Randy Barr on Monday jokingly stood on a chair to be more equal in height with Hillsboro’s 6’6 mayor, but to his co-workers, friends and family, the longtime city employee has always stood tall on his own.
Barr was honored at a retirement party Monday at the meeting room of the new fire station. Hillsboro’s water/sewer and streets manager has worked for the city since 1990, starting in the water and sewer department he would later manage. In June 2014, streets were added under his supervision.
Presenting him with a plaque, Mayor Drew Hastings said the occasion was a happy one for Barr, but sad for the city. Hastings said that among all of Barr’s attributes, the one that stands out most is his “commitment to excellence.”
Todd Wilkin, the city’s safety and service director, said Barr has been “the glue keeping projects going in the right direction.” He said Barr has been a steady hand through “a lot of changes,” and “leaves a huge void in the city.” He said Barr’s experience and years of knowledge cannot be replaced.
“He’s always had a positive attitude, too,” said Wilkin.
Wilkin said applications have been received for Barr’s position, but the city has not yet begun interviews.
Betty Bishop, who stopped by Monday to wish him well, was mayor and Kelly Shelton was safety and service director when Barr was hired. He worked for four administrations – Bishop, Sandy Harsha, Dick Zink and Hastings. Several colleagues from previous administrations stopped by to congratulate Barr.
Barr said one of his most memorable challenges was a few years ago when a water main burst under the old bridge on North High Street, near where the new pedestrian bridge now stands. He said the line was 10-inch cast iron pipe, and it took two days to cut through the pipe and make the repairs, with traffic re-routed during the work.
He said another memorable moment was when new sewer cleaning equipment was used to blow out a sewer line. He said residents had received notices on their doors to close their toilet lid and place a towel over it, but not everyone got the message. One resident called later to complain that the force of the air pressure had caused her toilet to spray her entire bathroom, ceilings and all.
Barr received several gifts, among them one from the mayor – a huge stack of boxes of Cheez-It crackers, a favorite snack. Hastings joked that Barr would be required to show up once a week at the city building to claim the next box. A cake was also decorated with the Cheez-It theme.
Among other gifts from co-workers was a membership to White Oak Golf Course near Sardinia, helping him fulfill his commitment to taking up golf.
“Now I just need the clubs,” said Barr.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.