“I’d like to thank the people of Lansing, for the privilege of serving you,” says Verkaik
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (September 5, 2018) – During the Mayor’s Report at last night’s meeting of the Board, Mayor Patty Eidam recognized the retirement of Lansing Fire Chief Ken Verkaik. “Chief Verkaik has asked us to forgo the formality of presenting him with a plaque recognizing his retirement,” explained the Mayor, “and we decided to grant his wish. But we do want Ken and his family to know that today we honor him in his retirement.”
Mayor Eidam continued with a short biography of Chief Verkaik’s career in the Lansing Fire Department, from 1986 until the present. Instead of presenting a plaque, she presented him with a donation for his church, which he graciously accepted.
Verkaik thanked Mayor Eidam and the Board for their support of the Lansing Fire Department. “I’d also like to thank all of you department heads,” he said, nodding to the row of leaders he had served with since 2015. “It’s been a pleasure working with you. You are a great group of professional people, and it’s been my pleasure and honor to work with you.”
“I thank my family,” said Verkaik, pausing a moment to control the wavering in his voice. “They have supported me through all these years—good and bad—and I couldn’t do it without them.”
“These brothers and sisters of mine here,” Verkaik indicated the row of firefighters who had joined the meeting to honor their chief, “have been great to work with. They made the last 30 years of my life a pleasure. Thank you.”
Turning to the audience, Verkaik concluded, “And lastly, I’d like to thank the people of Lansing, for the privilege of serving you. It has been my pleasure and my honor. Thank you.”
Chief Verkaik received a standing ovation as he shook the hands of the Board before returning to his seat. At the end of the meeting, Mayor Eidam announced that Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Tempelman would be serving as Interim Fire Chief. Verkaik gladly relinquished his place at the table, and the other department heads welcomed Tempelman to his new role.
The Board wished Tempelman good luck, and he laughed and admitted, “Big shoes to fill!”