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Longtime street department employees to retire

Oregon Street Superintendent Mike Bowers welcomes newly hired Terry Plemmons Jr., who will take over Bowers' post when he retires Nov. 2. Photo by Vinde Wells
Oregon Street Superintendent Mike Bowers welcomes newly hired Terry Plemmons Jr., who will take over Bowers' post when he retires Nov. 2. Photo by Vinde Wells

Two longtime Oregon Street Department employees will end their careers early next month, while another has just started his.

Street superintendent Mike Bower and employee Ray Hawn are retiring Nov. 2 with more than 60 years of experience between them.

Terry Plemmons Jr. will take over for Bowers and began learning the ropes on Oct. 9.

An open house for Bowers and Hawn will be held on Thursday, Nov. 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Oregon City Hall.

Although he has enjoyed his job, Bowers said his retirement will give him more time to spend with his family.

“I’m looking forward to making plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas — and just be able to feel like I’m not on call 24/7,” he said.

Bowers said he has seen may changes in the more than 35 years he has served the city.

“When I started, office materials were pens, pads, and pencils that salesmen left,” he said with a chuckle. “Now we have computers and two file cabinets full of records. We’ve gone from the horse and buggy to the space shuttle.”

Bowers remembered that early in his career each spring street department employees drove around the city to see which streets were the worst and those got fixed.

When the late Jim Lauer was Street Commissioner, he implemented a five-year rotation for maintaining the streets.

“The majority of our time then was spent patching potholes,” Bowers said. “That has been eliminated with the regular maintenance.”

ADA requirements and increasing regulations have also changed how the street department operates.

“Sometimes we spend more time on paperwork than on the actual work,” he said.

Bowers said he has enjoyed a good working relationship with city officials.

“I always felt like I had great support from all the [city] councils I worked for,” he said. “We had some robust discussions from time to time but we were always able to solve it without hard feelings.”

Bowers is spending the last couple of weeks on the job working with Plemmons and plans to be available after he’s retired.

“I want to help with the transition,” he said. “People welcomed me and gave me a chance to grow in the department. I hope to do the same for Terry.”

Plemmons, 30, said his first few days on the job have been rewarding.

“I’m excited and eager to take on the role. I hope that with the background I have in maintenance, repairs, and supervisory that it will be a smooth transition,” he said.

An Oregon native, Plemmons started working at Maplehurst Farms right after high school, first in operations and then in the Millwright Department, which he has managed for the last several years.

He said he had planned to attend college to be a math teacher, but quickly discovered he like fixing equipment at Maplehurst and getting it running.

“When I saw a position open at the street department, I knew it was something I’d be interested in,” Plemmons said.

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