John Fratzke retires: ‘It’s been a good run’By Cheryl Parker
The City of Jesup is losing over 30 year’s worth of experience this month with the retirement of Streets Superintendent John Fratzke.
Fratzke is a lifelong resident of Jesup, graduating from JHS with the class of 1973. He worked construction in his earlier days and helped out the city wherever they needed him in the winter, prior to joining the Jesup Streets Department full time in 1990.
The part of the job he won’t miss is repairing water mains. They often break in the winter, a natural result of ground shifting and temperature changes. These last few years he has taken the role of operating the digger. “The other guys,” he says, the crew on the ground, “do the tough part.” Some years are lucky, with no breaks. “Usually there are three, four, five breaks. One year there were seven.”
He enjoys working outdoors spring through fall, tending the parks, and doing numerous other jobs, like helping set up for Farmers Day. Fratzke speaks highly of his fellow city employees working together to help out where they are needed to make everybody’s job easier.
Wind causes the most work for the city, when there are tree branches and other debris that need to be removed from the streets. In the winter, wind makes a moderate snowfall worse. In the old days, he used to get the call at 2 or 3 or 4 a.m. to start removing snow from the streets so that Jesup residents could get to work and school on time. “It wasn’t always perfect,” he says, “but we did our best.” When he became the superintendent, he became the one that made the call!
Ice is another tricky component of streets maintenance. Over the years he has developed a knowledge of how to deal with different situations that can’t be found in a book.
He has seen an unbelievable change in equipment in his 30 years on the job. The new machines are much better and easier to run.
COVID hasn’t affected the Streets Department too much. He says they have been cautious and always try to use good judgment. He doesn’t allow sales people in the office the way he used to, for example.
Fratzke’s last day at work was Friday, October 9, although adding earned vacation time has pushed his official retirement date to November 2. He won’t miss the winters one bit, and plans to “smile from the window” as the crew cleans snow from his street.
He is looking forward to spending more time with his family, uninterrupted by work. He recalls fixing a water main one New Year’s Day, and several Christmas Eve church services he had to miss because he was plowing snow. Fratzke was a lifelong bachelor prior to marrying his wife, Judy, 12 years ago. That marriage also gave him two wonderful stepdaughters, Ally and Shelby, that he loves as his own.
“The city has been good to me. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work for the City of Jesup,” said Fratzke. “It’s been a good run.”
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