Retiring Dalton to keep mechanic lifestyle

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

Dalton

JASPER — When Paul “Dave” Dalton joined the Jasper Street Department as a garbage truck driver in 1980, the local outfit was based in a tiny Clay Street building now used for storage. Dalton quickly worked his way into a mechanic position, and he remembered how the size of that structure regularly affected his work.

The building was so small that he had to service vehicles outside — in the cold, the heat and the rain.

But things change.

Now 66 years old, today is Dalton’s last day on the 35-member street department’s staff. He will soon join his wife, Donna, in retirement.

He has seen the department’s facilities expand during the past 39 years, and he’s seen the city of Jasper grow as well. Just one of two full-time street department mechanics, the hole he will leave will be felt.

“We’re gonna lose the knowledge that Dave has,” Jeff Theising, Jasper’s street commissioner, said Thursday. “[It’s] too bad we can’t put that on a hard drive.”

Cale Knies, Jasper’s director of personnel, safety and loss control, will remember Dalton for his hard work and spirit.

“In my seven years here, you always had a smile on your face,” Knies said during a certificate of appreciation presentation at a retirement party held in the department’s break room on Thursday. “No matter what the situation was. If it was 4 inches of snow, 8 inches of snow, or if it was two in the morning or 7 a.m., you always had that smile right there on your face.”

Dalton worked jobs as a truck driver and as a wrecker driver at Uebelhor Chevrolet prior to coming to the street department. After his father and fellow mechanic, Ervin, passed away, Dalton followed in his dad’s footsteps and took a job as a transmission man. Coming into constant contact with the fluid caused the younger Dalton’s hands to break out, however, and he left to work for the city.

The street department mechanic job was tough for him at first — servicing city vehicles at the mercy of the weather and running the now-closed Jasper landfill, in particular — but he could handle it.

In addition to tending to dump trucks, garbage trucks and snow plows, Dalton also worked on pieces of equipment like chainsaws, tractors and various instruments at the landfill.

His work often extended to other departments, too. He figured he’s probably worked with each one during his time as a city employee, whether that was tweaking police vehicles and firetrucks or working on other gadgets, like the Park and Recreation Department’s forklift.

He enjoyed knowing that no two days would ever be exactly the same.

“I like working,” he said. “It’s very interesting [work]. It’s not something you do ... the job changes from day to day, or week.”

More than anything, he’ll miss the people he’s worked with. But even though he’s leaving the street department, Dalton isn’t giving up his mechanic lifestyle entirely.

He collects tractors, and plans to work on those, and he also plans to complete renovations to a retirement home he and Donna will move into on 20 acres of land in nearby Bretzville. He has hauled rock for years in his personal dump truck, and he’ll continue doing that in retirement, too.

Dalton may be retiring, but his work is far from over.




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