CEDAR FALLS — For most of his life, Craig Witry, 62, has been involved with construction in some capacity around the Cedar Valley.
In September, Witry, building official for the city of Cedar Falls, will hang up his hard hat.
“I started with Cedar Falls as a building inspector back in ’95, and I had that position until 2008 (when) I was promoted to building official,” Witry said. “We manage the construction in Cedar Falls from a building code perspective.”
Witry oversaw a period of tremendous growth, making sure all new buildings were code compliant.
“Which means that they’re safe for the occupants and that they’re built correctly so they last a long time, and that’s really what the codes are in place for,” Witry said.
During his tenure as building official, the city had its largest year of new construction ever in 2016 with $151 million in new buildings.
“Even from the time I started we’ve never really had a severe downturn in Cedar Falls in construction,” Witry said. “Even in 2008, with the national downturn, Cedar Falls really didn’t get affected.
“We’ve been busy. We’ve really been blessed in Cedar Falls with an upward trend that hasn’t taken any deep ditches.”
That growth is obvious in areas like along Greenhill Road.
“I started in ’95; what still amazes me as I drive the community is the fields of rooftops that used to be cornfields,” Witry said. “It’s just amazing.”
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At times the exponential growth was challenging, but it has always been rewarding, he said.
“It was very gratifying to see these buildings start from scratch,” he said. “I always feel like me and my guys and gals were part of a team, because it’s an effort where we all have to pull the rope in the same direction to get the outcome we want.”
Construction has always been a major part of Witry’s life. He started working in construction when he was 15 years old.
“My mom had to take me to work,” Witry said. “I started with a contractor in Hudson.”
The contractor working on a new house for Witry’s parents asked them, “What’s your son doing this summer?” Witry went on to work for that contractor through high school.
From there, he attended Hawkeye Community College and worked at John Deere for six years, as well as other companies.
Witry’s last big project with the city of Cedar Falls was the Public Safety Building that opened in July.
“That’s really been my special project,” Witry said. “It’s turned out really nice, and I hope it serves our city for a long, long time.”
Witry’s last day will be Sept. 30.
“The city of Cedar Falls has been the best place to work. I’ve enjoyed every day here. I’ve enjoyed the people I work with, my job, and everything about Cedar Falls.”