After 22 years leading village’s DPW, he’s ready for some personal time
Nobody is more surprised that Al Neumann is wrapping up a 22-year career with the Village of Fredonia than Neumann himself.
His last day as the village’s director of public works is Friday, Oct. 21.AFTER 22 YEARS on the job, Al Neumann will log his last day as the Village of Fredonia’s director of public works on Friday. Photo by Mark Jaeger
“I have had many other jobs during my lifetime, but I always fell victim to the seven-year itch and usually switched jobs every four to seven years,” Neumann said.
Before coming to Fredonia, he ran the Random Lake wastewater treatment plant for nearly six years.
Among his many other jobs, Neumann, 64, was also a mechanic and field foreman for Krier Preserving Co. in Random Lake for five years, overhauling equipment during the winter and running a harvest crew in the summer pea and sweet corn seasons.
But on Oct. 9, 1989, Neumann was ready to set down some professional roots — even if he didn’t know it at the time.
“I accepted the Fredonia position, excited for the challenge but not knowing that my future in the village would span 22 years and be filled with a ton of memorable events,” he said.
“I remember my early years in Fredonia, which then was a village of 1,500 people with several rural-profile roads, a small industrial park and some rugged-looking open spaces.”
Since that time, Neumann said the community has made some impressive advances. He said the village’s network of roads has been upgraded and the park system has become an asset in which most residents take great pride.
“I think back fondly on the large projects, such as the industrial park expansion, improvements to Martin Drive, South Milwaukee Street and Meadowlark Road, and the development of the bike path,” Neumann said.
“While these projects always had their proportionate share of challenges, the sense of accomplishment at project end was most gratifying. I think I liked the projects that required a lot of personal contacts and coordination the best.”
Part of the job as director of public works has been to have a vision for the community, and Neumann said most residents welcomed the improvements.
Still, what is left undone weighs heavily on his mind.
“There is a part of me that wants to be here yet for the Fredonia Avenue project, because I really like to see things get built,” Neumann said. “But I will let others handle that.”
Other aspects of the job will be readily left behind.
“What I won’t miss are the water main breaks in zero-temperature weather and the sleepless hours anticipating and fighting major snow events,” Neumann said.
He said his career has spanned the terms of five village presidents and countless village trustees.
“Everyone had their unique characteristics and I’m sure each one had some impact on making me the person I am today,” Neumann said.
He said retirement will give him more time to devote to his two primary hobbies — motorcycling and golf— along with catching up on some missed family time.
“I have already been sent soccer schedules, gymnastic meet schedules and horseback riding competition calendars by my out-of-state grandchildren. I hope to see them often,” Neumann said.
“My ‘honey do’ list might never entirely disappear, but that’s just fine with me, too.”