By Stephen Floyd
Mt. Angel has lost an institution after Public Works Superintendent Dan Bernt retired following 36 years with the city.
Bernt was hired as a utility/maintenance worker in 1985 and became superintendent in 1996. After years of flirting with retirement, he decided to step down as of Dec. 31.
During a ceremony Dec. 17 at the Mt. Angel Fire Department, friends and colleagues recognized Bernt’s years of leadership and hard work in the sometimes-literal trenches.
“We will lose a legend in Mt. Angel,” said Interim City Manager/Police Chief Mark Daniel. “He’s going to be leaving a large hole here that will be hard to fill.”
Daniel said Bernt helped make Mt. Angel a place where people enjoyed living, working and visiting. He added Bernt supported him personally when Daniel became police chief in 2017, offering perspective and guidance.
“The one thing I could always count on was Dan,” he said.
Daniel also took time to acknowledge Bernt’s wife, Josefa Bernt, for the support she gave her husband.
“We can’t come to work and do the most important work for the communities we serve unless our homes are taken care of,” said Daniel.
Dan Bernt was presented with multiple recognitions, including a plaque from the city for his dedication, workmanship and leadership, and a pair of chief challenge coins from the Police Department for his partnership, leadership and service to citizens. Dan Bernt’s employees also chipped in for a commemorative wristwatch, which they presented alongside Mayor Don Fleck.
In a unique gesture, Mt. Angel Public Library Director Jackie Mills presented a copy of Big Book of Big Trucks, by Megan Cullis, which library staff purchased for check-out in his name.
When given a chance to speak, Dan Bernt spent little time on himself and instead thanked numerous colleagues by name, highlighting their accomplishments in Mt. Angel and beyond. He also admitted he won’t miss all of his career, including the annual budgeting process and waiting anxiously during bad weather for someone to call in a utility emergency.
“Every day’s not always great, but it’s always interesting,” he said.
Dan Bernt said he plans to stay in Mt. Angel and spend time with children and grandchildren, but also hopes to return to Spain, where he has spent multiple years in the past and where he met Josefa Bernt.