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Joel Formanek looks back on three years as director in Belle Plaine


Joel Formanek

New employment has taken Belle Plaine Parks and Recreation Director Joel Formanek away from his post earlier than expected. His last day on the job was June 18.

Formanek announced early this year he planned to leave as director later this summer in preparation for his marriage and move to Kansas, where his fiancée, Lindsay Beran, attends pharmacy school. He led the department a little over three years.

But when a job offer with Mobile Surgical Lasers, Lenexa, KS, came his way, Formanek chose to step down early as department head.

“The way the market is right now, it’s tough finding a job. Whenever you get one (an offer), you take it,” he commented.

As a laser technician, Formanek will set up lasers the company rents to hospitals and make sure they work properly during surgical procedures. He began his new job June 28.

Looking back on his three years with the department, Formanek commented, “It’s been fast. I think I tried to leave the city, and especially the Parks and Rec Department, improved by the projects I’ve done.”

During his watch, the department built a new shelter at Box Park and renovated the city’s other shelter houses, upgraded tennis courts and playground equipment and began campground improvements that should be completed this summer.

Top on the list of accomplishments, though, is the newly opened Belle Plaine Area Family Aquatic Center, a $2.7 million project that began as a community vision six years ago.

“Looking back on it now, it’s quite the project I can be proud of, and the community can be proud of. It turned out better than I ever thought it would. That process was amazing,” Formanek  stated.

Park Board president Les Jacobi said Formanek was a major pusher for the aquatic center and was a detail-oriented director. He knew every child by name, did much volunteer work outside the scope of his job and followed the board’s directives. “He was a great asset and a great person. We’re going to miss him,” Jacobi stated. 

While Formanek’s new job is unrelated to the one he just left, he is definitely interested in doing parks and recreation-type work in the future. He said he would miss working with children, coaching and interacting with the public.

With that in mind, Formanek is interested in earning an education degree after he establishes residency in Kansas. That degree could lead him back home.

“One day I want to get back to Iowa to be closer to our family. If I have an education degree, that gives me another door of opportunity for another job,” he said.

The last week has been busy as Formanek packed his belongings  for the move to Kansas. A variety of activities will draw him back to Belle Plaine on the weekends leading up to his Aug. 7 wedding in Victor.

“I want to thank the community for all the support. It will truly be missed by me,” Formanek noted.

He encourages the community to give the same level of support to his replacement, Belle Plaine native Kyle Spading, who took over June  21.

UPDATED June 28, 2010 3:43 PM

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