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Man about town

Jerome Kapaun is the lone City maintenance person at Mapleton.

Its easy to see that hes enjoying every minute of it by the perpetual smile that lights up his face.

Its the perfect retirement position. It keeps me busy, the time goes by and everybody lets me do my own thing, he said with a huge grin.

Jeromes partial to small town life, having been raised in the rural farming community of Alice, 40 miles southwest of West Fargo. His dad worked for the Armour plant in West Fargo, so the family lived there a short while before moving back to Alice when Jerome was only six. He earned his GED while attending Fingal High School, before enlisting in the U.S. Army serving three years, most of the time stationed in Germany.

He married Joyce Kempel in 1965, and they lived in Fargo a short while before moving to Mapleton in 1970. Jerome went on to put in 34 years with Bridgeman Land o Lakes, before retiring in 2000. Joyce is a longtime employee of Office Interiors in West Fargo, now Business Essentials.

Jerome remembered those early days and his friend telling him if you ever find a quiet little place to move our trailer houses, let me know. Jerome discovered Mapleton, they moved their trailer, and he and Joyce eventually purchased their home 25 years ago.

Through the years, Mapleton has become very important to us, Jerome said. The community proved to be the perfect place to raise their two sons, now grown. Jim and his wife, Tammy, and their two sons, Nathan and Morgan, live in Fargo; while Jerry and his wife Nancy, live in Moorhead and Jerrys daughter, Jordan, lives in Casselton.

As the only city maintenance official in Mapleton, Jerome is responsible for just about everything and anything. I basically do it all. Doug Saari is the water superintendent and does the testing, otherwise its all mine. Doug is great to work with, he knows the water system well and Cindy (Stoick) is doing an excellent job as our new city auditor.

In the summer, Jerome will typically put in a 40-plus hour week and in the winter at least 40 hours. On any given day, he can be seen reading or installing water meters, doing maintenance on city property, mowing the parks and cemetery, taking care of the dikes, you name it, the list goes on. He also cleans the community center, and in the wintertime does the snow removal.

The fact that the town is growing is adding to his duties, but he doesnt mind. When I first started there was no industrial park, no Ashmore Glen, and no Eid-Co developments, Jerome said. The town has doubled in size since I started. I just do whatever I can in the time I have, and some of the work just gets pushed farther down the road. Next year we are looking to hire a part-time summer person and that should help a lot.

This summer it has been a little overwhelming because of all the rain. The grass is growing so fast. I was falling behind, but I finally caught up this week.

Even with all the rain, Jerome said flooding was not a problem. I helped with pumping a few days at the golf course, but our city dike system is in good shape so that helps a lot.

In time away from city duties Jerome carries his civic involvement one step farther, as a volunteer for the Mapleton Fire Department; and he and Joyce are active members of the Gift of God Lutheran Church.

He is also a golfer and longtime member of the Maple River Course, where he enjoys hitting a few balls with his sons, and grandsons, ages 6 and 9. They keep telling me they are going to beat me pretty quick, so I tell them that Im ready, Jerome laughed.

In retrospect, Jerome said the city position has really been a super job for me. I live right across the street so I dont have to drive to town, and it is always nice and quiet during the day. Its also nice to get compliments from residents who say the town looks so much better. It makes it all worth it, so I plan on doing this for as long as Im able.