Pelham mayor a public works employee one day each week

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters gets some time out of the office tending to the weeds around the graves at the Pelham Cemetery on August 6. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters gets some time out of the office tending to the weeds around the graves at the Pelham Cemetery on August 6. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

About 10 minutes before Pelham and Shelby County officials met at Pelham City Hall on July 30 to ink a deal on the old Moore Handley building, Mayor Gary Waters rushed into the building wearing a chartreuse T-shirt and Carhartt work pants.

“Sorry guys, today is work day,” Waters told the group gathered in the City Hall conference room. “I’ve been waist deep in water breaking up beaver dams all day.”

Other than inking the deal to bring the Summer Classics furniture company to the old Moore Handley building with a group of businessmen and economic development officials, July 30 was no different from any other Tuesday for Waters.

Since taking office in November 2012, Waters has traded his suit for a Pelham Public Works Department uniform one day a week and spent the day in the field.

“I just go to the (Public Works) dispatch office when I get to work and ask who is going out that day,” Waters said.

Over the past several months, Waters has performed jobs ranging from weedeating at the Pelham city cemetery to riding in the Public Works brush truck.

To date, his favorite job came when he helped clear log jams and beaver dams in the city’s creeks on July 30.

“That one was my favorite,” Waters said. “It was cool, we were in the shade and we were in water up to our waist. It was great.”

Waters’ willingness to work in the field is a continuation of a mantra he picked up while serving in the Army.

“One of the things I learned as a young infantry officer was that you should know all of your platoon’s names and their family’s names,” Waters said. “You should know what they do and how they do it.”

The same philosophy carried over into Waters’ position with the city.

“If I walk in and they don’t know me, they won’t tell me what they need,” Waters said. “If you take the time to get to know them, they feel comfortable offering their suggestions.

“Sometimes we forget how hard they work for their pay,” he said.