No one knows the streets of Sioux Center like Harlan Rus. Sioux Center’s Street Department head is retiring after more than 35 years of ensuring clear and safe travel throughout the community.
Harlan Rus has been behind the controls of the City’s street sweeper, snow plows, motor graders, and other equipment for decades, responsible for upkeep and maintenance of the public streets and storm water system, along with the city’s yard waste compost dump, to which he made significant improvements. Rus began with the City in October 1988 and has seen a lot of changes, including the number of miles of city streets nearly doubling – from around 35 miles to the current 65 miles.
“The biggest change I’ve seen is in the equipment,” Rus said. “Trucks are more powerful and heavier. There are more attachments and automated switching to change them. It used to take 2-3 guys and a couple hours to switch the payloader from the dirt bucket to the snow bucket. Now you flip a switch.”
Today’s street sweeper uses vacuum technology, but until 1991 the City used a mechanical sweeper with brooms that would kick the debris back, where it was lifted into a hopper.
“When there were leaves in the fall, that would fill up so fast,” Rus said. “At the peak of fall leaves, I’d have to empty it every 15-20 minutes. Now, in the same amount of time, I can go three times as far.”
One thing Rus won’t miss is getting up in the very early hours in the morning, including the middle-of-the-night decisions on plowing. At the City, he is known for brewing legendary double-strength coffee.
“I enjoy plowing snow – just not in the middle of the night,” he laughed. “If we could shut down all the streets and plow in the middle of the day, that would be nice!”
In his retirement, Rus is looking forward to traveling with his wife Carla, and enjoying time with his children and 4 grandchildren, including watching their ball games.
Utilities Manager Murray Hulstein thanked Rus for his character and dedication to work with the city.
“Harlan has always had an attitude of caring about Sioux Center and the work he does. That’s one of the most valuable attributes you can have as a public servant,” Hulstein said. “Sioux Center is known for its cleanliness, and Harlan has been part of that, keeping the streets clean and in good shape.”