Park pride: Zodrow takes pleasure in job

Staff photo by E.J. Harris Lance Zodrow with the Pendleton Parks Department paints over graffiti on the Bedford Bridge Monday in Pendleton.

For 23-year-old Lance Zodrow, there's a sense of satisfaction at the end of a day's work.

Since being hired on as a seasonal worker for the Pendleton Parks Department almost a year ago, Zodrow's myriad assignments have varied from taking out the trash to putting in new recreational equipment.

"Probably one of the reasons I love my job is I can go into a park and mow it up and trim it; it just looks so precise," Zodrow said. "People like it. They look and go, 'Wow, look at that.'"

Too often, perhaps, the work also involves simply cleaning up the messes and vandalism of others.

Monday afternoon, for example, Zodrow had to paint over a fresh graffiti tag on the Amy Bedford pedestrian bridge near Pendleton High School.

"If they paint on the bridge we have to use a certain kind of paint to match the color of the bridge," he said, explaining some tagged surfaces are more difficult to fix than others.

Zodrow said he spends a lot of time repairing deliberately damaged picnic tables. And just recently in downtown Brownfield Park, some unknown culprits demolished the public bathrooms.

"We went in there and it didn't even look like nothing - it was just porcelain broken into little pieces all over the floor," he said. "They just don't like clean parks, I guess. They like 'em trashy."

Thankfully, that's not everybody, as during daylight hours, Zodrow and the other workers get to see the public enjoying the parks as they are meant to be used.

"I go down to the levee quite often cleaning that up. And there's people out there just having a good time walking with their dogs or running and jogging," he said. "People in the parks, they're just playing Frisbee or football."

Zodrow said it was pleasant to see the current Pendleton skate park recently cleaned and swept up, a trend he hopes to see continued when the new park opens.

"It's a good feeling to see people enjoying their time out in places like that," he said. "They don't want to go there and see it all messed up."

Only every now and then does something particularly out of the ordinary happen.

"I think the only thing I've really seen unusual is you go mowing, and you go around a bush and there's a guy sleeping under it," Zodrow said, noting the 10 p.m. parks curfew. "We get people that go in the bathrooms and sleep in there and lock the doors."

Zodrow said he's hoping to stay on as a seasonal employee for as long as he can and, for the long term, is waiting for a coveted permanent position to open up.

"I'll wait here until it happens," he said. "I'm pretty devoted to this work."

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