Meet the Man Who Takes the Beauty of West Bloomfield Parks 'Personal'

Parks and Recreation Superintendent Joe Ketchum honored for 20 years service this month: 'I used to think every parks system was the same.'

Back in 1982, E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial was beloved for its brilliant special effects, Cats opened for the first time on Broadway and Joe Ketchum came to West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation as its Superintendent, a graduate fresh out of Central Michigan University.

Indeed, a lot has changed. Ketchum, honored for 20 years service by the Parks and Recreation Commission last week, said that his appreciation of Township residents has grown with the scope his work and the support of the public.

"We started off as a maintenence staff in basically a garage at Bloomer Park," Ketchum said before the commission meeting on Thursday night. "Now, I look at Marshbank and remember how far we've come. With the economy the way it's been lately, to see people continue to support our work as it's grown with millage votes means a lot."

Parks and Recreation Director Dan Navarre said that Ketchum's fingerprints can be seen all over the parks system in more ways than one. In addition to being in charge of maintaining parks and training field staff, Ketchum works with administrators and commissioners on projects including the annual budget.

"Our parks look good because he's taken it personal, to make sure our parks are the best they can be and have a high standard," said Navarre, adding that Ketchum's experience with the position is greater than his own by some six years.

Despite the fact that his seniority runs greater than most, Ketchum expressed a touch of humility while speaking with the commission. He admitted that he came into the job, not expecting to work more than a two-year stint. 

It should not be a surprise to see Ketchum working for years to come. "I used to think, coming out of college, that every parks system was the same. This has been a unique, terrific job, and I just appreciate the chance to do it."

According to the township's website, the Commission operates and maintains 516 acres of parkland in addition to using a portion of the 99-­acre civic center and the recreation community center at the civic center campus. For more information, visit westbloomfieldparks.org.

Jeff Gabalski November 19, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Congratulations Joe! I have personally worked with Joe over the past 5-6 years as a part of NFWB Little League. Joe has gone above and beyond to accommodate our needs to provide baseball and softball for youth in our community.
Lorna McEwen December 04, 2012 at 01:36 PM
West Bloomfield parks are reputed within and outside the township for their beauty and the fastidious care with which they are maintained. Asw someone who was in a major way responsible for the conservation of more than half the 516 acres of parkland here, I am especially appreciative of Joe's (and Dave Burley's) loving care to keep them as beautiful, perhaps even more beautiful than they were when they became part of the system. When I first moved to West Bloomfield there were essentially no parks at all. As I trekked around my subdivision for the League of Women Voters with a petition to establish a parks commission, one resident commented that if I wanted parks I should probably move to Birmingham -- but she signed the petition among enough others to put the question on the ballot and was successfully approved. Thanks again, Joe, and keep up the good work!-- Lorna McEwen
Timothy Rath December 04, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Jeff and Lorna — Thanks for the terrific perspectives!


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