Jim Harpest retires from post with city

With only a couple hours left on this city worker’s last day, he is checking his notes and going over files.

On Friday, Wapakoneta Engineering Department technician Jim Harpest ignored cutting a cake in his honor and instead reviewed 10 pages of notes he made to help others in the office after he leaves.

“He is a very dedicated employee and is always working hard to the last minute of the day,” Engineering Superintendent Mary Ruck said. “On his off days, he will even take time out of his day to drive by and spy on the next project or an on-going project.”

Harpest, who started with the Engineering Department in 2004, retired Friday after nine years working with the city department.

“I am going to really miss working with all the good people,” said Harpest, whose colleagues, technician Andy Beane, office clerk Alicia Webb, and Ruck brought in a white-and-red cake for Harpest to celebrate those years of service. “I enjoyed the challenge of the job and really working with all the departments.”

Harpest checked street and sidewalk construction projects, assisted with building code enforcement and reviewed easements for a myriad of city projects.

“I enjoyed reviewing the plans for building permits and inspections because that is what I did for most of my life — working in the construction industry,” Harpest said. “Of course, another big thing I enjoyed each year was working with the concrete projects and the street projects. I enjoyed being out and about and having my hands involved in stuff.”

In 1960, Harpest started his construction career with the Hoge Lumber Co., of New Knoxville, and then he worked for the Anna Lumber Co. and bought into that firm. He retired from a wholesale company in Sidney.

He said company executives from the wholesale company came to him about opening a branch in Sidney and “30 days later we had it up and going.”

He started with the city of Wapakoneta in 2004 when a large street project the city was working on with the city was going to start.

“In 2004, we did the Defiance Street project and Tom Steinke (former Engineering superintendent) knew that I had just moved to town and was familiar with my past experience and wanted to know if I would help them out with building permits for three or four months and that led up to eight or nine months each year,” Harpest said. “The following year, they had a levy on the ballot for street improvements and that failed so I spent the next year working for Recreation Director Jack Hayzlett at the parks and then I moved back to the Engineering Department.”

After nine years working with the city, Harpest did not want a big send-off.

“I didn’t think I justified a big party, I am not one of those people who put in 25 to 30 years working for the city,” Harpest said. “I appreciated their efforts and the people who came in and wish me well because they are a good bunch to work for and work with.”

Harpest’s efforts and work were not lost on the mayor.

“He was a very dedicated employee, he always looked out for all the parties involved and he always followed his instructions to the letter,” Mayor Rodney Metz said. “He did a tremendous amount of research for street construction projects and made sure the equipment and utilities were on the right side of the roadway. More recently, he was working on the electric lines out to the solar field. He was doing all the research on the right of ways and which path we could take from the solar field to the Defiance Street Substation.

“He was a great employee and he will be missed,” the mayor said.