The next time that you take a drive down a city street, or use a drinking fountain, try to stop and take a moment to think.
Remember, if just for a second, that all of the things we take for granted every day had to be built by someone.
There was a time when our roads, sewer systems, electric lines and public infrastructure simply did not exist.
They were constructed by dedicated workers, who also go about their business maintaining and fixing problems in perpetuity.
Most of us tend to only notice when something goes wrong, which most of the time, it doesn’t.
That is thanks to the work of people like Jerome Davis, who has been an employee of the Jamestown Public Works Department for over 30 years and will be retiring after the New Year.
“I went to Jamestown high school and graduated in 1982,” Davis said.
“That is how I got a job here as a college student, part-time. I loved what I was doing and wanted to stay.”
Like many of his colleagues, Davis got started out on labor crew and set to work with his team working on transportation projects.
Thanks to the winter weather enjoyed here in the Southern Tier, there is never a shortage of work to be done on city streets.
“In the springtime we have a lot of work to do usually,” Davis said. “I was on a patching crew and went to the paving crew from there. Then I was in skilled labor for many years on the big pipe construction crew. I did heavy equipment for a year or so and then I became a boss. I have been a boss for 16 or 17 years now on a big construction crew.”
Working his way up the ladder, starting as a part-time crewman and eventually become a labor foreman, Davis has picked up a few lessons along the way.
In his early years, he noticed what the successful bosses did, how they carried themselves and treated the people that worked under them. Now, he has a chance to put those lessons to work.
“They took pride in their work. That is what we were taught by the guys before us and that is what we try to teach now,” Davis said.
Over the years, the biggest changes in the public works department have come from technology.
New materials and equipment enter the fold to make work easier, hopefully, but when the rubber meets the road there still need to be people like Davis to get the job done.
Right now there are no specific retirement plans on the book for the longtime DPW leader, maybe just a vacation.
“It has been 35 years, I’m just going to relax for a bit and see how it goes,” he said.