Jack of all trades will now focus on doing what he ‘wants’ to do
By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
Since 1971, Bill Doroff has been literally a driving force in the street department for the city of Little Falls. First as an employee driving trucks, and for the past 27 years as the Street Department Supervisor.
Doroff had just turned 21 and had earned his “chauffeur’s license,” now known as a commercial driver’s license, when he was hired.
One of his earliest memories is of the flood in 1972 or 1973 in northeast Little Falls. He started work at 7 a.m. that Saturday morning to load sand.
“I still remember looking over the hill by Crestliner and seeing water,” he said. “I was there until Sunday at 10 a.m. loading trucks.”
Although he’ll miss the “fantastic people” he works with, both on the crew and residents in the city, Doroff said after 43 years, it’s just time to retire.
But, he admits, while it is another chapter in his life — it’s an unknown chapter. He’s always been the kind to get to work, do his job and earn a living. Doroff is pretty sure he’ll adapt.
One of the things he won’t miss, he said, is being on call 24 hours a day; getting up at 5 a.m. to get to work by 6:30 a.m. or getting up at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. during the winter months to check whether it’s snowing and whether to send out the snow plows.
“You could almost never believe the weather report,” he said. “It was always hardest around Christmas time calling employees in to plow.”
Making the decision to plow snow or not to plow snow, was one he described as, “Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” Somebody’s not going to be happy.
Over the years, many things have changed. For one, when Doroff started, 20 people were employed in the street department; today, there are 10.
So, too, much of the work was done without the aid of equipment.
“We used to dig in fire hydrants by hand,” said Doroff.
He said he’s had his hands in nearly every project done in the city in one way or another for nearly a half century.
The street crew built many of the parks, the new construction at the zoo, ball fields, hockey rinks and more in the city.
They also clear land, build fences, help with the water plant, clean lagoons and whatever else needs doing for a variety of projects, including the demolition of homes, such as when the Maple Island and James Green parks were built.
These types of jobs were fit in between work required on city streets. The last measurements in the city from 2007 show there are 101 miles of street; 65 miles of sanitary sewer and 72 miles of water main — all taken care of by the city’s street department and enough to keep crews busy.
Not only do they dig in water and sewer lines, but repair and flush the lines, install hydrants, blade roads, clean and maintain city parks and ballfields, plow snow, haul snow, brush road sides, sweep streets and more.
Public Works Director Jerry Lochner said Doroff is “199 percent dedicated and loyal” and it is often because of his knowledge as a mechanic and advice that the city can save money.
The crews keep the equipment running in top shape, extending the life of each piece — because they use it and maintain it properly.
Lochner said when considering new equipment, Doroff and his crew are instrumental in selecting equipment that will best serve the city.
Doroff grew up in Little Falls with nine brothers and sisters, in an area near where Coborn’s sits today. He said that’s where he learned the value of hard work.
When looking over his career, Doroff said he’s proud of the parks the crews have built, mentioning a few like Maple Island Park; Le Bourget Park, which he said used to be a dump site for the city; the North Pine Grove Park and the trails.
He is most proud, however, of the building that now houses the city’s street equipment.
He was instrumental in its design and in getting it built, right down to building the cabinets in the offices. Before that building went up in 2006, Doroff said the street department was housed in little more than pole sheds.
Driving through the city, everywhere he looks, Doroff knows he had a hand in building it.
Doroff plans to finish his “honey-do” list, fish in the summer, hunt in the winter and get further into a hobby he loves — woodworking. In other words, he’ll be busy.
Family and friends are invited to celebrate with Doroff Saturday, Feb. 8, from 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. at the VFW in Little Falls.
Doroff and his wife, Kathy, have four grown children and eight grandchildren, ages 2 – 13 — plenty of fishing buddies.