Longtime city backhoe operator retires


By Glenn Battishill - gbattishill@aimmediamidwest.com



Water Distribution Technician Brad Smith on the job Thursday morning on Central Avenue. Smith said he’s been with the city since 1987 and has enjoyed getting to know all the people in the city from the cab of a backhoe.

Water Distribution Technician Brad Smith on the job Thursday morning on Central Avenue. Smith said he’s been with the city since 1987 and has enjoyed getting to know all the people in the city from the cab of a backhoe.


Lee Yoakum | City of Delaware

After 30 years with the City of Delaware, Water Distribution Technician Brad Smith retired Friday.

Smith said he came to Delaware in 1987 from Harrisville, Ohio, and began working for the city’s street department on Oct. 5, 1987. Smith said he worked with the street department for a few years before moving to the water department, where he worked for 25 years.

Smith said he primarily operated a backhoe but did other tasks for the water department as well.

“It’s been a good job. It’s done me well,” Smith said. “The city has treated me good.”

Smith laughed when reflecting on his last week after Monday’s 16-inch water main break on King Avenue and a truck getting wedged under the Central Avenue “can opener” bridge, less than a block from where Smith was working at the time.

“It (was) a crazy week for the end of my time,” Smith laughed.

According to Smith, the “wildest” thing he took part in was repairing a water main break in the Olentangy River near the William Street bridge.

“It was the 90s …. We had a main break on William Street and it went through the river,” Smith said. “They had to hire a company to come in with track hoes and dozers to build us a dike. Then they set a box (in the river), and I had to get in there and cut (the water main) out.”

“Water starts seeping in. I was in mud to my knees and had to cut that main out,” Smith continued. “All these people was standing up on the bridge watching down on me. That was the scariest. I couldn’t get my legs out real good! I saw that water seeping in a little bit and I’m thinking, ‘Man, this thing is just gonna let loose and I’m done!’”

Smith said he’s made so many friends in the department and just by meeting people in the city on the job.

“Delaware is a great little town, I’ll never move,” Smith said. “I’ll miss operating the equipment and some of the people I worked with.”

Smith joked that the one thing he won’t miss is main breaks.

As far as retirement plans go, Smith said he’s planning to ride his motorcycle, hunt more often, and spend time with his granddaughters.

Blake Jordan, the city’s director of utilities, said Smith is an irreplaceable presence at the department.

“It’s almost something you can’t replace,” Jordan said.

Jordan added he can’t imagine anyone handling a main break like the King Avenue main break the way Smith handled it. “He’s an all-star backhoe operator,” Jordan said. “He will be deeply missed here. It will be a long time before it all feels as fluid as it does right now.”

Water Distribution Technician Brad Smith on the job Thursday morning on Central Avenue. Smith said he’s been with the city since 1987 and has enjoyed getting to know all the people in the city from the cab of a backhoe.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2018/04/web1_Smith.jpgWater Distribution Technician Brad Smith on the job Thursday morning on Central Avenue. Smith said he’s been with the city since 1987 and has enjoyed getting to know all the people in the city from the cab of a backhoe. Lee Yoakum | City of Delaware

By Glenn Battishill

gbattishill@aimmediamidwest.com

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.