LOCAL FOLKS: Jackson keeps the water on, spirits high

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

SALTILLO – As Saltillo’s water operator, Mike Jackson makes sure everyone in the city has running water, but his title doesn’t begin to cover everything he does.
“We clock in every morning and I would say that’s the only thing we do the same every day,” Jackson said. “We may have plans for the day but that’s if there isn’t an emergency like a water leak or a road washed out or a tree laying in the road or a sewer problem or something like that hitting as soon as we get there.”
One winter, after clocking in, Jackson said Public Works Director Richard Feist told them a water line broke.
“It was 20 degrees outside and when we got to the subdivision you could see the water cascading down the hill but we couldn’t climb the hill because it was a solid sheet of ice,” Jackson said. “It was a fire hydrant we had to shut off and then we had to help carry people up and down the hill because it was slicked over with ice.”
Jackson, 52, grew up in the Saltillo area and worked as a masonry contractor for more than 20 years, laying the brick for many of the city’s homes.
“I came to work (in Public Works) in 2005 and had no idea what I was getting into,” Jackson said. “I was hunting something that was easier on my body but I didn’t know coming here would be harder on my mind.”
Due to personnel changes, Jackson moved up through the department, getting more responsibility than he was ready for.
He took a short break but returned to the Saltillo Public Works Department.
“It worked out good because I didn’t have the responsibility on me and had more freedom,” he said. “I got moved up too quickly the first time but since then I’ve enjoyed my job and the guys that work here.”
Feist said Jackson keeps the department lively.
“He has a very comical way of looking at things and helps keep the department fun,” he said.
What Jackson likes about the department is the honesty of each employee.
“Around here we tell each other what we think and don’t hide feelings,” he said. “One of the guys might come to me, ‘Mike, you screwed that up.’ OK, let’s go fix it.”
A crew was installing a water line last week and one of the guys thought he saw a leak. After digging the line up they realized it was just ground water.
“One of the other crew members said, ‘I think there’s some mud over there, do you want to go dig that up too?’ ”
Jackson said one thing he loves about his job is the diversity in his tasks.
“I told one of the new guys, ‘One thing about this job is you will have a new story to go home and tell your wife every day,’ ” he said. “A lot of people go to work and have to do the same thing for eight hours and then go home.”
jb.clark@journalinc.com