For over 37 years, Tim Belzer has been printing something every day. Belzer, who mans the Ottumwa Community School District’s print shop, will retire after 25 years of service next week.
A man of few words, Belzer has been responsible for the printed word for over two decades. Times have changed since he began in 1991. At that time, two operators ran offset presses. Electrostatic masters, or paper plates, were used, along with ink and solvents. He estimates those presses produced nearly 7 million impressions annually. Not only did this include student work sheets but district printing such as employee contracts, handbooks, directories, etc.
The first copy machine was introduced in 1995 and the department was reduced to one person after the retirement of the other printer.
Today, the smell of ink and solvents is no longer present. The print shop features two state-of-the-art copy machines, stacks of copy paper, and still copies approximately 5 million pages per year. He sees the trend continuing to decline with increasing use of technology. While the copies are only printed in black ink, Belzer noted the quality of the halftones is very good. Halftones, a term used in printing for photographs, dates back to Belzer’s 12 years as a pressman at The Ottumwa Courier.
Belzer will miss working with district employees but looks forward to spending time working on home and yard projects or fishing.