Public service director Harold Walker retires
By Kevin Dye
Community friends and co-workers turned out in mass Friday afternoon to say good-bye and congratulations to a long time public employee in West Jefferson.
Public Service Director Harold Walker spent his last day on the job Friday after spending the last 15 years in the position. The village held a luncheon and retirement party in his honor for a career that actually spans a lot longer than the last decade and a half.
“I’ve been here since 1979,” Walker said. “I started as a part-time meter reader out of high school, trying to earn some money for college. They then offered me a job for $2.95 an hour as a part-time water and sewer person.”
Walker moved up from those humble beginnings to help with parks and recreation before becoming public service director.
“I ran the village swimming pool for three years in 1995, ’96 and ’97,” Walker said. “I took over as public service director full-time in 1997. I worked for five mayors and the one who originally had confidence in me was L. James Miles. If it wasn’t for him I might still be at the water plant.”
During Walker’s tenure as public service director were made many improvements that benefited village residents. Walker created the cooperation among village mayors, council members and village workers for the preparation and completion of the projects.
“We had numerous improvements at the waste water plant, the reverse osmosis project at the water plant and the downtown revitalization project,” Walker said. “Mayor Tom Phillips was the main person behind the downtown revitalization to get a grant for one million dollars for the project, or it might never have happened. I’ve had a good run. We got Target and the other businesses to locate at Commerce Park, but it was all a team effort.”
Walker said that most service directors only stay on the job upwards of 10 years and he has made it to 15, so it seems like a good time to hand it over to someone else. The village recently named David Metzger to fill the position. While Walker looks forward to his retirement, he leaves the position with a bit of sadness.
“I will miss it,” Walker said. “I’ll miss the people I work with the most. They have all been great to work with and are great friends also. I’m just happy that things have gotten accomplished here in the village and I think I’ve given them a few good years.”