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What's on my desk? City engineer’s office a bastion of utility

Moorhead City Engineer Bob Zimmerman’s office doubles as a conference room. Dave Olson / The Forum

Moorhead -- Bob Zimmerman works in Moorhead City Hall in an office several stories above the Red River, which he can see through large windows.

The vantage point is fitting, as the river has come to figure prominently in the job Zimmerman does as Moorhead’s city engineer.

“A lot of the stuff in this room is related to flood projects we’re working on related to flood events since 2009,” Zimmerman said.

“I bet over half the paperwork here is somehow related to all the flood stuff,” added Zimmerman, who began working for the city in 1989 as superintendent of environmental systems.

Later, he became assistant public works director and in 2002 he assumed his current role as city engineer.

Zimmerman said the flood work done over the past five years shifted the city’s focus and resources away from other priorities, but he said attention is shifting back to things like residential streets

His spacious office, which doubles as a conference room, is kept tidy, a condition that extends to files and stacks of paper piled on desks and shelves.

Personal items are few and mostly photographic in nature.

One grouping of photos is associated with Lake Maud, a lake in Becker County, Minn., where Zimmerman has a seasonal home.

He refers to it as a place where he can get away from it all, though he admits he now has Internet access there and work has a way of finding him.

Other items in his office include:

1. Photos of his sons Jon and Bret, taken at various ages. Jon, the eldest, is now 29. Bret is 25.

2. Official paperwork.

3. An aerial photograph of the Moorhead wastewater treatment plant, which started operating in 1983. Zimmerman said he likes the photo because it is a reminder of one of the major responsibilities of the engineering department.

4. Diplomas and other bona fides, including his professional engineering licenses.

“To be honest, there really isn’t a lot of personal stuff in here,” Zimmerman said, adding that engineers typically are not known for having outgoing personalities.

“The definition of an extroverted engineer is the one who talks to your shoes instead of his own,”

Zimmerman said.

Dave Olson
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