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The Chillicothe Voice

Chillicothe’s Hometown Hero: 6 Unsung Heroes – Aqua Men | Teamwork

Apr 01, 2024 09:37AM ● By Gary Sharp

Dylan, Brandon, Andrew, Zack, Shawn, and Tim

In America, for the most part, citizen’s of all creeds, colors and ancestry, with a rational and spiritual conviction of justice and fairness to all, based on our Constitution and laws, should agree that each of us would pull together to power the engine of progress and normalcy. Some would call this collective exercise teamwork. Others would call the opposite a drag on society. Since the inception of our country we have successfully prevailed using this axiom. With this practice, work will get done and lives will benefit. With unearned entitlements failure will come. 

In our town we have a group of Public Servants, who each day provide us with life sustaining services and basic necessities known to promote good health and comfort for over 6,000 residents. Yearly, there are some 63 services and functions performed routinely and efficiently, for our citizens without much notice or recognition coming  to our Public Works Department, which provide clean, safe, cool and refreshing water for a multitude of uses with maintenance of wells, valves, pumps, purification testing, and repairs. They eliminate waste water when you are finished with it and maintain and repair all lines up to the Sanitary District, which is all most likely to be taken for granted. They plow miles of snow and sweep and maintain roads; they maintain detention ponds, alleys, parks, and trails. They replace fire hydrants, dig and fill in graves, repair and replace water mains, and clean and jet sewer lines, remove dead animals, maintain all city vehicles, hang flags and Christmas decorations, and set up materials for most all special city events for the public through Parks and Cemetery and Shade Makers. Add to this list over three dozen other jobs and provided services and you have a very special and talented company of public works employees taking care of business. They are relied on to do the expected and much of the unexpected occasionally on the spur of the moment. 

As of the date of this writing—February 7th— they field six full-time players of different ages, experience, and specialties. But teamwork is at the heart of each day’s duties and teamwork has grown into a tight cohesive unit, who work, teach, and learn together. One of the crew is Dylan Butler, age 45, with a year and a half on the streets. He gives all he’s got every day and is upbeat and thorough. He wants to tackle every challenge to get the job done and sets the best of examples. 

Another is 35-year-old Andrew Brown who has 16 months with Public Works. He checks pumps and lifts stations and does fluoride injections and chlorine gas. He likes to help the public and shares the load in all water-related procedures. 

Timothy Lee Banks is 59 years old and a new hire. He says the guys are cool and there are a million things to do. He plows snow and grades alleys with six months on the crew. 

30-year-old Brandon Berchtold has three and one-half years of service. He handles paperwork from city hall and does meter leaks and repairs. He has cemetery duties with location of burial sites and others. He loves the teamwork aspect in operations. 

38-year-old lead man Zack Isreal has over 10 years of seniority and is a natural in the operation of all motorized city equipment. He is very mechanically inclined and a good teacher who leads by example. 

And lastly Chillicothe Superintendent of Public Works Shawn Sutherland with seven years of service to our town and a total of 34 years experience from other job-related functions pertaining to public works over the years since he was 17 years old—with numerous years working for the Village of Sparland and the Lacon Illinois street department. He has a class C and class A Water License, natural mechanical abilities, and Administration credentials. 

So the next time you wash your car, do your laundry, cook a hot meal, take a shower, water your plants, flush away undesirables, and brush your teeth remember those dudes who work for you in all kinds of weather and temperatures. We truly appreciate our Police, Fire, and postal workers but we would all be remiss if we did not include public works employees for how they affect our lives. 

Some Heroes come from the most unlikely places, some heroes don’t care to be one, others don’t know they are, and some who try will never be but there have been and always will be Hometown Heroes in Chillicothe of different walks, occupations, and stature and now there are six more at the Public Works Department on Santa Fe avenue. Thank you Shawn, Zack, Brandon, Dylan, Tim, and Andrew for all your efforts in keeping our water supply the cleanest, most refreshing, and best tasting in central Illinois. We appreciate you.