Community Voices - City of Oberlin, General Maintenance Division Employees

Posted by Enzo Cabili
Enzo Cabili
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on March 20, 2015 in Community Voices

Will BlackmonWill Blackmon Johnny MooreJohnny Moore


General Maintenance Department:
Will Blackman, Dave Spreng
(not pictured), Johnny Moore, Steve Suvar (not pictured)

The workers of Oberlin’s General Maintenance Department are at the heart of our community, making sure the town runs smoothly in rain, snow, and sunshine alike. I spoke with Will Blackman, Dave Spreng, Johnny Moore, and Steve Suvar about their work and lives in Oberlin.

Q: What words or images would you use to describe Oberlin?

Will: Nice place to live, nice environment, small town with small town atmosphere. More in depth about social rights, green living all that kind of stuff that other cities are just starting to worry about.

Dave: I think Oberlin is diversified… and state of the art really, we always try to stay cutting edge.

Steve: College town, not wanting to grow like other communities because we try to keep a lot of the industry out. Making sure things stay grassroots.

Johnny: Unique – the different makeup of individuals that come together in the community. It attracts different people from other locations, which allows residents to interact and get to know different types of people.


Q: Some people use the word “sustainability to mean actions that enhance/maintain the economic, environmental and social welfare of the Oberlin community.” What does sustainability mean in your life?

Johnny: Being able to use resources, and yet not to take away the opportunity for others to use those same resources. We don’t want to do something that damages the environment to a degree that no one else can come and use that resource after you. We should consume natural resources adequately so others can use them. Sharing and working together to conserve, as a community.

Dave: Sustainability to me overall… is saving the planet, and everybody has to have a part of that.

Will: Mak[ing] sure everything is in line. You want your life to be as suitable as it can be...You want to be able to do what you want to do without having to worry about anything interfering with it. You don’t want have to worry about something that would come and mess up your stability in terms of the environment. A community that provides security.

Q: What actions are you engaged in that relate to sustainability?

Will: Plowing snow, I mean everything with the maintenance, it’s not automatic. And it’s a lot harder than what people think. We’re public servants. We handle the grounds work, the streets, the sewers.

Steve: Totally. I mean, we work with wastewater, we chip brush, suck up leaves, plow snow, fix storm sewers, clean sanitary… We pretty much do everything in the town dealing with environmental aspects.

Q: Any advice for your fellow community members regarding care for the environment/sustainable living respect for nature?

Dave: Well, especially being a garbage man, and being able to see the landfill firsthand, and knowing what a landfill is, and how important it is to keep certain materials out of the landfill…. I try to educate people. And also for recycling I try to steer people to be sustainable, to be able to reuse, renew, and do all that … and to me personally, I’ve always done that but I think that people don’t understand the environmental aspects of what the world is going to be in 25 years if they don’t do their share. And people get in this rut… its kind of like people who don’t vote…They think.. well what can one voice make a difference? But it can! Because if you have a normal family in Oberlin or any other city… you’re going to have kids, they’re going to have kids, and you may see 4 or 5 generations before you die. And with all those kids it may end up being a lot of people if you can influence them to recycle, re-use, and renew. Think about it, it takes a few families to make a big difference. But there is still a lot of people in Oberlin that just recycle plastic, and they think that’s recycling. When they should be doing newspaper, glass… I think they need to be more educated, to the fact of exactly what all you can recycle, and why you should and why it’s a responsibility. You know that’s why we make it free, so it’ll enhance people to do that…. Some of them still don’t…

I’d like to help them understand in some way how easy it is to recycle, and make people know how important it is. I get more kids to do it than parents!… because I use to go speak at schools, take my truck down there, and explain to them what recycling is all about…sometimes you have to get to the kids to get to the parents, because the parents were born in an era, where they really don’t care. People...think recycling is hard, because you have to put a couple buckets in your kitchen or whatever…I put one big container, and then I take it out and sort it in my garage, and I mean it doesn’t take any longer. And you know you don’t put all that stuff into the landfill. If people would understand that bottles take 125 years to decompose, and you’ve got a lot of beer drinkers here, college kids man, party houses… And college kids, they’re good about it, even the off campus houses… very good recyclers. ...if you could get these general people, the normal residents to understand that glass takes that long to break down…people whine about how big landfills are, but they’re not doing anything to make them smaller.

Johnny: What I would like to see is for people to be more conscious of the way we use our resources, so that whatever things we to do,  it doesn’t create a negative impact for the ones that come after us.

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