City honors longtime employees Marsh, Jarvis | SteamboatToday.com

City honors longtime employees Marsh, Jarvis

Workers each have logged 30 years

Brandon Gee

Dave Jarvis takes a break from his workday Monday at the city of Steamboat Springs' Waste Water Treatment Plant. Jarvis and fellow city employee Doug Marsh recently were honored for their 30 years of employment with the city.

— Dave Jarvis and Doug Marsh have seen just about everything in Steamboat Springs change during the past three decades – except their employer.

The city of Steamboat Springs recently awarded Marsh, the city’s street/fleet superintendent, and Jarvis, a senior plant operator at the city’s wastewater treatment plant, for 30 years of service in vital, yet unsung fields.

“We really appreciate what they do for the community,” interim City Manager Wendy DuBord said. “They’re very much behind the scenes. : They’ve both been doing it well for a long time.”

DuBord said the institutional knowledge held by the city’s longtime employees is exceptionally valuable. Public Works Director Philo Shelton agreed. In addition to Marsh and Jarvis, the city honored Gilbert Anderson and Joe Pokay, who also are public works employees, for their 25 years of service.

“It’s just a huge amount of institutional knowledge,” Shelton said of his seasoned workforce. “Every time I’m going back trying to figure out why something was done, they have the answers.”

At the wastewater treatment plant Monday, Jarvis moved between beakers and test tubes in a blue jumpsuit, testing and monitoring the biological processes that take place at the plant. Jarvis is making sure the plant is using the right amount of microorganisms, which are added to incoming raw sewage to “eat” it.

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“Basically we’re doing what nature does in 100 miles in 100 yards,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis, who previously worked for the street department before moving to the wastewater treatment plant in 1989, said it has been interesting to watch Steamboat change from a mining and agriculture town into a tourist town. He’s OK with the changes.

“You have to go with it,” he said. “You either go with it or get out. : I still enjoy myself.”

For Jarvis, that means skiing, snowboarding and mountain biking. Marsh, on the other hand, said he has hit the slopes only about nine times in 30 years.

“We didn’t move here for the winter. We moved here to get out of Chicago,” Marsh said. Steamboat “beats the South Side of Chicago and the 25 murders (a year) we left in 1978.”

Marsh and Jarvis said Steamboat was a great place to raise their children.

Marsh spent only six months as an equipment operator before the city “took a chance” and named him street/fleet superintendent. Marsh oversees a variety of the city’s maintenance and repair functions, including snowplowing.

“If I only had to deal with my driveway, it would be a piece of cake,” said Marsh, who hopes to retire someplace warmer within the next three years. “Winter’s got a little bit old, now that I’m older.”

Succession planning

Although the city celebrated longevity with its service awards, the number of people celebrating long anniversaries with the city speaks to a problem it inevitably must confront. As baby boomers continue to retire during the next two decades, employers across the country will struggle to replace them.

According to a January report published in Texas Town & City that cites national research, 46 percent of local government employees are 45 or older.

“If you look at our department heads, there’s probably at least half of them I would think who, within 10 years, will be reaching retirement age,” DuBord said. “So it’s incumbent on us to do some succession planning seeking qualified, young employees to run the organization in 10 years.”

The issue could be particularly challenging for cities such as Steamboat Springs that have a high cost of living.

Marsh said that in addition to bringing the most snowfall he’s seen in 30 years, last winter “was probably the most stressful because we were short-handed most of the winter.”

And at the wastewater treatment plant, Jarvis and a coworker were able to rattle off the names of several people who have worked for the city more than 20 years.

“It’s going to be trouble for them,” Jarvis said when asked what the city will do once the group starts to retire.

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Other honorees

In other city service awards, late city sports coordinator Kit Rice was given a “good guy” award for being “enthusiastic, humorous, friendly and fun” on the job. Rice died Sept. 28 at the age of 47. Bryan Ayer, Ron Berig, Lisa Rolan, Kim Weber and Vince O’Connor also received “good guy” awards for a variety of reasons. City spokeswoman Lauren Mooney described the award as one given for “going above and beyond your normal work duties.”

Sales tax clerk Christy Abney received a customer service award, and George Hine and Joel Rae were recognized for community involvement. Hine, the city’s arborist, was honored for exceptional communication and collaboration in dealing with the thousands of dead trees in the city resulting from the mountain pine beetle infestation. Rae, the city’s police captain, was honored for being a board member of Partners in Routt County, coaching football and being involved in many other local organizations.

Nine employees each were honored for five and 10 years of service. Five were honored for spending 15 years with the city, and three for spending 20.