Coyle records 45 years of employment with the City of Philip
Wed, 09/22/2021 - 8:01am admin
It was September of 1976, that Rick Coyle took the job working for the city of Philip. The average gasoline prices were approximately 56 cents per gallon, a gallon of milk was $1.68, yearling steers weighing 800 lbs.were 35 cents per lb. and 440 lb. steer calves brought 41 cents per lb. Now, 45 years later, Coyle still lives and breaths Philip, SD, while working for the tax payers of Philip. Rick is a true Philipitte His parents were both born and raised in Haakon County, from the Milesville area and just south of Philip on the Coyle Ranch. “When Dad was young he lived up on what they call Milesville Flat.” said Coyle. "Grandpa kinda moved to where work was and then ended up on a place south of Philip. Mom (Sharon) grew up in the Milesville area as well.”
When Rick came back from college at the end of his second year, he decided that maybe he could get a job and work for a while. Coyle had worked for Lawrence Gittings for two summers while he attended college at SDSU, but the thought of a full time job intrigued him quite a bit. “I came back and saw that the Farmers Co-op Elevator and Fred Taylor had a job opening there. He hired me, and I worked there for a while,” said Coyle. Then Rick’s dad, Bob, said there was an opening for the city that was advertised in the Pioneer Review and maybe he should look into it. “I took Dad’s advice and applied for the city job, now 45 years later I am still at it,” said Coyle.
Rick started working with longtime city employee and Philip resident, Oscar Keller. “I worked with Oscar and learned a lot from that guy,” said Coyle. “Bud Stickler would help us on some bigger projects when I first started the job. I remember Stanley “Red” Couch was water supt. and Eddie Hanson later took over for Red.”
Coyle has been working with quite a number of city counsel members over the years. “The mayor was Mike West when I was hired on by the city,” said Coyle. When asked who the city council members were when he was hired, Coyle named most of them. The city council members were: Woody Woodall, Glenn Urban, Steve Reckling, Ed Ptak, Larry Pfeifer, and Bill O’Connor. The City Finance Officer was Janie Kennedy. “I have worked for four mayors, Mike West, Nancy Ekstrum, John Hart, and the present, Mike Vetter. I believe the first three all worked 12 years each,” said Coyle
When asked what one or two of the biggest projects he remembers helping with, Coyle talked about a few. “When the new curb and gutter project was started in the late 70’s, we had a lot going on then,” said Coyle. “That project, I believe, resulted in laying asphalt on 18 blocks of the streets in Philip.”
Early in his career, he was taught to grade gravel roads by Oscar Keller. Coyle remembers Oscar’s advice when grading. “When your done cutting the first and second passes and knock down the windrow, you take a little and leave a little!” Coyle said one of his first jobs using the road grader was on Wray Street along the west side of Philip.
Coyle noted that the newer hydraulic graders are quite an improvement from the old gear driven blades. “We used to call the old road graders knuckle busters,” said Coyle, “as when the road got rough and things were bouncing around you would always hit your knuckles when adjusting the blade to work the gravel. Many improvements have been made with equipment over the 45 years,” said Coyle. “The city sweepers have greatly improved over the years as well.”
Coyle remembers back when they would sand the winter roads around town. “One of the first times we sanded the city roads, we would just do the intersections,” said Coyle. “Oscar got a scoop shovel and a pickup with sand in it and I shoveled it off at the intersections, then we went back for more. The newer truck mounted sander helps us get to all the roads and bad spots a lot quicker than back in the 1970s.”
Being born and raised here was the biggest reason he stayed in Philip all these years. “This area is just a great place to live, work, and raise a family” said Coyle. Rick and all his brothers and sisters graduated from Philip High School and were high into sports and academics. For many years you could see a number of Coyles on the sports records in the high school gym. Rick and Rhonda’s daughter Brynn still holds a track record there.
Coyle has helped put up Christmas lights around town and has never missed a season. “We get them ready to show the week of Thanksgiving and then right after that we plug them in,” said Coyle. He remembers the time they used to put of the lights they called the Magic Square on Center Ave. The West Central Electric crew helped with that as their bucket truck was needed for it. “One of the WCE employees helped put them up and used a massive amount of half hitch knots to keep it up there along the south side of the square, tied to Kemnitz Law Office building and across the street to what is now Ignite,” said Coyle. “When we took them down it was real cold and windy out, and Norm Payne was up in the bucket that time. He tried and tried to undo all those knots and out of frustration he just cut the rope and the project was complete.”
Over the years not all working days were sunny and bright for the city crew. “I remember one of the coldest days working on a water break,” said Coyle. “We were down in front of the house owned at the time by Fred and Bev McDaniel, where the new Scotchman Living Center is now. When we finished the job, someone came out of the hospital and said it was 16 degrees below zero.”
Most of the time the break is just below where you see water coming up but Coyle remembered a time on main street when they had to dig four times to find the leak. The water line was the old cast iron and it had a hole blown out of its side. Frost carried the leaking water a long ways from the actual break. “Thank goodness they are all plastic lines now,” Coyle said.
Over the years, Rick has acquired a few other responsibilities. Rick has been taking care of the football field by watering, mowing and making sure fertilizer gets on it three to four times a year. He says it is more of a relaxing type of job he really enjoys. Another job he found himself involved in is driving the bus for high school events. “I got involved with driving the bus through track coach Jerry Rhodes,” said Coyle. He would follow their daughter, Brynn in track and video her throwing so her mom Rhonda could watch as she worked in the court house at the time. “For a while, I asked Coach Rhodes if I could just ride to the events on the bus,” said Coyle, "and it didn’t take him long to talk me into just driving, since I was going anyway. There is more activity with that job than working on the football field,” Coyle said. “The kids have been great to be around and anymore they all have ear buds and listen to their own music most of the time and it’s a lot more quiet ride than when I first started, close to 20 years ago.
Rick and Rhonda have two step-grandchildren, Austin and Brady from their daughter Brynn Crotteau and her husband Randy who live in Belle Fourche. Rick and Rhonda’s other daughter, Denise Biegler and her partner, Jeremy Reeves have two children, Alexis and Evan.
Rick’s plans are to keep doing a job that he enjoys and helping out where ever he can. His wife of many years, Rhonda is in the Philip Health Care Center, what is now the Scotchman Living Center. “That is such a nice facility and we are so blessed to have the excellent care facilities that we do here in rural Philip, SD,” said Coyle.