Get to Know Your City Government - Aaron Semmler senior maintenance worker Parks Dept.

Aaron Semmler - senior maintenance worker with the city of Pierre Parks Department.

What exactly do you do?

Basically, our team tries to make the parks as nice and comfortably clean as you would your own backyard. We cut down trees deemed hazardous, diseased, or dead. We repair sinks and toilets in the public restrooms, and we will eventually maintain water fountains too; they’ll come back online with the new drinking water treatment facility. We pick up trash as we see it on our routine travels through the parks. We also help develop landscape concepts, install parks equipment and infrastructure, and repair greenspace damaged by park renovations.

What are your responsibilities?

Aside from all the previously listed duties, my primary responsibility is our irrigation system. I work with a team to design and install new irrigation systems on all city properties. We diagnose overcoverage and undercoverage areas — mostly found by standing water and or dry spots. We replace irrigation heads that are old or outdated (run over by mowers) and try to get as much uniform coverage as is possible under the conditions provided. I have been in this position since December of 2019. My first full season with the park staff is quickly approaching, and I feel as though it has only just begun.

What is one of the best aspects of your job?

To ask what might be one of the more fun aspects of my job is not fair to all of the other things that I also find fun about my job. The fact is, I went to SDSU and received a formal education in all of the things that I get to do in a day. Then I go home and do all of the same things that I do at work. You might say that it is ingrained into my DNA. The most fun part of my job is when we take a concept for a park area and implement it to completion. It will be equally enjoyable every year after to watch the park system evolve into the next generation of tree growth, playground locations, aquatic centers, dog parks, and whatever else is dreamt up along the way. Having the ability to help beautify the community I grew up in is an amazing opportunity to me, and I am grateful for it.

What is one of the worst aspects of your job?

This profile might be it! Writing about myself is uncomfortable. The Parks Department is a team, and everything that we accomplish is accomplished as a team. There’s a lot to get done in a relatively small window. Some tasks are easier than others. Cutting down a 100 year old cottonwood tree because it’s leaning dangerously, making sure it doesn’t fall on parks equipment, and coordinating with other departments isn’t easy. With such a large area to manage and so many different things to do, it’s hard to get everything accomplished. So, the worst aspect might possibly be trying to get everything accomplished in a 40 hour work week.

What’s something about your job that people might find surprising?

Surprising… hmmmm? Well, the irrigation system does everything all by itself; just turn ‘em on in the spring and then blow ‘em out in the fall. It just works! OK – it’s a little more complex than that… I maintain more than 3,500 sprinkler heads. They are attached to 363 valves and an unknown amount of miles of different pipe sizes and types. Altogether, this system has 44 separate controllers monitored by an equal amount of backflow preventers. At the end of the day, it keeps me busy.

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