CIRCLE PINES — After five years without a working kitchen faucet and nine months without running water, a Circle Pines resident was thrilled when area plumbers came to the rescue.

DeAnne Hartwig has lived in Circle Pines on and off for 30 years. This past winter, Hartwig's water lines burst and she couldn't afford to repair them.

“You learn how to make do. I work two jobs and I had my youngest son with me at the time I lost my water. It wasn't easy, but you learn how to live off of a certain amount of water,” she said. “I was going to Cub (Foods) once a week or going to a friend's house and filling up literally 34 gallons of water a week. You learn exactly how much water you use to wash dishes, to take a shower.”

Five members of United Association of Plumbers Local No. 15 — Ben Sackett, Carl Kron, Keith Swaggert, Pete Truhlar and Tom Pahkala — braved the sweltering heat July 18 to give back to one of its own and install water piping and fixtures that were donated by Spring Plumbing.

UA Plumbers Local No. 15 currently has over 2,000 members and has signatory contractors from Austin to Alexandria. Its jurisdictional area is the western side of the Twin Cities out to the Dakota border through St. Cloud up to Motley. There is a sister union that covers St. Paul and the eastern side of the metro.

“Local 15 was contacted by Working Partnerships about a member that was in need. Working Partnerships is a local program to help union members in need. I contacted contractors for materials, trucks, tools and manpower and reached out to our membership for additional volunteers to help,” Pahkala explained. “We decided to help this homeowner simply because she was in need and we feel that giving back is a very important part of who we are as a local union and what we represent.”

The plumbers replaced all of the water pipes in the house, ran the water lines through the house to prevent them from freezing and replaced the kitchen and bathroom faucets. “Once I heard the water flowing for first time in almost five years in my kitchen sink, I wanted to cry,” Hartwig said. “I explained to them that I hadn't had water at that particular sink for a long time, so they fixed it. What surprised me was the fact that they replaced both my kitchen and bathroom faucets.”

This act of kindness really showed Hartwig that “there are still some really good people in this world.” She added, “It showed me that no matter what type of union we are in, we all have each other's backs.”


Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or

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