The Border Watch : January 5th 2017
PAINTING A PICTURE OF LIFE ON THE LIMESTONE COAST FOUR DECADES OF SERVICE: Frank Habets has retired from Mount Gambier City Council after 40 years as an outdoor caretaker, maintaining the pristine condition of the Crater Lakes precinct. PAINTING G A PICTURE OF LIFE ON THE LIMESTONE COAST FOUR DECADES OF SERVICE: Frank Habets has retired from Moun G A PICTURE OF LIFE ON THE LIMESTONE COAST FOUR DECADES OF SERVICE: Frank Habets has retired from Mount Gambier City Council after 40 years as an outdoor caretaker, maintaining the pristine condition of the Crater Lakes precinct. Stories Stories of the people of our region PAINTING PAINTING AINTING A PICTURE OF LIFE ON THE A PICTURE OF LIFE ON THE LIMESTONE COAST FOUR DECADES OF SERVICE: Frank Habets has retired from Mount Gambier City Council after 40 years as an outdoor caretaker, maintaining the pristine condition of the Crater Lakes precinct. Stories of the people of our region Caretaker Caretaker closes gate for final time Long-serving council worker retires after four decades of service BRITTANY DENTON firstname.lastname@example.org AFTER four decades as caretaker of one of the city’s most beloved attractions, Frank Habets recently closed and locked the gate at the Valley Lake for the final time. Mr Habets maintained the pristine condition of the Crater Lakes area for 40 years and announced his retirement from Mount Gambier City Council last month. The city’s longest-serving outdoor caretaker, Mr Habets spoke candidly to The Border Watch about his passion for his work and plans for retirement. “My first day working for the council was here at the lakes area and I’ve been here ever since,” Mr Habets explained. “This was my only office - and it really is a beautiful office.” Mr Habets said he loved the freedom and diversity of his role as caretaker. “The job was so independent,” Mr Habets said. “There were ongoing maintenance tasks and if a job came in from management, for example storm damage, we would address that, but most days we would decide what we wanted to work on that day.” He recalled one of the major pro- jects he worked on during his time in the role was the upgrade of the playground. The decaying wooden structure was replaced with modern equipment in the mid-’90s. “We started in the September school holidays and people weren’t happy because there was machinery everywhere and they couldn’t access the playground,” Mr Habets explained. “We had a major working bee in October that year, it was a community project with around 120 or 130 people involved. “The new playground was built well before Christmas and it was a really big achievement for the community.” Mr Habets said he remembered the overwhelming response to the improved facilities. “Once it was finished, we had families here at eight in the morning until nine at night,” he recalled. “It was rated one of the best playgrounds in Australia in its time.” The Valley Lakes area is exceptionally clean and tidy today, though Mr Habets said vandalism was once prevalent at the site. “In the early days, probably the ‘80s and ‘90s, we did have a lot of vandalism,” Mr Habets said. “The roundabout was dug up countless times and graffiti was prevalent.” Mr Habets said the best way to deter vandals was to remove graffiti as soon as it was spotted. “There’s no glory in it that way,” he said. “Vandalism has phased out considerably over the years, which is good. “Nowadays you just have a one-off graffiti incident every now and then.” Appointed to the role at 26 years of age, Mr Habets said he was always satisfied with his work. 6 - The Border Watch, Thursday, January 5, 2017 “I had a few opportunities in my time to take a different role within council and I declined,” he said. “I’m glad I did actually because I was really satisfied with my work, I loved my job. “Even on my last day I woke up and I was still looking forward to getting out of bed and going to work.” Mr Habets revealed what he believes to be the key to job satisfaction. “As long as you achieve something every day and you can say I completed that task to the best of my ability,” he said. Council chief executive Mark McShane praised Mr Habets for his dedicated work over 40 years. “Frank is one of the longest term employees of council and he made it his mission in life to take ownership of the Valley Lake area,” Mr McShane said. “It is one of our major attractions both for people who live in Mount Gambier and visitors and anytime you go down to the Crater Lakes it always looks stunning. “Frank has taken a high level of pride in making sure all the facilities there are as good as they possibly can be.” Mr Habets plans on an active retirement and is still motivated to complete positive work. “I would like to do a bit of travel and a bit of social work to give back to the community,” he explained. “I want to road trip Australia with the caravan and I would love to go to New Zealand and Canada. “I’ll play some lawn bowls and do a few maintenance jobs at home - I’ll try to keep busy.” CAREER CLOSED: Frank Habets closed the gate at the Valley Lake for the final time last month, retiring after 40 years as the outdoor caretaker at one of the city’s most beloved attractions.
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