridge Department over four decades ago with a shovel in his hand and rose to become the shop foreman. Monday morning, he was honored as the county’s Employee of the Quarter during the County Commission’s meeting.
The Employee Relations Committee recommends individuals for the honor. Demel was nominated as the first quarter honoree, said ERC President Wendy Birzer. “Fourty-four years of service, what else needs to be said.”
“It’s been a while,” Demel said. “It’s nice to get recognition for something you’ve put most of your life into.”
Starting at the bottom taught him a lot, he said. “I try to set a good example for young people.”
Demel said it’s been about more than just him. “I’ve worked with a lot of good people.”
He started in September 1971 as a shovel hand, but was drafted into the Army in 1972 where he served in Turkey until 1975. He returned to the department where he was a mechanic until 1988 when he became shop foreman.
“Since that time, Gary has been a diligent and reliable worker striving to keep the county’s 150-unit fleet operating as efficiently as possible,” Birzer said. In addition, he is also in charge of the county’s Golden Belt, Hillcrest and Hillcrest North memorial parks.
He also does what he can to repair equipment and research contracts to save the county money,
Demel used the GI Bill to earn a two-year degree from Barton Community College, specializing in computer technology. He and the department personnel have parlayed this training and experience to computerize Road and Bridge.
This helps store data, track information and generate reports that keep county officials and the commission informed, Demel said.
“I appreciate everything the county has done for me,” Demel said.
The feeling was mutual. Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips said Demel took over the department for three months when Phillips had health problems and has always been able to keep expenses low.
In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Approved an agreement with the City of Claflin which has requested assistance with sealing of certain roads. As an independent contractor, the county would receive a maximum of $7,500 for labor and equipment. Claflin City Attorney Robert Suelter developed the contractual agreement for the work, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said.
It is against county policy for the county to compete with private contractors who may also bid for such projects. However, the work in Clalfin is on such a small scale that the city can’t get any company to bid on it.
The county had worked with Claflin for about a decade.