After more than 20 years tending to the community’s bloodlines, bones and bowels, Director of Public Works Bob Kutak will resign from the job this summer to relocate his family to southern Illinois. Kutak, who has headed the department since 1999, informed village officials March 6 of his intention to quit the post. His resignation will take effect July 1.
“I love my job and it’s actually tearing my heart apart,” Kutak said. “I love the type of work I’m in.”
Born and raised in Forest Park, Kutak said the decision to leave the community and his job was fueled by considerations for his family. In early October, Kutak buried his mother-in-law, Diane Ward of McClure, after she succumbed to ovarian cancer. His wife’s father, also a resident of McClure, is waging his own battle with cancer and the disease is currently in remission, he said.
“[My wife] wants to be with her dad,” Kutak said.
The relocation will also bring the family to within a 45-minute commute to Southern Illinois University where Kutak’s daughter, currently a student at Fenwick High School, will attend college.
Kutak began his career with the village as a “rank and file” employee, according to a statement released by the mayor’s office, and climbed the ladder to the top in 1999. The Department of Streets and Public Improvements was merged with the Department of Public Property that year, and Kutak was appointed to head the office.
“Bob is the epitome of the perfect employee,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said in a written statement. “He is a hardworking, trustworthy guy with a whole lot of good old fashioned common sense.”
Commissioner Mark Hosty, one of two elected officials overseeing Kutak’s office, praised the outgoing director for his leadership on several fronts. Infrastructure and streetscape improvements along Madison Street and the $10 million Village Improvement Program, which rehabbed 40 percent of the alleys and 25 percent of the roadways in 2005 and 2006, were both managed by Kutak.
In addition to his professional expertise, said Hosty, Kutak brings a level of institutional knowledge to the job that will be difficult to replace.
“He knows the town. He’s been around it forever,” Hosty said. “The guy is going to be a huge loss.”
Village officials have not yet begun serious talks on replacing Kutak, but likely the nod for the next director will come from Hosty, Tellalian and Village Administrator Mike Sturino. Historically, council members have easily won the votes needed to push through their choice of who will head up the department that each commissioner is charged with overseeing. Ironically enough, Kutak’s rise to the director’s office followed a contentious appointment process in which the village council blocked the recommendation of two first-time commissioners.
“The ultimate decision is with the council,” Sturino said. “Bob answered to both Commissioner Hosty and Commissioner Tellalian. We’re still talking about how this should be handled.”
Hosty, a three-term commissioner who held office during Kutak’s selection, said he and Tellalian will decide on a replacement. Tellalian said he appreciates having several months to make the decision and would generally favor promoting from within the department’s ranks.
“When you have the right commissioners I don’t think it’s complicated,” Hosty said. “Marty and I get along.”
Kutak said his successor can be found in-house, and that there are several employees capable of running the department.