Ron Fantetti, Fleet Services superintendent, is retiring from the village after 38 years of service. I’ve only known Ron for half of the years he has served the village of Oak Park, but I consider him a friend and someone who has made a difference. 

Very few residents would know of his work but because of it, his division has touched every resident of Oak Park. You see, it was Ron’s responsibility to make sure that police and fire vehicles and equipment are working to serve and protect the public; to make sure that snow plows, leaf pushers, high rangers and wood chippers, front end loaders and back hoes, and any one of 300 pieces of village equipment are in safe working order on a daily basis for this community. Ron will often remind employees that “we work for [the citizens].”

When Ron began his career in Oak Park, the fleet service division worked in the lower level of the old village hall on Euclid Avenue. His employees joke about “Ron having to shoe the horses back in the day,” but he’ll smile when he talks about the challenges of getting trucks in and out of a very tight space or scraping the grease off the floor so a vehicle wouldn’t get stuck.

Ron worked through the building of the first public works facility on South Boulevard in the late 1970s, which included the service areas, parts department, body shop, fueling station and storage garage. He was also here when the village began using CFA software, a fleet maintenance management program that provides data to help create budgets and the 10-year vehicle replacement plan. Ron is conscientious about both the budget and the state of the equipment he oversees. 

He will tell stories about some of the more “colorful characters” he has worked with over the years and the changes that have come about under different village boards, managers and public works directors. He will also say that the village provided a good career with a lot of opportunities.

The public works fire in 2004 was a shock to many of us, but its impact was felt very strongly by Ron. It was reported that he wanted to run into the burning building to save some of the equipment but was stopped by the Fire Department. This is just one example of his dedication to the village though there are many. 

When the new Public Works Center was built, Ron implemented many “green” initiatives, such as a paperless work order program, an employee bicycle fleet, truck retrofits to reduce diesel emissions, achieving alternate fuel usages for 48% of the village fleet and for hosting a “Green Fleet Expo” in 2009 and 2010. These practices received a Green Award from the Oak Park Environment & Energy Commission and have been showcased during tours of the facility since it opened in 2007.

Ron is a bit shy and very humble, but he will fiercely promote the efforts of his employees. He has always encouraged his crew to continue their education to keep up with new technologies. His employees will tell you that Ron believes in communication, is a fair boss and an honest man. 

High praise indeed.

Karen Rozmus

OP recycling coordinator

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