City employee retires after 40 years in public works

Streets Department Lead Worker Bill Wear is retiring after 40 years with Danville Public Works.

DANVILLE – When the snow starts flying in the next few months, it will be the first winter in 40 years where Danville Streets Department Lead Worker Bill Wear won’t be getting ready to salt the roads and plow.

Wear’s last day on the job was Monday. He officially retires in October when his vacation time is used up.

Wear, 58, spent the weekend cooking up some dishes to have a luncheon with co-workers for his last day.

He worked for the city for 40 years, starting in July 1979 as streets laborer.

“I like my job,” he said.

Although Wear said he looks forward to now just watching it snow. He can play catch up in having time to build snowmen and go sledding with his granddaughters.

He said working all hours plowing snow all these winters, he’d get home and would want to sleep after being so tired.

“I missed out on a lot of stuff,” he said.

Wear said they would call it “bop till you drop” about all the hours snow plowing. But Wear said he loved his job and his time with the city.

“I have a lot of fond memories. It’s a family,” he said about his city co-workers.

Wear started working for the city at age 17 when his soon-to-be father-in-law told him about an open position.

Wear had been working for a printing company in Champaign, but didn’t like staying in an office building. He was more interested in working with equipment and working outside.

He said he learned about a lot of stuff starting out.

Working in the streets department, some of his work included patching pot holes, grading alleys, cutting trees and plowing snow.

Wear has been lead worker for the City of Danville’s Streets Department for about 15 years.

He said the job is now more construction-oriented, such as repairing curbs and sidewalks. Wear came up with snow plow routes and worked on brick street paver restoration ideas.

Wear has seen a lot of changes during the last four decades. He started at the public works building on South Street before moving to the Voorhees Street building. Public Works administration also was initially in the old city hall on Hazel Street.

He started working under Mayor David S. Palmer. Wear has seen various public works administration changes and has worked with three unions.

There were 22 streets department employees at one time. There are now about eight, he said.

“Technology has helped to a point,” he said.

Equipment and technology have been other changes Wear has seen.

He remembers the first movable plow. Vehicles and equipment were all stick shift and plows were all hydraulic.

Wear said they used to have two people on a plow truck for the plow and salt spreader.

He said they also had to build their own brooms for street sweeping.

He said he’s more appreciative of the equipment the city now has.

Wear has been through multiple snow storms, floods, and straight-line wind and other storms. He’s had seven days straight of storm pickups.

“I’ve never been unemployed,” he said, about having to adjust to retirement.

He will continue serving as trustee on the Tilton Village Board and also envisions finding a part-time job.

He said with him leaving his City of Danville position, another younger person can have an opportunity to have a career with the city.

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