Oak Creek native fills position

Photos takes over as public works director


— It's been about 20 years since town officials in Oak Creek have had to fill the public works director job.

Now with it's new hire more than a month into the job, some say it could be another 20 years before they have to do it again.

Oak Creek native Jim Photos stepped into the position on Dec. 1 after Chuck Wisecup stepped down to assume the role of full-time fire chief in Oak Creek.

"I'm learning a lot and finding out a lot about the town," Photos said.

Photos worked with Wisecup while training for the job.

He said Wisecup had 20 years of information about the job, much of which needed to be passed on because it was stored in his head.

"He has been a good help," Photos said.

Stan Gale also has been helping out. He took on part-time responsibilities at the water treatment plant, coming out of retirement after working a public works job in Fort Collins.

Gale has the highest state certification to work the town's water treatment facility, something that Photos will obtain in the next few years.

For now, Gale is showing Photos some of the tricks of the trade.

Photos is an Oak Creek native, graduating from high school in 1971.

He worked at TwentyMile Coal Co. for 20 years, doing both underground and surface mining.

After that, he worked for Fox Construction. During the last few years on that job, he worked as foreman for the company.

Now in his new position, Photos faces a few challenges -- mainly the wastewater and water treatment facilities in the town.

While the water treatment plant has had a serious of upgrades through the years, Photos said he's working on making sure it is up to new standards.

The wastewater system is old and needs to be replaced throughout the town, he said. That's something that will have to be done a little at a time.

"I'm setting five-year goals," he said.

Photos also oversees maintaining the town's roads, electric, sewer and buildings.

"I think that this was one of the best decisions we've made. I think he is going to do a very, very good job," Oak Creek Mayor Cargo Rodeman said. "I believe he may take it on for the next 20 years. He's dependable and accountable."

Also, having Gale agree to work part time is a huge asset to the community, she said.

"We are very fortunate to have him. We needed him and (he said) he needed us. He's a good worker and has a wealth of knowledge," Rodeman said.

Rodeman said her biggest concern right now is replacing the wastewater collection system. It was built in 1940 and the whole thing needs replacing, she said. That means digging up the streets.

While it's happening, she said natural gas lines and cable lines would have to be put in the ground.

Photos said the work would take awhile and he will have to look for grants to help pay for it. Essentially, it will be done a portion of the town at a time, he said.


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