The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Rest and Retreat Will Not Define Murphy's Retirement


January 30, 2019

Jess Murphy has retired from the Blaine County Road and Bridge Department.

The Road and Bridge Department is responsible for maintaining over 1200 miles of County roads and 62 bridges within Blaine County. That kind of responsibility is something that Jess Murphy took seriously for the past fourteen years.

"I wanted to do the job right for the taxpayers," Murphy said. "They were paying my wages, and I wanted to be a good steward of the taxpayers' money."

At the end of 2018, Murphy decided to retire. He was a blade operator for the last four years of his career with the road department. His job was to blade the road from Cleveland, south to the McClelland Ferry. "Last winter, I remember having to come in with the blade, bouncing from one snowbank to another," he said.

His first ten years with Blaine County were spent on the bridge crew, operating an excavator and setting several bridges. He recalled with fondness the construction of three multi-plate pipe bridges: one on Cherry Ridge Road, one on Yantic Road, and one on the Bagan Road. He described the construction process for preformed concrete bridges, as well.

"Those projects were memorable because they had to be completed in stages. We'd do the dirt work to set the footings and then we'd construct the bridges. Often, any culverts were put together at the fair grounds and craned out to location," Murphy said.

About his time with Blaine County, Murphy especially loved the machinery-whether a backhoe, a blade, or an excavator-and working with the crews on big projects like the bridges. "When I'm 80 years old, I'll be able to take a drive out to one of the bridges with my grandchildren and tell them that I had a hand in building that. Leaving a legacy like that is pretty memorable," he stated.

Prior to working for the County, Murphy was a produce man for 25 years with the grocery store chains Buttrey's and Albertsons. During those days, in the evenings and on weekends, he would do carpentry work with John Brummer. "John was a good guy. I remember one year when we had a bad hail storm, and we did 27 roofs on those weekends and evenings."

Now that he is retired, Murphy will put those carpentry skills to use once again. "As long as my body holds up, I plan to complete some construction jobs," he said. From the framing to the finish work, Murphy enjoys all aspects of carpentry.

"Our sixty acres here always need work, too, so I'm sure I'll stay busy," he added.

Murphy also enjoys restoring old vehicles. His 1951 Chevy pickup, which he has exhibited in several shows, is a testament to his talent and passion. He also has a 1954 Ford Customline classic car about which he spoke proudly.

"If I get the time, I own a 1941 Chevy that I would like to restore and paint red as a State Farm vehicle for my daughter Crystal. I also have a 1966 Ford ¾ ton that I would like to modernize with a running gear. And I have several tractors to restore. As long as the money is there, I will have plenty of tinkering," Murphy laughed.

But the best part of retirement, according to Murphy, will be the time spent with his four grandchildren. "Grand kids are my shining light," he said. "They give me a new lease on life. I have three right here on the place, the Stepper kids, and I have one in Helena. With my free time, I can now travel more frequently to Helena to visit. I have to have my grand kid fix!"

For Jess Murphy, retirement may mean he has left his job, but he clearly is not ceasing to work. While one's retirement years bring many changes, for a growing number of people, like Murphy, this time of life is about anything but withdrawal, rest, or retreat.


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