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A longtime Butler County resident who filled many roles throughout the greater David City area died late last week.

Eric Betzen, 47, was a 1990 graduate of David City Public Schools and went on to work for the David City Power Plant for the better part of two decades, the last several as power plant superintendent prior to his mid-march resignation.

Most recently, Betzen served as Butler County emergency management/dispatch coordinator. In addition to his employment roles in Butler County, Betzen previously served as a volunteer firefighter – a role he picked back up this year – and was an ongoing member of the David City Public Schools Board of Education, a role he’d fulfilled since 2017.

“We are really going to miss Eric on the board,” David City Public Schools Superintendent Chad Denker said. “He was a blue-collar person who worked hard and asked a lot of really good questions – he was very invested. He went not only to the monthly board meetings but also to conferences and seminars to get better as a board member … We will miss him a lot and he has been a great addition since 2017.”

The board will now start the process of finding Betzen’s replacement, something the superintendent said he hopes can be achieved by the governing body’s Aug. 12 board meeting. Denker said the news of Betzen’s passing was a tough pill to swallow, noting that he was somebody who always went out of his way to lend a helping hand.

“He had also been helping out as a youth football coach in the fall, and if we ever needed help with wrestling he would step in,” Denker said. “And those obviously are not requirements of a school board member, but we needed the help. And that is just the kind of guy he was, he came forward and volunteered before anyone asked him to.”

David Mach, District 1 representative and chairman of the Butler County Board of Supervisors, noted how Betzen was appointed to the emergency management/dispatch coordinator position at a pretty tumultuous time in the wake of the March flooding that rocked portions of Butler County.

“He got put into the position with the flooding where it really was trial by fire,” Mach said. “But he was really handling his job well, we had no complaints … He seemed like he fit really well into the community and the surrounding community well. He just had a good work ethic and we felt confident that he was a good fit for the job.”

During its next meeting, Mach said that the board will likely discuss what action is going to be taken with the joint position of emergency manager/dispatch coordinator. He added that there may be some tweaks to the way the current position is run. In the interim, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office is handling the coordination of the county dispatch system.

Butler County Sheriff Tom Dion is another county representative who said he will miss Betzen. Prior to Dion stepping into the sheriff seat in November 2018, he worked as an assistant at the David City Power Plant for three years under Betzen.

With Betzen’s passing, the county lost a really good man, the sheriff said.

“I could talk about Eric all day,” Dion said. “He was just a super nice guy with a great sense of humor. He made contact easy for anyone whom he came into contact with. He was just an everyday guy, someone who with what you saw was really what you got.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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