After 43 years faithful, hard working Joel Stein clocked out for the last time Thursday at 4 p.m. at the city shop.
It was a pretty relaxed Joel Stein who sat at the table in the office at the city shop Thursday afternoon during his final coffee break.
Mayor Dick Johnson stopped by to thank Stein for his 43 years of faithful service for the city of Devils Lake.
Stein’s one of those “behind the scenes” kind of guys. He’s been one of a small crew of dedicated workers driving the street sweeper, mowers and snow removal equipment since 1969, keeping the city looking nice and the streets accessible.
Some of his most memorable moments on the job have been the big snow events - the all-nighters they’ve pulled to get the streets and Highway 2 corridor through the city cleared to keep traffic moving.
“Sometimes you’d wonder if you were ever going to get home and get some sleep,” he said of those times, and there have been a few over the years.
“They just don’t make them like Joel anymore,” the mayor said.
The mayor said, in all sincerity, that he had always been impressed with how hard working and dedicated Stein was.
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen him sitting down and relaxed in this place. Normally he’s up and doing things, working on this piece of equipment or that, cleaning the sweeper, always doing something,” Johnson said.
That brought a grin from Stein.
He said he enjoyed his work for the city, keeping the town looking nice, working with the guys, “We’ve got a good crew here,” he said.
You can tell he’s going to miss coming to work each day but he says his “new boss” and wife, Virgie, has plans for him and a long “honey do” list for his attention. Plus the Steins both work for Elegant Affair and though it’s a part time job, it’s enough to keep them busy. Joel drives the truck and trailer with all the equipment and helps with the heavy lifting and Virgie tells him where it all goes as they put together wedding receptions and celebrations of all kinds around this part of the state.
They’ve been doing this for a while, too, so they know what they’re doing. “We’ve done work in Grand Forks at the Aleris, Rugby, Bottineau, Carrington - all over the area,” he said. They plan to continue working as party planners after Stein retires from the city.
Page 2 of 2 - His last act for the town will be to attend the city commission meeting on Monday, Oct. 1 but he did say, in an emergency, he would come back to help out if they needed him. There’s that dedication the mayor mentioned.
Stein is a 1962 graduate of Devils Lake Central High School. He married the former Virginia Lang, also from Devils Lake and they have two grown children, Mark and Lynette plus four grandchildren - three in college and one getting ready for college, he says.
This morning his replacement drove the street sweeper around the downtown area and Stein stayed home to have his morning coffee on the first day of his retirement.