Steaming into retirement
Budgets give way to steam engines
by Lynn Meredith
Whether he’s fixing a musical phrase, fiddling with a steam engine or analyzing a budget, Tom Runty comes by his many talents naturally.
He will retire this year from his position as assistant superintendent of business for the Kaneland School District and plans to spend more time enjoying the things that are in his blood.
One of those things is steam engines. He owns two, a 1920 engine that is currently “in pieces” and a restored and running 1913 engine.
“You’re always tinkering with them. It’s in my blood. My dad was into that stuff. He gave me a tabletop steam engine and I had it for years and years,” Runty said. “It’s the history of it. You kind of fall in love with steam. The sounds, the smells, the sights, how the engine operates and how it does things. It’s more than a tractor. These things move at a slower pace, but they seem to live and breathe. It’s a different feel, and it gets inside you.”
The engines remind Runty of the type of farming he grew up with as a kid in Manhattan, Ill., where corn was harvested on the cob, rather than harvested by combine, and later shelled.
“This is communal farming that I grew up with,” he said. “We picked corn. My uncle owned the sheller, so he’d bring the sheller over. We’d provide the tractor. The next door neighbor would bring over an old truck, probably from the early 40’s,” he said. “People would bring grain trucks or just bring shovels, and the ladies would get together and fix the meal. We’d go help others. That’s what I remember from growing up-shelling corn.”
On his watch
â€¢ Dec. 1998-Tom Runty is hired as
Assistant Superintendent of Business
â€¢ 1999-200 acres are purchased on
Harter Road for future middle school
campus; land purchased in
to accommodate future growth
â€¢ 2001-Referendum fails
â€¢ 2002-Referendum passes
â€¢ 2004-Blackberry Creek
Elementary School opens
â€¢ 2005-McDole Elementary
â€¢ 2006-Kaneland Auditorium opens
â€¢ 2007-Referendum fails
â€¢ 2008-Referendum passes
â€¢ 2009-Construction of Harter Road
Middle School begins
“He’s been in the driver’s seat supervising the construction
from the district’s standpoint. He’s been in hundreds of meetings
and made thousands of decisions.”
Charlie McCormick, Superintendent
“He’s very easygoing, easy to work with. He’s understanding and not easily upset. If he gets upset, he has a really good reason. It’s truly rare.”
Administrative Assistant for Business
“Tom brings great competency to his position. You can rely that things are going to be done the way they need to be done. He provides the background calculations and rationale as to why we ask the public to increase a certain amount. That’s the key to everything that’s happened.”