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Posted on: January 22, 2024

Roseville’s Mechanics Work Behind the Scenes to Keep the City on Track

Roseville’s Mechanics Work Behind the Scenes to Keep the City on Track

It takes more than 330 vehicles to keep the City of Roseville rolling. That's everything from fire engines to street sweepers to construction equipment.

Ken Hopkins and Jeff Domagala are the city’s mechanics under the hood making sure it all runs smoothly.

Ken and Jeff handle everything from regular bumper-to-bumper maintenance to diagnostics and repairs on nearly all the city’s vehicles.

“They can fix anything. These guys are really talented,” said Roseville’s Public Works Superintendent Steve Zweber. 

Roseville mechanic Ken Hopkins smiles while working on a work truck.The city’s massive fleet includes police squads and fire trucks that are on the move 24 hours a day, year-round; as well as snow plows and Zambonis in the winter; and industrial mowers and dump trucks in the summer.  

Each spring and fall, Ken and Jeff also repurpose dozens of trucks and front loaders for seasonal uses – adding plow blades and sanders in the fall and removing them in the spring. 

Just keeping parts organized and within arm’s reach is a big job. 

“We have 2,200 active parts that we use. We have 878 in stock and inventoried,” Ken said. 

Ken, who has worked as a professional mechanic for nearly four decades, joined Roseville in 2001. Roseville Mechanic Ken Hopkins works on a snow plow.

“I grew up with a wrench in my hand. My uncles on my mother’s side were all mechanics,” said Ken, who is the city’s vehicle maintenance foreman.

He said the challenge of working on so many vehicles and systems is what keeps the job interesting.

“That’s the fun part, trying to figure out what’s going on and make it work,” Ken said. “It could be something so simple that we see the problem right away, or we sometimes have to chase it down step by step.”

“We enjoy the challenge,” Jeff said. 

The Roseville Public Works Maintenance garage. Jeff, who has worked as a professional mechanic for more than 30 years, joined Roseville in 2015. He went to school for auto body repair but said he gravitated toward mechanical systems. He’s worked for the cities of St. Paul Park, Newport, and Cottage Grove earlier in his career.

“They are hard-working. They are dedicated and they are experts at what they do," Zweber said. 

Fire engines and snow plows are some of the most complex vehicles they service and repair. The city’s largest fire engine ladder truck weighs 77,000 pounds, or nearly 38 tons. The mechanics use a special set of jacks to hoist up the engine and make repairs. 

During plow season, Ken and Jeff say they’re busy making repairs and replacing blades as equipment breaks down. During snowstorms, while plow drivers are out clearing streets in the middle of the night, Ken and Jeff are at the city garage ready to troubleshoot any problems. 

The Roseville Public Works Maintenance garage. “When it snows and the guys are out plowing, we’re here,” Ken said. “If something breaks, we have to be here to fix it fast.”  

If a plow driver calls in sick, Ken and Jeff will fill in.  

 The city’s nearly two dozen police squad vehicles require the most routine maintenance. They typically need new brakes and tires every 20,000 to 25,000 miles.  

 “We go through a lot of tires.  Police vehicle tires wear out twice as fast as the tires on regular vehicles,” Ken said. “That’s because they are on the roads so much, making corners, speeding up, and stopping fast."

 Roseville Snow PlowKen and his wife live in East Bethel. They have three children and five grandsons. In his free time, he likes to work on his 1968 Torino, 1967 Cougar, and his 1963 Fairlane.  

 Jeff and his wife live in Cottage Grove. They have six children. Jeff and his wife also enjoy classic cars in their free time including his 1964 Impala and his 1987 Buick Grand National.

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