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Sandy Shields retires, reflects on years with DPW

Recorder/Paul Franz
Outgoing Director of Public Works Sandy Shields is flanked on her last day on the job by Field Superintendent Marlo Warner, left, and incoming Director Art Baker in the DPW offices in the Town Hall on Friday.

Recorder/Paul Franz Outgoing Director of Public Works Sandy Shields is flanked on her last day on the job by Field Superintendent Marlo Warner, left, and incoming Director Art Baker in the DPW offices in the Town Hall on Friday.

GREENFIELD — Sandra Shields said she is going to miss people the most as the town bid her farewell on Friday.

Shields retired Thursday after almost four decades of service, first working in the town’s treatment plant, and for the past six years working as its public works director.

She returned on Friday to cake, a large card signed by “everyone,” and lots of hugs.

“It was weird driving here to Greenfield,” said Shields. “It would have been 39 years in July. I was a young woman, just out of college, when I started in 1974.”

Shields began as a chemist in water treatment, and was running that plant shortly after.

As time went on, the town added more responsibilities and she was running water and waste water treatment.

In 2007, former Mayor Christine Forgey hired her as director of public works.

“I’ve been here long enough,” said Shields. “It’s time for new ideas and new perspectives, and I think the town will get that with Art (Baker). I’ve been working with him for a couple of weeks to bring him to speed. He’s got the qualifications and the personality.”

Shields said the town should expect to experience changes and challenges in public works over the next few years. She said she believes her successor is up for the challenges.

“The biggest will be changes in federal requirements for waste water treatment plants,” said Shields, who said she doesn’t have details, but believes they will probably be expensive.

“He’ll have to find ways to make the changes economically,” she said.

Shields said there are also problems on the Wisdom Way hill that will have to be resolved.

The hill is the area where in March 2011 a mudslide from the Green River Cemetery above hit homes, filled yards, and buried cars on Meridian Street.

“Keeping up with technology will be another challenge, but the town has done really well with that so far,” she said.

Shields said she would have liked to have seen other projects through to fruition, but will have to “let that go.”

“Restoring the covered bridge at the pumping station should happen this year,” she said. “The plans are with the state DOT right now. Once approved, the project can go out to bid.”

Shields said the only thing she won’t miss is snow.

“For those of us in public works, it doesn’t end when the snowstorm ends,” she said. “For us, it goes on for days and days.”

She said the only two plans she has for the next few months are to get things done around the house and get married in August.

“Other than that, I’m just going to relax,” she said.

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