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Long-time Public Works employees say farewell

Post Date:03/15/2019 10:00 am

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2019 Hometown Messenger

When Public Works Superintendent Mike “Pinky” Hullander started working full time for the City of Shakopee in 1979, he was quite literally following the steps of Maintenance Operator Todd Brinkhaus.

“Back in those days snowplows didn’t have the large wings that they do now,” Hullander said. “My plowing route was the same as his, and I followed behind him cleaning up the streets.”

Todd BrinkhausIn their combined 83 years working full time for the city, Hullander and Brinkhaus have shared a lot of similarities. The pair both started as part-time employees, Brinkhaus in 1972 and Hullander in 1976, and they’ve both, as Brinkhaus puts it, “done just about everything here.” 

“It’s something different every day,” Brinkhaus said. “That’s what I like about this job.”

Brinkhaus started with the city in 1972 through a jobs program run by Scott County. He was promoted to full time three years later. At that time, there were about 5,000 residents in Shakopee.

“We used to have three dump trucks, a road grader, a loader, two pick-ups and two lawn mowers,” he recalls. “I can’t even count how many we have now.”

Hullander spent the first 18 years of his career in the parks division and on the streets. In 1997, he was promoted to Public Works superintendent, a job he’s held for the last 22 years. Hullander helps manage the operation of the Public Works Department, including purchasing new equipment. No matter the job title or responsibilities, 39 years in the department has led Hullander to one conclusion: It’s a privilege to work for the city.

“We take our job, and the money we use here seriously,” Hullander said. “This city has a lot of good people working here, and residents really get a bang for their buck.”

Mike HullanderJobs in public service, especially jobs in the public works field, are essential to a functioning city. However, they tend to go unrecognized. 

Looking back, Brinkhaus is proud of his role in the construction of Tahpah Park and Joe Schleper Stadium. “That was a great project to be part of,” he said. “I know it’s going to be there forever and I’m happy about that.”

Hullander looks back proudly to the city's response to a heavy windstorm in 1998. Residents in Shakopee lost thousands of trees. “We worked with contractors to pile up trees on Gorman, where city hall and the police station are today,” he recalls. “We had everything cleared up before other cities even had a plan. That just goes to show what type of team we have here.”

While both men have had differing careers, it seems fitting that Hullander announced his retirement just weeks after Brinkhaus. Like in his early days with the department, Hullander is following Brinkhaus down the road to retirement. 

"Mike and Todd had a hand in almost half a century of Shakopee," said Public Works Director Steve Lillehaug. "What a great accomplishment and service to the community."

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