‘I’ve pretty much done it all’

Posted 1/25/23

Peine’s 35-year career with City of Hastings coming to a close [email protected] 35 years ago, George Michael’s “Faith” was topping the charts, the most perfect movie ever was in the …

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‘I’ve pretty much done it all’


Peine’s 35-year career with City of Hastings coming to a close

[email protected]

35 years ago, George Michael’s “Faith” was topping the charts, the most perfect movie ever was in the theaters (The Princess Bride) along with Good Morning Vietnam, Moonstruck and Dirty Dancing. The price of a daily newspaper was 25¢, Phil Simms led the Giants over the Broncos 39-24 in the Super Bowl and was the first ever to say ‘I’m going to Disney World!” Johnny Carson and Rosanne Barr were on the top of their game, and The Simpsons started as an animated short film. The world watched Jessica McClure be rescued from a well. Mark Peine started his journey with the City of Hastings in the Parks Department.

“35 years… I’ve pretty much done at all,” said Peine. “1987 is when I got hired into the parks department as a park keeper. I worked there till 1992. When I was in the parks department, things were way different than they are now. We used to flood skating rinks from fire hydrants, we didn’t have a truck to go around to flood skating rinks, things like that. We didn’t have near the nice lawnmowers. Yeah, we just did a lot more physical work back in those days in the parks. Sure, we had less parks, absolutely, and there were only three parks keepers at that time. Myself and two other people, then we had two people in management, so five total.”

“Then in ‘92, there was an opening in the water department, so, I signed up for that and was lucky enough to get hired on over there. With anything, progress has really come a long way since then. We used to walk, in 20 below in the winter, house to house reading water meters, reading the register in the house and manually writing in a book and coming back here and then rewriting it onto a bill. Now we just sit by our desk and hit a few buttons, and we can read the meter. Right from our office desk.”

Peine has seen technology improve lives from a different perspective, as the service provider and technician instead of the end user.

“Technology and equipment by far are what I’ve seen the biggest changes to in my career here. We’re fortunate enough for the city that we are able to keep up with it. We have always had very good people and very good city councils to work with that understood the need for our budgets. They helped us out with most of the items to make the city successful,” Peine added.

In 35 years, Peine has had his hands in a lot of the infrastructure of Hastings, so what does he think his biggest impact was?

“I don’t know if there’s just one, it is a handful” he laughed. “About 2013, I believe it was, we were two separate departments over here at public works. We were the water department and the street department. I was very instrumental in helping bring the two departments together to form public works. So now, instead of having four or five operators in each department, we combine departments. We all became public works operators. That way, our cross training just really came into play, we’re able to plow snow one day, and go on and work on a pump the next day, and that same person can repair meters and go down to the hydro plant and troubleshoot issues, which is a lot more cross training. It takes a little more development, but I think that was a big savings for the city just getting our operators well versed in all aspects of the jobs rather than just streets or utilities. There have been a few smaller ones like upgrading all of our controls for our pumps and our wells and keeping them current and our hydroelectric plant has been a big part of my career here. Keeping that operating and functional without letting that fall into dire straits.”

The article started with some fun facts about the year Peine started with the city, but in a bit more serious inquiry, how many leadership changes has Peine witnessed in his 35 years?

“I thought about the other day, I’ve been through four mayors, four city administrators, and three public works directors,” explained Peine. “I enjoyed working with all of them. They all had their own flair, I learned a lot, and yeah, I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I’m just a good old farm boy who worked his way up from the bottom, you know, one of those stories.”

Peine has been a superintendent at public works since 2012 and it was simply time to retire.

“You’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week along with your on-call person. But this, I’m going to be looking forward to being able to sleep nights, enjoy my weekends off without the thought always in the back of my mind. Because let’s be real, nothing breaks during the day, right? It never snows during the day, it’s always at night, things like that. I’ve always enjoyed being around all the equipment, on the street side of things, I’m seeing all the advancements and being able to purchase some of that, and just really proud of myself for keeping it all in good shape here. I just feel our equipment here, it’s aged, but it’s in very good shape, we really pushed the maintenance here. So, I’m proud of that fact, to be honest with you,” added Peine.

Retirement is always bittersweet. You build core memories at work, coworkers become friends, the office is like a second home, so what will Peine miss the most?

“The people, my coworkers here are great,” reminisced Peine. “City Hall, the people are great. I enjoyed working with a lot of my salesmen and my repairmen. Just being around people, being in the know of what’s happening in the city, you are kind of always one of the first people to know what’s going on. I’m going to miss that. Yeah, things like that. I won’t miss the late-night phone calls though.”

Peine plans to take it easy for a little while before he finds a part time, flexible job, something that can help keep him active, he just does not know what or when yet.

Given the chance to end the conversation his way, Peine was thankful.

“It’s been my pleasure working here,” explained Peine. “I mean, they kept me employed for 35 years plus, and I’ve never been laid off in my life, I’m very proud of that. It’s actually it’s been an honor. It’s nice knowing that I was part of keeping the city in the best shape we can with the budget dollars we have to work with, which is sometimes pretty hard and a lot of tough decisions had to be made. What to cut, what to do and what not to do, and I feel for the most part I did a good job with that. Sure, there was a lot of times we wanted better streets or quicker responses, but that comes down to dollars, right? I had to be pretty frugal, especially keeping the equipment in good shape and running. We used to replace pickups every six to eight years, now we’re going 20 plus years replacing pickups. Dump trucks would last 15 years, now we’re going 25 years on dump trucks. With the cost of everything, I feel a big part of this job just being responsible with taxpayer dollars. I pride myself in that and loved it. I’m sure my successor will do the same. I just thank the citizens for putting up with me so long. We have had some trying times and some darn good times.”

Peine was recognized at the Jan. 17 Hastings City Council meeting with a proclamation.

Whereas Mark Peine Public Works Superintendent is retiring January 31, 2023.

And whereas Mark Peine has served the City of Hastings for over 35 years And whereas Mark Peine service to the community has always gone above and beyond to make normal happen.

And whereas Marks institutional knowledge and expertise in water distribution, specifically the water treatment plants, lighting systems and snowplow operations has made him the go to person in all areas of Public Works.

And whereas Mark Peine’s depth of knowledge of the hydroelectric plants is beyond compare and substantiated by the numerous educational tours completed in his career.

And whereas Mark’s care factor and passion to this community set the standard and expectation of operations.

And whereas Mark has built relationships with MNDoT, Dakota County, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of resources, and a number of key vendors, fellow municipalities and others that will last and benefit the city of Hastings into the future.

And whereas Mark’s calm and can-do demeanor was appreciated and brought success in times of emergency and critical consequence.

And whereas marks leadership, by example has been contagious throughout the department over the years to inspire others to do the right thing and public works in the Public Works professionals.

Therefore, be it resolved. The Hastings City Council hereby recognizes Mark Peine for his dedication and commitment to the city of Hastings.

Thank you for your service to the citizens of Hastings for 35 years Mark, and enjoy your well-deserved retirement!