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home : current news : current news May 26, 2016

8/13/2013 12:40:00 PM
Kiefer loves his job with public works
Conrad Kiefer loves the Sisters Country forests —and his job with the public works department. photo by Jim Cornelius
+ click to enlarge
Conrad Kiefer loves the Sisters Country forests —and his job with the public works department. photo by Jim Cornelius

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

No two days are the same for Conrad Kiefer, a Utility Tech 1 with the City of Sisters Public Works Department.

"One day I could be running a street sweeper, (another) day I could be plowing snow, cutting trees, raking a park..." said Kiefer. "I love my job."

A 2009 Sisters High School graduate, Kiefer played nose guard on the Outlaws state championship team. He wanted to stay in Sisters and was happy to find a niche with the city.

"I was working for the Forest Service before here," he said. "There was a lot of travel with that job. I was looking for something more local."

He started out driving a garbage truck and worked his way into a steady gig with the city by being dedicated and versatile. All public works personnel have to cover a range of jobs.

"All of us are completely cross-trained," Kiefer said.

The job can be complex, but Kiefer is frank about the biggest challenge of the work: Dealing with the public. He and other crew members sometimes take an earful from people who have their own ideas about how their work ought to be done.

Kiefer lets it roll off.

"I'm not here to be validated by other people," he said. "I'm here for what I get done." Besides, he notes, "it's not every day. Most people really appreciate us."

City Manager Andrew Gorayeb said, "In any population, there's going to be a certain number of cynics. If you look at what these guys are doing - and I'm trying to better communicate and demonstrate what the public works department does - it's harder to be cynical."

The department realizes that the opinion of the citizens matters.

"It's our responsibility to serve the taxpayers and everybody gets that," Gorayeb said.

Right now, Kiefer's focus is on trees.

The city is working on dealing with hazard trees and potential hazard trees (see related story, page 11). Kiefer is limbing trees for clearance of sidewalks and power lines and for sign visibility. Where necessary, trees will come down.

Kiefer is skilled at falling trees and can handle most of the work himself, but he won't hesitate to call in a tree service if necessary.

"If it's over my head, I will fully acknowledge it and I'll tell my boss and they'll handle it - they'll hire outside."

Kiefer loves the forests of Sisters - both the urban forest and the forests he roams with friends and family.

"I love to hunt and fish," he said. "I save most of my vacation to go elk hunting. On weekends we try to go camping in the local area, hiking."

His love for the woods is graphically expressed in a tattoo of a treeline that wraps his right forearm.

Kiefer endured a serious health scare two years ago, when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Successful surgery put him back on his feet and back in the woods and back with his family, wife Cary and children Sawyer and Madison.

He approaches each day fearlessly, determined to live to the fullest. Part of that ethic is working hard for the citizens of Sisters.

He says he finds his greatest satisfaction in "just getting a project completed and knowing it's going to make a difference."

He's always ready to take on such projects.

"If you see something in our city that needs done, let us know," he said. "We'll do it. We'll do our best."

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