Bill Daniels has done it all when it comes to his work for the City of Glen Rose.
Whether it's rounding up stray dogs, fixing city streets, mowing, laying water and sewer lines, inspecting property, enforcing codes or repairing equipment, Daniels has worked in every city department during his long career that began in 1985.
“We did just about anything that needed to be done in those days,” Daniels said. “I've done a little bit of it all.”
So when Daniels, who's 61, decided to retire last week after 26 years with the city, Glen Rose lost someone who knows the town from the inside out. No one else has worked so long for the city and retired from the job. Daniels was city inspector when he resigned.
But Daniels, who also has worked as a preacher for decades, gained something also very valuable to him — the time to pursue his calling of traveling with his wife of 40 years, Jan, to evangelize full time.
Daniels recalled his years with the city last Wednesday on his first day of “retirement.” The day before the city staff and council members stopped by for Daniels' retirement party or sent their best wishes. Since he loved peanut butter, the staff presented Daniels with a gift basket filled with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers, crackers filled with peanut butter and all sorts of other peanut butter treats. The party also featured a big chocolate cake from the Barnard Street Bakery and pizza.
“Have some,” Daniels said, offering a visitor some candy. “I just lost 32 pounds on this diet I've been on.”
“There's 50 pounds in that basket,” Jan added with a laugh.
Daniels' daily routine on the city job had been to rise at 5:30 a.m., listen to the news and arrive at Town Hall five or 10 minutes early before “the girls” — as Daniels called City Secretary Peggy Busch and clerks Darla and Rosie — arrived.
“Today I didn't get up that early,” Daniels said on his first day of retirement. “It's going to be a real switch.”
Daniels began his city career as a part-time animal control employee under former city superintendent Horace Strickland. About a year later he was put on full-time at the wastewater treatment plant and received a Class C Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator's license. Over the years, he earned lots of other licenses and certificates, such as in animal control and code enforcement.
Daniels, of course, has some memorable stories from his job. One of them goes back to the time the city bought a new tractor with a brush hog. Daniels got to drive it for the first time to mow around a bit vat that held street emulsion.
“I was thrilled to be the first one to get to use it,” Daniels said of the new tractor. He liked to get as close as he could to something when he was mowing so he didn't have to use an edger.
“I'm mowing around that thing, trying to be as close around that edge as possible,” Daniels recalled. “One of the front wheels had caught the leg and the tractor started climbing up.
“I bailed off,” he continued. The tractor continued climbing and then got so high that it came back down, still in gear.”
Daniels ran it down and took it out of gear and stopped it.
“My heart was going 1,000 miles an hour,” he said. “It scared the living daylights out of me.”
One of Daniels' co-workers liked to give him a hard time about being a preacher. One day they were working on a pump and trying to get the vacuum and weights inside working just right. They spent three days trying to get the pump to work. It was hot, dirty work and everyone was getting frustrated.
“Daniels, what you ought to do is go in and lay hands on it and get that pump to run,” his co-worker suggested sarcastically.
Daniels played along. He walked up to the pump, put his hands on it and said, “In Jesus' name, pump, run.”
His colleague's eyes got real big.
“Anything else?” Daniels asked.
Needless to say, the co-worker didn't taunt him again.
The pump "just kicked right off and ran like a top,” Daniels recalled, laughing.
Aside from the fond memories, Daniels almost lost his arm while on the job. Glen Rose used to have its own garbage collection and Daniels sometimes would ride the garbage trucks. A new company had moved to town and had a bank of dumpsters. It wasn't supposed to be putting two-by-fours or other pieces of wood in the dumpsters because it created a hazard for garbage workers.
But since it was a new business in town, the city went ahead and picked up the construction trash. When some of it got stuck, Daniels reached in to push it down and his arm got caught.
"I thought my arm was gone," Daniels said.
It wasn't gone, but it was pulled out of its socket. Fortunately, a bone specialist set his arm and Daniels said he got almost all of his arm mobility back.
Other than that incident, Daniels was rarely sick. When he retired, he had more than 500 hours of sick leave he hadn't taken.
Although Daniels said he will miss the people he worked with a great deal, he's looking forward to devoting his life to the ministry.
"We've all been like one big family" at Town Hall, Daniels said. "It wasn't always smooth sailing, but it's been a good employment."
But the church came first and the ministry has been a lifetime calling. Daniels pastored Vine Life Tabernacle in Glen Rose for more than 20 years and previously had pastored in Graham.
Since leaving Vine Life, Bill and Jan have been in 11 states in the last three years and nearly 100 churches, they estimated.
"The Lord has really blessed us," Daniels said.
He enters a new chapter in a city that has changed for the better, he added.
"Back when I started with Horace Strickland, they were just bringing ordinances to this little town," Daniels recalled.
Some residents didn't like all the new rules.
"Older folks, especially, didn't like everything, but it improved our town," Daniels said. "It brought Glen Rose out of the Dark Ages.
"I think our city is in better shape than it's ever been," Daniels added. "As far as employees, we've probably got the best group we've ever had that's trying to improve it and do this job. Our city has improved tremendously."