During his nearly 25 years with the city of Soldotna, Steve Bonebrake wore a number of hats.
Airport manager, city engineer, public works director, just to name a few.
But Bonebrake knows more than just every pothole in the street or pipe in the sewer system, he knows first-hand what it took to develop Soldotna into the city it is today.
That's a good amount of memories to retire on. And Bonebrake's last day at work for the city was Friday.
Originally from Oregon, Bonebrake began his career in the state of his dreams working at the Soldotna Airport before getting a project-engineering job with the city.
"The rest is 25 years worth of history. I know that's not the longest in the world but it's a long time," he said in a modest understatement.
Looking back over his years, and in his many different capacities, Bonebrake reminisced about being a part of the town's growth.
"When I got here there were very few paved streets a lot less water and sewer," Bonebrake said. "It's not very often you get to come in and help develop a city from the point we were at 25 years ago to the point we are at now."
Bonebrake said the population of Soldotna has grown from when he first moved here by at least 1,500 people.
Soldotna is at the point now where most essential infrastructure is complete so the city can focus on quality of life issues like parks and walking paths, he said.
While working to develop the city, Bonebrake said he worked with many of the town's original homesteaders. And now he enjoys working with the second generation of homestead families.
"Lots and lots of times I'm working with great people, not just employees, but the public," he said.
One of his favorite stories about working with "great people" happened when he was inspecting construction jobs as a project engineer for Pat Doyle of Doyle Construction.
"We hade this little camaraderie going on," he said. "His crew thought it would be kind of neat to steal my shovel."
So in order to claim his shovel, Bonebrake said he painted his the same chalk blue color that the city of Soldotna uses.
But that did not outsmart his fellow jokesters.
"They stole the paint from me and painted all the shovels the same way I painted mine," he said with a chuckle. "It's little things you do to make the project go better to the benefit of the people involved, benefit to the people of Soldotna, benefit to the contractor, and benefit to the city."
Bonebrake's light-hearted and fun manner seems to be appreciated by many of his co-workers.
"He's a very enjoyable person," said Barbara Phegley, his administrative assistant. "He's a nice guy, a very nice guy. Everybody here is going to miss him."
And although Bonebrake said he will miss socializing with his co-workers, as well as getting up and going to work, he has at least a few plans for his Alaska retirement.
"Honey do's and fishing," he said, with a laugh.
"It's just time for me to move on," he said. "After this long your body says it's time for a change."
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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