Clean & Safe ambassador recognized for dedication to downtown DuluthKevin Lohman begins his work day before most people are even out of bed, but the member of the Downtown Clean & Safe Team says he rarely tires during his shift.
By: Tom Olsen, Duluth Budgeteer News
Kevin Lohman begins his work day before most people are even out of bed, but the member of the Downtown Clean & Safe Team says he rarely tires during his shift.
For his dedication to keeping the streets and sidewalks of downtown clean, Lohman was recently named 2012 Ambassador of the Year by the Greater Downtown Council.
“He is dedicated and dependable — very much so,” said Jim Janousek,
operations manager for the Clean & Safe Team. “From an employer’s point of view, that’s a terrific thing. He’s extraordinary.”
Janousek said he’s impressed by how quickly Lohman has adapted to the position, which he has held for only about a year and a half.
“A lot of what we do is dispense hospitality and information, so our ambassadors have to be very approachable,” he said. “Kevin really pays attention and gets involved when necessary.”
Lohman was humbled by the recognition.
“I like to think that if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it to the best of my capabilities,” he said. “I like to think that I will go above and beyond what we’re out here doing.”
Lohman, a former bowling machine technician, said he remembers seeing members of team around downtown, and knew that it was something that was right for him.
He begins work at 5:30 a.m., emptying all of the trash cans throughout downtown before the morning commute. But he spends much of his day walking a Superior Street beat, picking up litter and cigarette butts and removing graffiti.
On snowy days, Lohman brings out a shovel and helps clear paths for pedestrians, especially around street corners where the snow can pile up.
No matter what he’s doing, Lohman gets the chance to interact with residents and tourists throughout the day. He has come to know some passersby by name, while others stop by to introduce themselves.
“There’s a real mixed bag of people out here,” Lohman said. “When I first started out, I was the first one to always to express the greeting. Now there’s a lot of times that the people are expressing their greetings before I’m able to.”
Even during the bitter cold snaps that hit Duluth last month, Lohman was working the streets every day.
“Most of the people really seem concerned about us. When it’s cold out they’re like, ‘Jeez, what are you doing out? You’ve got to get in,’” he said. “They care about us, just as I do about the people.”
Lohman and fellow team members are trained to not only keep downtown clean, but also safe. Wearing bright green shirts, the ambassadors are easy to spot on downtown streets and in the skywalk.
While they mostly help by providing directions and information, the team members can also contact police on behalf of pedestrians. If they see someone who appears to be homeless, they will contact CHUM for assistance, Lohman said.
The Clean & Safe Team works throughout the Downtown Waterfront District, which extends roughly from Mesaba Avenue to 10th Avenue East and from Second Street down to Canal Park.
“This is a good deal for Duluth,” Lohman said, noting that most cities don’t have a comparable program. “This is the only job I’ve had where I’ve been thanked so much. People stop and honk every day. It makes you feel good.”
Janousek said Lohman wasn’t an easy choice for the award. He’s got a staff of about six or seven members during the winter months and 12 or 13 during the summer.
“Kevin is a clear choice, but it was a tough choice because I have a very good staff,” he said. “The work ethic and ownership they take is unequaled. They all bring the same passion to what they do. I’m lucky; my whole staff is like that right now.”