by Dennis Dalman
Ted Venske, the official Sartell City Council videographer, was honored Monday night by council members for his three years of dedicated videotaping.
Mayor Joe Perske thanked him for all the work he’s done and presented him with a gift certificate to Coborn’s.
“We really appreciate it,” Perske said, calling Venske the “guy behind the camera.”
Then each council member shook Venske’s hand and also thanked him.
“I felt pretty good about it,” Venske told the Newsleader later. “I was surprised because I wasn’t expecting it. Public works director Brad Borders told me about it before the meeting, so I knew beforehand but I sure wasn’t expecting it. Recognition is always nice. It brought up my self-esteem.”
Venske has had a long spell of unemployment – five years to be exact. That is one reason why, three years ago, after seeing a want ad on the Internet, he decided to contact the City of Sartell, which was seeking someone who could video city council meetings for live broadcast via local cable TV.
“I’d never videotaped before, but I though why not try it?” Venske said. “I thought it would be a good way to get to meet new people, to maybe network for a job. I also wanted to keep some of my college skills and work skills in practice.”
A young Sartell man named Brian Lommel helped train Venske during the council meetings. Since then, his videotaping is not only on the local Sartell cable channel, but now it’s also shown on the city’s computer website the next day. There is an entire series of Venske’s videotaped council meetings on that website. All viewers have to do is click on the date they want to see and – presto! – the meeting, gavel to gavel, is there on the computer screen complete with quality sound.
“I pretty much learned on the go,” Venske said. “This is the second system we’ve had. It’s called a Human Machine Interface system because all you have to do is touch the screen to control the camera. I also have a laptop where I can adjust the volume of the microphones.”
The latter is crucial because the volume of council members’ or audience members’ voices varies widely, from soft to loud. Venske wants to be sure people who watch and listen to the tapes will understand, hopefully, every word uttered at a meeting.
“I’m continually monitoring that volume,” he said. “I’ve really got to pay attention and be on my toes because when people speak, I turn the camera toward them. I’ve got to anticipate that.”
“I really enjoy the work,” he said.
Born in Randall, Venske graduated from Little Falls High School in 1978.
He then went on to earn three degrees. In the late 1970s, he earned a diploma in the construction-electrical program at St. Cloud Technical and Community College. After that, he attended St. Cloud State University and took off several quarters of school to make tuition money, working at Camp Ripley and at a grocery store in Randall. In 1986, he graduated with an engineering technology degree, with an emphasis on production management and electronics.
In 1996, he enrolled in the Alexandria Technical College and two years later earned an associate degree in supervisory management. During his schooling years, he used his electronic skills at Douglas Machine in Alexandria. After graduating, he continued to work for Douglas Machine until 2001 at which time he moved back to the St. Cloud area.
After working at Komo Machine in Sauk Rapids, he and many other workers there were laid off because of a decline in international customer orders.
Venske’s last paid job was with Jet Edge in St. Michael. He worked there as an electrician on motor-control panels for machines at Park Industries, a granite company.
His long spell of unemployment depleted Venske’s savings; he is now drawing upon retirement funds to get by. In the meantime, he is anything but idle. He loves to read, mainly science-fiction novels and news magazines; he enjoys movies and attending all kinds of activities in the St. Cloud area; he is a member of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society; and meets once a month with a group called SR (Sauk Rapids) Green, a group of people dedicated to improving the sustainable quality of life in the Sauk Rapids area.
Venske is still seeking work, looking for a job so he can use his considerable engineering skills.
“I would like to work for a city or a corporation so I can use the skills I learned in school and from experience,” he said. “I’ve taken courses most recently in computerized-aided drafting. It’s important to keep up with all those skills.”
Venske also enjoys singing. He is a member of the Minnesota Central Chorale, a choir that will give its annual “Cabaret” Christmas dinner concert at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14, at the Great Hall building at St. John’s University. For tickets to that concert, go to the chorale’s website at greatriverchorale.org.