The city of Shawnee will say goodbye to a long time employee Friday.
Jim Bierd, director of utilities, has been employed by the city since 1979.
Initially, when Bierd came to apply for a job with the city, he had planned to apply for the Street Department. However, while he was waiting, he met then-director Gene Collins, who asked if he wanted to work for him in the Water Department.
“I said I just needed a job,” Bierd said.
From there, Bierd said he has had nearly every job in the utilities department, including Maintenance 1, primary backhoe operator, line locator, and Deputy Director.
Bierd became director of utilities in June 2007.
He added that his extensive experience with the utilities department through various positions helped him understand the way the department runs. This was very beneficial to him as a director, Bierd said.
As a child, Bierd said he always wanted to be a mechanic. He loved taking things apart and putting them back together. When he was older, Bierd said he used to take cars apart and put them back together, even if nothing was wrong.
“The mechanical ability has been a valuable asset on this job, with something always breaking down and needing to be fixed,” he said.
During his career Bierd did many things, but says he is most proud of the water rate increase passed in 2008.
Through this “we could move the department forward and make some accomplishments and get out of the duct tape and bailing wire mentality,” Bierd said.
“We have accomplished a lot in the years since the rate increase, moving from reactive to proactive,” he added.
Bierd said his retirement was a tough decision, but he felt it was time. While he is excited for retirement, he said he will miss the employees.
“They are some of the hardest working and genuinely good people I’ve ever been around,” he said.