As of Nov. 14, the city of Nevada has a new street superintendent, who will also serve as the assistant director of public works.
Jeremy Rydl, 47, brings 22 years of experience working for the Iowa Department of Transportation into his new position in Nevada.
“I’m up for the challenge and like that there’s room for growth,” Rydl said of his new job. “I think I can make more of a difference at Nevada than I could at the DOT.”
The position Rydl has been hired for has been talked about by city leaders for a couple years. Nevada City Administrator Matt Mardesen said the position is focused on the street department. “He’ll be the direct department head for that department,” Mardesen said. But idea behind the position is also about helping train someone who will be more well-rounded than just street work. “Jeremy will be the head of the streets department, while at the same time acquire knowledge in the public works areas of wastewater, water and parks.”
“We want him to know about water and wastewater, but he’s not going to be a wastewater operator,” Mardesen said. But learning about those areas, he noted, will help the city. “Sewer and water infrastructure a lot of times work with the streets department … so knowing these three components,” Mardesen said, will help Rydl be another in-house resource for the city, especially when longtime employee and public works director Mike Neal retires.
Rydl, a very easy-going guy to talk to, has a proven track record of learning and accepting new challenges in the workplace.
The native of Anita grew up on a farm and thought he’d likely have a farm and be a mechanic, based on his upbringing. He got a job after high school working at the local grain elevator. He followed that with a job working for Atlantic Bottling, pretty much assembly line work that he did for a year.
Then, with a brother going to school at Iowa State, Rydl came to stay with him in the central Iowa area and never wanted to leave. He took cooking jobs for Wallaby’s and Aunt Maude’s in Ames.
Cooking jobs? That’s right. He didn’t know much about cooking, but he said he learned from two of the best teachers a person could have. “Donny O’Brien and Pat Breen are two of the best bosses I ever had; they taught me cooking and life lessons… I was a small-town boy in Ames, and Pat grew up in Laguna Beach, Calif. … I credit him for teaching me a lot.”
After the cooking jobs, Rydl landed a job with the Heart of Iowa Co-op, learning to do everything a person could do there, including maintenance. And he became acquainted with people at the DOT, so after a few years with the Coop, he had the opportunity to go to the DOT and has been there until his recent career move to Nevada.
At the DOT, he had worked his way up to being an equipment operator senior, and through the years, he learned a lot. Now he brings that knowledge to Nevada’s Streets Department.
Mardesen said one of the things that impressed him about Rydl is his “institutional knowledge of the different materials and minor street repairs we can do internally. He’ll know if we can get by with a lower cost to fix and add life to our streets.”
Rydl knows a lot about road surfaces, like asphalt and what it takes to maintain it and get its full use. He also knows the challenges of keeping up roads in a place like Iowa — “a freeze-thaw” state.
“Coming from the DOT, I’ve got an extensive background on preserving the integrity of the streets for a longer life,” he said.
Rydl also, during his time with the DOT, saw how important it is to have in-house people who can do things. “You can save a considerable amount of money (utilizing your own staff). Obviously, you can’t do everything in-house … but why hire [outside of the city] if you can do it?”
Rydl is not unfamiliar with Nevada. His family, which includes wife Julie (who works in human resources for CDS Global in Boone) and their daughters, Jordan, 16, and Jaden, 12, are in Nevada every year during the Story County Fair. Even though they live on a Boone County farm, the girls attend school in Gilbert and are members of Story County’s 4-H program. On their farm, they have a small cow-calf herd and row crops. “The girls show cattle, horses and hogs at the fair,” Rydl said.
Rydl is also head coach of the Gilbert Schools trapshooting team, which was started six years ago.
Mardesen said Rydl’s work for the city is very important and this was a great time to bring him on. “In preparation for the new wastewater treatment facility (for Nevada) that is taking time away (from streets) for Mike Neal, we thought it was time to bring this position in and focus on the street side of things. It’s good timing and a good fit, and I’m excited about the overall knowledge that Jeremy brings to Nevada.”