January 03, 2022
Starting in Sept of 1987, Ken Ver Meer has been a big part of what Mahaska Rural Water is today. And this month we want to recognize these efforts as Ken retires from a long career at MRW.
Even before Ken was an employee of Mahaska Rural Water, he was working in the water utilities industry. Working for the City of Leighton, Ken worked to get his Grade 1 and 2 Water Treatment License. Eventually Ken was hired to work at MRW. At first, he was one of two guys in the field, current Manager Randy Pleima and Ken. They worked on everything from laying pipeline across the county, hooking up new customers, constantly checking on booster stations, changing fittings (sometimes in waist deep water), service calls for customers, on call every weekend and most importantly taking care of the water treatment plant. Ken remembers at the time, MRW only had around 800 pits. But with each change of season, ants would crawl up into the remotes and make them stop working. Ken laughed as he said, “I cleaned away a lot of ants.”
As the need for quality water grew throughout Mahaska County, field work grew, more guys were hired and a new treatment plant was built. Ken got his grade 3 license and took on more water treatment responsibilities. Looking back, Ken remembered, “I stopped helping in the ditches in ’94.”
Over Ken’s 34 year career, he oversaw multiple improvements to the MRW treatment plant. “The softening plant was a good addition”, said Ken, when asked which improvement was the most important. Ken worked through any new problems with his dependable and stellar work ethic, finding solutions to keep things running smoothly. Mr. Ver Meer’s determination for excellence is a huge reason why Mahaska County has award winning, safe, tasty, quality water.
Most of you have meet Ken in your yard, over your water pit, helped you find a leak, disconnected and reconnected your cabin or cattle pits each season, or located water lines for any new digging projects. Through bitter cold to blazing hot temperatures, Ken has seen and worked all over this county. With all that knowledge and experience, MRW is having a hard time letting Ken go completely. There are plans to have Ken come back to work on minor projects like exercising valves and GPS water lines. One stipulation was added to this plan by the retiree himself, “I’m only coming in on good weather days.”
Ken Ver Meer’s dedication to MRW, his attention to details, plethora of knowledge and a great looking beard will be missed. All of us, current and past, at Mahaska Rural Water have been blessed because we worked with you.
Congratulations Ken, you deserve all great things that come from retirement! Thank you!