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Andy Mack to retire as Bemidji's public works director

City of Bemidji Public Works Director Andy Mack stands outside the new Public Works facility as he announces he will retire. An open house reception will be held from 3-4:30 p.m. Friday at the Public Works facility, 1351 Fifth St. N.W. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

When asked what he will miss the most, Andy Mack smiles and offers this:

"Oh, I'll miss the people," he said. "I'm a people person."

Mack, the city's public works director since 2000, will retire Friday. A reception, open to the public, is planned for 3-4:30 p.m. at the city's new Public Works Facility on Fifth Street Northwest.

Mack first joined the city in 1998 as assistant public works director and took over the top job in 2000.

"I like what I do," he said. "I like getting up in the morning and going to work."

He jokingly refers to his job as head of the "complaint department."

"The buck kind of stops here in the maintenance side of things," he said. "Whatever the city builds, we operate."

Mack has lived in Bemidji since 1967. Prior to joining the city's staff, he worked as a consultant and owned Viking Pipe Services.

As public works director, Mack oversaw about 20 employees in street maintenance, building maintenance, sewer and water, refuse and the city's wastewater treatment plant. He also used to oversee the parks department, which had been under the public works department. But, the parks department was separated once former superintendent Dan Haluptzok retired and Marcia Larson was named the new parks and recreation director.

"You spend eight hours sleeping and eight hours working," Mack said. "You spend more time with our co-workers than you with your soul mate."

He credits any successes during his tenure to the work of his staff, calling them a "tremendous team."

One of those successes is the completion of the city's $8 million Public Works Facility, which was finished and opened in 2008.

The building houses staff from the public works, parks, sewer and water and engineering departments. The garage and shop areas are equipped to house and care for the city's vehicles.

"This building here is going to last the city 100 years," Mack said. "It's a nice building."

The city of Bemidji has been aware of Mack's pending retirement since last year, as he had stated his intentions of resigning when he turned 66, which he did in April.

On Monday, Craig Gray, now the city engineer, will become Bemidji's public works director/city engineer as the two positions will be joined together.

"He'll do a tremendous job," Mack said of Gray.

He also complimented the entire team and said those who have taken on new roles because of the re-organization of the public works will do well. Todd Anderson will become the water and sewer superintendent and Randy Haugan will be the street superintendent,

Mack's wife, Marjorie, has been retired for seven years, and, while Mack knows she has compiled a "honey-do list" throughout those years, Mack thinks they'll first enjoy their time together.

"I've been working for 42 years," he said.

With four children and four grandchildren, Mack said they are planning to travel and go camping. Their first destination is Williamsburg, Va., by train.

Their permanent address, however, will remain local.

"Bemidji is home," Mack said. "We may leave for winter at some time, but this is home. I have no intention of leaving."

Retirement also will offer Mack the opportunity to spend more time with hobbies, such as restoration of old machines, and volunteering through his church, St. Philip's Catholic Church. He also serves on board of the Beltrami County History Center.