Bill Lindahl, 65, and Jerry Kotanko, 67, are both retired from the Township of Langley parks department. Lindahl retired in 2008 after 35 years of service. After 41 years with the Township, Kotanko retired 10 years later, on April 30, making him the longest-serving employee in the municipality’s history. Troy Landreville Langley Times

Longtime Township employee retires after four decades of service

Parks worker Jerry Kotanko’s last day was April 30

Under a balmy midday sun, Jerry Kotanko sat on a concrete picnic bench at Noel Booth Park, reflecting on four-plus decades of service with the Langley Township parks department.

At age 67, Kotanko hung up his work gloves on April 30 after nearly 41 years on the job, making him the municipality’s longest-serving employee, according to the Township’s record books.

That’s quite a feat considering the Township was incorporated in 1873.

Joining Kotanko for an interview with the Times was Bill Lindahl, 65, who’s no slouch himself when it comes to longevity with Langley Township parks.

Lindahl retired in 2008 after 35 years, a good chunk of those working side-by-side with Kotanko.

It’s no coincidence Kotanko chose Noel Booth Park as the place to look back on his work life. He sat near a canopy of trees that he planted many years ago.

“This was the first park when I started working, that I was involved with from almost scratch,” Kotanko said. “It was just a gravel pit, then. All of the trees, I planted with a blue tractor, and I dug the holes with it. They (started out) as four foot (high) or so and some were a bit more.”

The Township the two friends and former co-workers knew when they started with the parks department in the 1970s looked markedly different than it does today.

When Kotanko began his time with the municipality after applying “in the old hall” in 1977, it included 15 parks. The municipality has grown to more than 50 parks since then.

Following the lead of his dad, who also worked for the municipality, Lindahl started with the Township in 1973, four years before Kotanko came on board.

“It’s the maintenance and operation of the parks system so it was everything from mowing the grass to planting, to cleanup…,” Lindahl said.

Continuing the thought, Kotanko added “building fences, digging trenches… we didn’t have backhoes back then in the parks, so we dug all the trenches by hand.”

Lindahl’s longevity Township can be for the most part attributed to a love of the outdoors. “It was just a pleasant atmosphere to work. I mean who doesn’t want to be out in the parks? You knew the work was going to be there.”

“We had a good crew, we all got along good, worked good together and had fun together, we even played ball together at night time in the parks,” Kotanko added.

The one constant with the job was change, which Lindahl welcomed because it added flavour to his work life.

“The interesting thing about working in parks, I found, was because technology was changing so much, it was like almost every 10 years there was a new job. The artificial turf fields came along, the whole new methods of irrigation… when we first started here, we never dreamt of irrigating fields, (the existence of) artificial turf fields, lighted fields, (and) the buildings and facilities that have gone in,” he said.

Lindahl said his job was always changing. He and Lindahl helped develop Noel Booth Park, Brown Park, and Creekside Park (to name a few), by doing the grading, seeding, putting in drainage systems, and planting trees.

“We ended up learning how to do irrigation, how to repair it and even install it,” Kotanko said. “It was nice to be able to go and do a job and look back and see what was done. It kind of made you proud.”

“Being involved with the kids in the sports, too,” Lindahl offered. “With both of us, we’d have a diamond going through, we’d be in there playing and we’d hear the feedback directly from the user groups, and as we got older our kids were in sports, so you’d get a sense of what you’re constructing for parks and what it does for the community and for bringing everybody together.”

“Not only did you work in the community, you played in the community,” Kotanko continued. “Most of the people who worked in the Township way back then lived in the Township. We were part of the community and you spent your nights in the parks.”

When he retired a decade ago, Lindahl spent the first few months checking off all the items on his to-do list.

“It was more after a period of a couple months that you get those things knocked off the list that you gradually have to find other things to do to fill your time and keep your interests up,” Lindahl said.

Lindahl is part of the Arboretum and Botanical Society of Langley and is helping to build the Rotary Interpretive Centre at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.

Meanwhile, Kotanko opens a new chapter of his life.“I’ve got lots to do,” he assured.

“I’m kind of used to working with people and being involved with people and that’s the part I’m going to miss. I’ve got a half acre of land out in Milner and big shop so I’ve got lots of work and I’ve got the grandkids involved with sports.”

 

Just Posted

Serious crash closes Highway 1 at 232 Street

One vehicle burst into flames, victim airlifted to hospital following Thursday evening collision

Township continues flood evacuation alert in Northwest Langley

Township of Langley takes cautious approach as Abbotsford rescinds Glen Valley alert

Man withdraws $6,000 using fraudulent ID

The Langley RCMP have released surveillance photos of various crimes

Thieves steal $2,200 in supplies from Langley Community Farmers’ Market

Two people took off on bicycles with tents, flags and table coverings

Three arrested in Aldergrove stabbing

Downtown areas cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape, under police watch

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

Drivers could pay $8 per day to help cut gridlock under new plan

Mobility pricing report outlines two existing models to cut Metro Vancouver congestion by 20-25%

B.C. pipeline goes ahead despite scrapped Pacific Northwest LNG

NEB approves amendment for $1.4-billion natural gas North Montney Mainline Project

Update: Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps from 60 to 800 hectares

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Fuel truck crash closes B.C. highway, sends two to hospital

The Trans-Canada Highway on Vancouver Island is expected to be closed until Thursday evening

Most Read