A jack of all trades and master of most is a good way to describe Kevin Stroda.
Stroda started working for the city of Abilene in November 1984 and is retiring Tuesday as the street supervisor. He had worked for several companies including Electric Wheel, Vacu-Blast Corporation and the Kansas Department of Transportation before that and the knowledge he gained has been useful for the city of Abilene’s Public Works Department.
“I grew up on a farm and anytime you have a farm, you learn to take care of your own equipment and figure things out pretty much on your own,” Stroda said.
Using used parts, Stroda built two pieces of equipment that the city of Abilene still utilizes after 30 years.
One is the grass and leaf composter at the Abilene Recycling Center and the other is an automatic sprayer.
Also, soon after beginning to work for the city, Stroda constructed the backstops at the Bill Gravette Complex.
Grass clippings and other vegetation run through the composter, moisture is added and it decomposes into dirt. That rich dirt full of nitrogen is eventually given away to residents.
Shortly after Stroda started working for Abilene, the city was looking at spending $125,000 on an industrial composter.
Stroda and Sonny Davis built one from used agriculture parts. Stroda did most of the framework and Davis added the hydraulics.
“We bought lots of parts at Abilene Machine,” Stroda said.
The two designed the composter, still in use, by looking at a picture and watching a demonstration on how an industrial composter works.
Stroda said the city spent around $30,000 for the parts.
“It’s getting old,” Stroda said. “We had to replace the engine once.”
The drive wheels are from an International tractor. The hydraulics and drive wheels are from a combine. The front end is a revamped back wheel of a John Deere swather. The cab is off a New Holland swather. The original engine came out of International combine. It now has a Caterpillar engine.
Stroda also designed a weed sprayer to spray cracks in the pavement and parking lots controlled from inside the cab so the operator doesn’t have to stop and get out of the truck.
On the front of the sprayer he designed an arm that moves up and down from a 1962 Lincoln automatic window motor.
Stroda said he went to Sutton Salvage looking for a device to move the arm up and down.
He said he asked Mark Sutton about the possibility of using a windshield wiper. He suggested the window motor.
“He said those years of cars the window motors were powerful,” he said.
As for the streets of Abilene, Stroda said the best thing to happen to them was the 0.25 cent sales tax.
“Since then we’ve got some good street improvements,” he said. “We have been able to make some headway on the different places.”
He said the city just wrapped up improvements on Elm Street.
“Always before if they had some extra money on the general fund, we could do some major street work,” he said. “We mostly did maintenance.”
Stroda said he has a farm up north and one south of Abilene that need some work after his retirement. He said he and his wife Bonnie plan some traveling as they have grandchildren in the Kansas City area.
Contact Tim Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org.