The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Meet Your Neighbor

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner



MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR JEFF TEE, born in Burlington, IA. Other than traveling for work, I have lived in Oquawka my entire life and he says, "I'm a proud, self-proclaimed, river rat."

His Dad is Ron "Red" Tee, a retired Teamster who lives in Oquawka in the house Jeff grew up in. His mother is Connie Link Chenault, retired and lives in Burlington. His Grandmother Evelyn Link, is of Oquawka, known as "Crazy Grandma Evie," he says. "I am an only child."

In 2007, Jeff married Brenda West who works at the Henderson County Library. She also does the bookkeeping for their business, Tee Construction, LLC.

They have one son, Braden, who is beginning his freshman year in high school. They also have a Silver Labrador Retriever named Benton (after our favorite island on the river). Benton has become a local celebrity due to his Facebook page where he makes funny and sarcastic observations about the world, as he sees it.

Jeff is a 1989 Union High School graduate and owner of Tee Construction LLC offering directional drilling, trenching, excavating, etc. He started working for his uncle in the underground utilities industry during the summers when he was 13 years old. Other than working a few months at the Oquawka grain elevator and a brief stint as a masonry laborer in 1993, Jeff has been working in this industry ever since.

He bought his first directional drilling rig in 2006 when he was working 4 ten-hour days for a union company, thinking he could make a little extra money on a Friday every now and then. After being laid off by the company in 2007, the side gig became his full-time gig.

His hobbies are boating in the Summer and deer hunting in the Fall. He loves to take Benton swimming and watch him run in the timber.

He began attending Oquawka Board meetings in 2016 because he was interested in what was going on in his community. He said, "It occurred to me that no one was reporting on the meetings. I used to love to read Gus Hart's editorials and his column about the board meetings when he had the Oquawka Current. I decided, since I was attending the meeting anyway, I might as well start writing about it myself.

"The first time I wrote about a meeting was in October 2018 on my personal Facebook page. I wasn't sure what people would think. I wasn't a writer but I thought I was pretty good at telling a story and getting the facts straight, which was my main goal."

Jeff said that when he was done writing the article, the words River Rat News popped into his head.

"I had never thought of the phrase before but I found it was funny so I used it to sign off. As soon as I wrote those words, I thought of Joe Friday from Dragnet saying his famous tag line " Just the facts, Ma'am".

"I thought that was funny and summed up what I was trying to do which was keep my personal opinions out of what I was writing. So, from the very first article, ‘River Rat News' and "Just the facts Ma'am" were used.

"After a few months of using my personal page, I decided to make a dedicated page called River Rat News to share the meetings and other events that happen in and around Oquawka that otherwise wouldn't get recognition."

Jeff agreed to send his article each month to The Quill.

Jeff's future plans are to continue to teach Braden the business of directional drilling so that he can take it over some day, if he chooses to. He would also like to spend as much time in Key West as possible. But he says for now, " I'm just looking forward to watching my boy play football."