Back in 1982, E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial was beloved for its brilliant special effects, Cats opened for the first time on Broadway and Joe Ketchum came to West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation as its Superintendent, a graduate fresh out of Central Michigan University.
Indeed, a lot has changed. Ketchum, honored for 20 years service by the Parks and Recreation Commission last week, said that his appreciation of Township residents has grown with the scope his work and the support of the public.
"We started off as a maintenence staff in basically a garage at Bloomer Park," Ketchum said before the commission meeting on Thursday night. "Now, I look at Marshbank and remember how far we've come. With the economy the way it's been lately, to see people continue to support our work as it's grown with millage votes means a lot."
Parks and Recreation Director Dan Navarre said that Ketchum's fingerprints can be seen all over the parks system in more ways than one. In addition to being in charge of maintaining parks and training field staff, Ketchum works with administrators and commissioners on projects including the annual budget.
"Our parks look good because he's taken it personal, to make sure our parks are the best they can be and have a high standard," said Navarre, adding that Ketchum's experience with the position is greater than his own by some six years.
Despite the fact that his seniority runs greater than most, Ketchum expressed a touch of humility while speaking with the commission. He admitted that he came into the job, not expecting to work more than a two-year stint.
It should not be a surprise to see Ketchum working for years to come. "I used to think, coming out of college, that every parks system was the same. This has been a unique, terrific job, and I just appreciate the chance to do it."
According to the township's website, the Commission operates and maintains 516 acres of parkland in addition to using a portion of the 99-acre civic center and the recreation community center at the civic center campus. For more information, visit westbloomfieldparks.org.