City Employee Spotlight for November - PARD Maintenance Crew
“Teamwork requires some sacrifice up front; people who work as a team have to put the collective needs of the group ahead of their individual interests.” Patrick Lencioni
Working together as a team is what makes the PARD maintenance crew so special. “There is never a dull moment around here that’s for sure,” says PARD director Janis Burns. Their shop appears more like a Santa’s workshop than a maintenance shop this time of the year with giant candy canes as far as the eye can see. They will be a featured on the city square this year. “I show them an idea I’ve found on Pinterest or somewhere and they make it happen, “says Burns. “They are so talented, they never cease to amaze me. They have made all the games for our Fall Festival for the past nine years. They add a couple of new ones each year. We are up to about 20 different ones this year. Between 1,100 and 1,200 people attended the festival this year.”
The maintenance crew is usually an eleven-man team, however, they are down to eight guys right now due to recent retirements. Frankie Fortenberry, the current Foreman, he has been with the city for 23 years; the first 15 of those was with the utilities department, and the 8 with the PARD maintenance crew (6 of those as the foreman). When asked about his job working with JPARD and the maintenance crew Fortenberry said, "It's a challenge… but it's a good challenge doing what we do. I enjoy being out and working in different areas of the city. Seeing the kids enjoy what we've done for them is the bright spot to the job." “Frankie is just awesome! He jumps right in there with his crew on whatever is needed,” says supervisor Burns. Other members include: Wesley Fortenberry, Vincent Bailey, Sam Bragg, Bryan Glass, Kaleb Lewis, Tim Steed and Duane Hardy.
Not only does the maintenance department ensure our city is decorated for events, they are responsible for the grounds upkeep for 130.10 acres in 20 different locations including parks and ball fields to the city cemetery. It takes three or four of them several days to maintain the cemetery due to the extensive weed-eating work needed. The crew start their day early at 6 o’clock in the morning. Some work five, eight-hour days and some four, ten-hour days. That keeps a skeleton crew until 4:30 in the afternoon in case something comes up. They are also on call on the weekends for special events. The guys work outside in extreme heat and cold. "Our maintenance crew always goes above and beyond in all that they do. They work extremely hard with ‘regularly scheduled’ items but then they have all the ‘extras’ that I ask. They make all of the games that are seen at JAXFest and the Flashlight Candy Hunt. Plus they are responsible for making and setting out all the beautiful decorations that are on the City Square at Christmas time. I ask a lot and they always deliver. I couldn't ask for a better group of workers," says Burns.
The city of Jacksonville is lucky to have such a dedicated crew that is committed to making our city a better place to live. Thanks guys, for all your hard work. Teamwork really does make the dream work.
Story and Photos by: Anita Kilgore