Wednesday, December 18, 2013

City employees bid Jon Ingalls a grand farewell

A self-described workaholic, Jon Ingalls remembers his first “real” job. It was back in 1972 working as a bus boy at the Iron Horse restaurant in downtown Coeur d’Alene. He has fond reflections of that job, but says his performance was a “mixed bag.”

His first boss, Iron Horse owner Tom Robb, remembers things differently. “He was obviously the same hard worker then as he is now,” Robb said. “He was a delightful kid; a hard worker, and he caught on quick.”

Robb adds, “Let’s put it this way, Jon’s a hard guy to forget.”

As Ingalls prepares to step down from his position as deputy city administrator at Coeur d’Alene City Hall—a role he’s filled aptly for 8 years—many of his co-workers remember similar stories about Jon: A hard worker, dedicated public servant and team player who was usually on the job early and among the last to leave.

“Without a doubt, Jon never wanted to leave anything unfinished,” said Coeur d’Alene street superintendent Tim Martin, who took over the position as street chief when Jon was promoted to deputy administrator in 2006 after six years of heading the street department.

“Jon took on each challenge with equal exuberance and was a tremendous mentor.”
Tim Martin, Cd’A street superintendent

During a recent surprise gathering at City Hall, Ingalls was praised by his co-workers, about 100 of whom gathered to acknowledge his service to the city and share his diverse and often spirited public role—both on and off duty—through a photo slide presentation that highlighted his 14 years with the city.

Ingalls humbly accepted the fanfare, although he’s not a man who enjoys the attention. He’d rather work as part of a team to provide the best possible services to the city, he said. “I will miss the people; miss my daily interactions at City Hall and the relationships that have been built.”

As deputy city administrator, Ingalls described his job as “the Number 2 guy … the guy who helped move the cogs and gears of City Hall.”

Though not always the most rewarding position, Ingalls said he took great satisfaction in working with a talented group of long-time department heads while helping to groom and mentor incoming city officials. “It’s been tremendously gratifying to work with a group of people like I have over the years,” he said.

As to the previously mentioned workhorse ethic. Ingalls doesn’t deny it. “I’m a bit of a workaholic; I’ve had two sick days in 35 years and that’s not an exaggeration. And zero (sick days) with the city,” he said.

The future, he says, is up in the air. One thing is for sure: He would like to re-arrange his life’s priorities. “For me it’s always been work, number 1. Family number 2. And Jon third.”

Perhaps it’s the perfect time for a change, said the Coeur d’Alene native.

“I’m 56; I still have a little gas in the tank. Maybe I won’t work quite as hard. But I hope to increase my community commitment … maybe some community service. Perhaps, maybe, a part-time job may be in his future.

“But I don’t want it to take over my life, either. Something a little less stressful, and something that’s meaningful,” he said.