GRAND LAKE — For the last 40 years, Grand Lake resident Bernie McGinn has served the citizens of his smaller mountain community, but that is coming to an end this week as McGinn prepares to officially retire as the town’s public works director.
“I am getting a little anxious about it, but it is going to be okay,” McGinn said, with more than a hint of melancholy in his voice. “Some days it is really exciting, other days I wonder if I know what I am doing. I know it is going to be a definite change.”
McGinn’s last day as an official employee of the town of Grand Lake will be Wednesday.
Originally from Iowa McGinn, now 69, served in the U.S. Navy for four years, including a year in Vietnam in 1972. After being discharged from military service, McGinn spent some time bouncing between Texas and Colorado before making Grand Lake his permanent home.
His tenure with the municipal government began in 1979 when he took a job as a part-time maintenance worker at the age of 29. He spent the 1980s working as a heavy equipment operator for Grand Lake and in 1997 was promoted to the position of public works director.
“I have served my whole life, in one capacity or another,” McGinn said. “It has been a really outstanding lifestyle. I have enjoyed it. You get to know the people, you get to know their roads, their potholes. Hopefully what you do is good enough that people recognize that and say thank you.”
A community retirement party for McGinn will be held at 5 p.m. Friday at the Grand Lake Community House. The public is invited to attend.
“Everyone is welcome,” McGinn said.
On Monday night, the Grand Lake Trustees approved the payment of a $6,000 stipend to McGinn in recognition of his years of dedicated service. The motion by the town board to approve the stipend also included a provision covering all applicable taxes McGinn would otherwise have to pay for the bonus.
All employees of Grand Lake inherently receive a $5 per month longevity bonus for each month they work for the town. McGinn’s $6,000 stipend was an additional bonus above and beyond the traditional longevity bonus the town’s employees receive. The $6,000 stipend was based on an additional longevity bonus of $150 per year, for 40 years. Grand Lake Mayor Jim Peterson said he believes McGinn provided the town with more than $150 worth of off-the-clock labor each month during his tenure.
“I think we got it back in spades,” Peterson said. “He never said, ‘No.’”
Town Manager Jim White echoed his sentiments.
“When I got here everybody said, ‘When there is a problem in town, people call Bernie,’” said White, Grand Lake’s senior municipal employee.
McGinn plans to remain in Grand Lake in retirement and will be continuing his lifelong commitment to service by volunteering at Saint Anne Catholic Church in Grand Lake.
“I am going to go to work but for very few hours each week,” McGinn said. “I am going to work for Father Michael, our priest; just trying to keep my feet in a little bit of work and make the transition easier on myself.”
McGinn said he plans to enjoy his recreational hobbies, including golfing and cross-country skiing, in retirement.
“People have offered me kayaks,” he said. “I have not done that before. I’m thinking that might be nice.”