Whether the mission is killing a few million mosquitoes or keeping the water flowing, city workers are on duty as most of El Campo and the nation enjoy the Labor Day holiday.
They come from different backgrounds and joined the staff of the town of El Campo for various reasons. Now they live by a motto: “Always ready”.
“Most of us do it because we enjoy it. It’s hard to find a career you love to do,” said utilities crew chief Jacob Gonzalez, who is one month away from eight years with the city.
Gonzalez was fresh out of high school when he applied with nothing but a few fast food restaurants to put on his resume.
Now he repairs water systems, among other tasks. “The best part of this job (is) being satisfied with the services we provide and have to offer,” he said.
And while the satisfaction of a job well done can be wonderful, the warmth is another matter altogether. “The heat is the worst,” he says.
Working for the city was something of a career move for Bubba Baker, who had worked at El Campo Spraying Inc. for nine years before applying.
“I was looking for a job with good benefits and the city came to mind,” Baker said.
Hired in the two-man vehicle maintenance department and later becoming the head, Baker is now a 26-year veteran leading the self-proclaimed Mosquito Assassins team.
For years, budgets for the city of El Campo have referred to a “Bubba factor,” a budget line funding mosquito control from the vehicle maintenance budget.
On a day-to-day basis, he takes care of everything from police cars and ambulances to construction trucks.
“I see it as a career for life. I love my job and the people I work with. And it’s hard to teach an old man new tricks,” said Baker, who is also a volunteer firefighter in El Campo.
Another day in the neighborhood
Vance Miller will be tending to city parks over the holidays, doing everything from cleaning up trash to the not-so-joyful task of freshening up bathrooms.
Every week, he takes care of the landscaping and mowing of the park, a task he has been doing for three years.
“I like the work, lots of opportunities. I can see myself here for a long time,” Miller said.
Mowing a park might seem easy – if you can handle the biting heat or cold of winter winds – but there’s a lot more to it to make Legacy, Friendship and the other parks inviting places. “(It requires) constant care,” he said.
Miller had worked at Walmart for seven years before applying to the city. “(I was) always looking for something with the community to make a difference in the world,” he said.
Paul Kallina spent seven years in the street department as a maintenance operator, coming from Rinker, a prefabrication company in Sealy.
“I walked 50 miles one way,” he said, adding, “(I was looking for) a future and not having to worry about layoffs like my last two jobs.”
Kallina helps rebuild roads and fills in as needed when on call.
The hardest part? “Doing things that I’ve never done before is a bit nerve-wracking at times, but very rewarding when I learn how to do it,” he said. “The people I work with, we’re like family. And I like the different hats I wear when I arrive at work. I love trimming trees, scratching, rebuilding roads, it never gets old.
The public often wants things done quickly, he said, but some things take time. “You have to do it in stages.”
Every holiday, a crew is tasked with covering routine hours, chores and emergencies on days when most fire up grills, twist caps on their favorite drinks and settle in to watch football or movies – s’ they did not come out. a lure somewhere it is.
This year Baker, Gonzalez, Kallina and Miller get the assignment. More will be called if conditions slip from a line break here or there to major issues.
“El Campo Public Works will be there, as it always is, during disasters and in the middle of the night, when trees fall, or a water main breaks, or your sewer breaks. stop, 24-7-365,” City Public Works director Kevin Thompson told The Leader-News.
Thompson is a 30-year veteran of the town of El Campo, a fifth-generation road builder.
He spent 10 years in the street department before moving into public services.
Coping with heat and cold? Thompson did. He’s also been there for holiday shifts and, at times, still responds to those everyday emergencies like a major line break tearing up a street.
Thompson is both the leader and one of the team members.
“This Labor Day, Public Works will serve our community by providing and maintaining our road infrastructure, drinking water, utilities, emergency response operations and other essential services,” he said. declared.
With heavy rain forecast from today, a minor street may be possible if a formation takes place in the area.
Storm drains will need to be checked and cleared of debris.
If rain falls around El Campo, mosquito spraying is the order of the day while keeping the parks ready for visitors.
“It’s the one job I look forward to doing every day. If you love your job, it’s not work,” Kallina said.
Gonzalez added, “You come to work every day and after hours when needed,” saying he plans to make it a lifelong career.