In today’s world, working at the same job for almost 32 years is rare. James Heath went to work for the City of Washington Court House in 1985, as the building and zoning inspector (1985-1990).
He was the waste water collection superintendent (1990-1996), the deputy service director (1996-2014), retiring as the city service director at the end of November.
Heath was 31-years-old and came from a construction background when then City Manager Doug Elliott hired him. Heath has worked for five city managers during his career.
Heath has helped build subdivision projects for the city and two shopping centers, Walmart and Home Depot. He was on the job when Elm Street was rebuilt from Washington Avenue to Columbus Avenue. He was also part of the total rebuild of Columbus Avenue.
In the 1990s, Heath was part of the redesign of the downtown when brick pavers, new sidewalks and new street lamps were installed. In 1995, Heath was part of the construction for the new Industrial Park. Heath also helped design the walking paths that skirt the city and worked on the recent rebuild of Leesburg Avenue. There was also the redesign of the Court Street traffic flow and the installation of new street lights, along with creating the downtown park.
Then there are the projects few residents see, like the expansions and upgrades at the water and waste water plants and helping with building the current Washington Cemetery office, the pole barn and working on the fountain project.
Heath is quick to point out that none of this was just him. He was blessed to have great support from all the service department employees. “Good crews make the projects go much better.”
Heath is also quick to praise the service department employees because “they often go the extra mile to serve the residents of our city.”
“I was blessed with a good career, doing a multitude of different jobs, making the days exciting or at least not dull. I am thankful to have lived long enough to serve this city for almost 32 years. We have very capable people to carry on the traditions and the work,” Heath said.
The last big foreseeable projects for the city are the expansion of the Industrial Park and the EPA-mandated corrections at the waste water plant. Heath hopes that the service department, which includes water, waste water, street department and the cemetery, will grow. “The service department has lost 15 employees over the past eight years due to attrition and financial cutbacks.” He is very proud, however, that the same amount of work, or more, is getting done with fewer employees, but he would “like to see the paving projects grow.”
Heath and his wife, Sherry, have five grandchildren and they will become the “job” now, as well as getting in some golf and maybe a bit of traveling.