Dave Nichols knows the highs and lows in the Borough of Greencastle, from the tree limbs to the water and sewer systems and everything in between.
After 27 years at the helm of the public works department, Nichols will retire on Aug. 31.
The 1971 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School spent 20 years at Nitterhouse Concrete before he started as the borough's public works supervisor in February 1991. His title has evolved into public works manager.
"The job has grown as the town has grown," said Nichols.
He and his crew of three — Travis Atherton, Brian Maynard and Daniel Kendall — look after the borough's streets, the water distribution system and sewer collection system.
"I like Greencastle, the town, the people who call with questions. I like to find the answers they deserve," Nichols said. He said the calls can include issues such as downed tree limbs, dead animals, clogged sewer lines and ducks in drain pipes and cats in trees.
"The downside is they can occur anytime," said Nichols. He and his guys are on call 24/7.
"Snow removal is the most disliked job, but we take it seriously and I think we do a good job," said Nichols. "All the borough streets are plowed by four people. I'm the one who watches the forecasts and the skies. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't."
The 32-inch snow of 1996 was one they couldn't plow and didn't really have equipment to move. The local contractor Charles Brake had to be called in with a loader that would scoop snow off the street and load it into a dump truck to be hauled to the borough lot on Jefferson Street.
Although the public works department does the plowing, contractors are still brought in to remove snow from the metered areas down, which people who own businesses and work downtown really like.
"Every day is different," he continued. "Some days you're just putting fires out. You learn to deal with it."
Nichols has seen changes over the years, including the addition of computers the maintenance department in 2008 and the learning curve that came with them.
The volume of traffic is something else that's changed.
"Formerly, if we had a downtown job, we did Wednesday, a quiet day. Not anymore," Nichols said.
"But the people haven't changed. It's still a nice, quiet small town.
"I enjoy working with the water. We have a very good water distribution system and the authority has kept it upgraded," said Nichols.
His department used to spend a lot of time dealing with water leaks, but the upgrades have addressed those over the years.
"Now we're reaping the benefits," Nichols said. "We're not losing water so we have time to do other things."
Nichols said another project is the ongoing storm water management work that started on South Allison Street in the 1990s that has continued farther into town as money became available. The last few years the crew has been installing water main valves to make it more convenient with an impact on a smaller area if water has to be shut off.
The borough is currently advertising for Nichols' replacement and he is thinking about what he will do in retirement.
His wife, Tonya, is continuing to work at World Kitchen so he wants some sort of part-time work.
He'll also have more time to do projects at the homes of his children, Sara Nichols, who lives in Shippensburg and works at Beistle and David Nichols, who lives in Mechanicsburg and works in IT, and to spend with grandsons, Ben Nichols, 5, and Wes Nichols, 1.
Nichols also plans to do more woodworking and restoration of antiques and to continue his enthusiasm for model railroads.