OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon
John Buxton, far left, will retire from his position as Director of Public Works for the village of Mayville effective Dec. 30. Others pictured include Chief Water Operator Dan Engdahl, Treasurer Jennifer Obert and Clerk John Crandall.
MAYVILLE – Come January when a large snowstorm is hitting in the middle of the night, John Buxton won’t have to worry about getting up to make sure the roads are cleared. That’s because the village Department of Public Works director will be enjoying retirement.
During the Mayville Village Board meeting, officials accepted “with regret” a letter from Buxton for retirement. It takes effect Dec. 30.
Buxton has been employed by the village for 37 years. He began working part time in the village’s recycling department. He was actually the first employee for that job.
By 1990, he was a full-time employee. In 1997 he was appointed the director of the Department of Public Works. During his time as director he served under Mayors David Crandall, Marty Bova, Ken Shearer and Rick Syper. He had no complaints about any of the officials. “We always sit down and talk things over. I tell them ‘we’ve got to do this much work and we need this much money,’” he said.
During Buxton’s tenure the village constructed the Carlson Center at Lakeside Park, a new DPW shop, a new electric substation, and the water treatment facility. “We got a lot of stuff done,” he said.
And while Mayville generally has the highest snow total in the county, Buxton said summers are actually busier. “There’s more to do – mowing, burying people, parks and recreation, keeping this place (Carlson Center) up, the highways, drainage, sidewalks, building, replacing, repairing,” he said.
Winters do create problems of their own, though. “When it’s storming, we go out … 24/7,” he said.
The worst problem during his tenure was the water crisis in December 2020. In the middle of the pandemic, the county Health Department issued a “do not drink” order for village water, due to perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) discovered in three of the village’s water wells.
The village had to provide bottled water for all residents while simultaneously getting another well up and running, which took around three weeks.
When the time came in the meeting for the village board to acknowledge Buxton’s retirement letter, the room burst out in applause.
After the meeting, Mayor Rick Syper had nothing but praise for Buxton. “We’ll miss his knowledge that he brings to the village board and to the village community. He’s really served the community well and he will be really missed,” he said.
Syper said Dan Engdahl, the village’s chief water operator, will take over the role of DPW director after Buxton’s retirement. He is confident Engdahl will do the job well, but said they will miss Buxton.