BADGER - Dave London starts his workdays early by driving around Badger, looking for things that need to be fixed.
Later in the day, the city maintenance employee will be mowing grass or installing some of the new water meters.
And if there's an emergency in the community, London will respond as a member of the all-volunteer Badger Fire Department.
Dave London, the Badger maintenance employee, displays one of the street signs he keeps at the city shop. He maintains a small number of signs there so that he he can quickly replace any that are damaged.
Dave London, the Badger maintenance employee, checks over his riding mower at the city shop recently. Mowing the grass on all public property is one of his major tasks during the spring, summer and fall months.
He is on-call to serve his community 24-hours a day in both his paid, professional role as city maintenance employee and his unpaid but no less professional role as a volunteer firefighter.
He started in the maintenance job about two and a half years ago.
''It gives me an opportunity to work in the community I live in and have a hand in how the community looks,'' he said.
During the spring, summer and fall months, mowing grass is a continuous chore for him. He spends hours astride a riding mower, cutting the grass in the parks, around the signs that welcome people to Badger and on any other city-owned property. He said that when there is plenty of rain and the grass is growing quickly, it takes three and a half days to mow all the public property.
The streets and alleys are also his responsibility. He fixes the smaller potholes in the streets with a cold asphalt mix. Bigger repairs require the services of a paving contractor. He also fills ruts in the alleys and keeps them usable for traffic.
This summer, London has also been installing new water meters. The meters use radio signals to transmit information on water usage so that no one has to actually read the meter. The city purchased 230 of them. London said in most instances it takes about 20 minutes to remove an old meter and put a new one in.
Sometimes, he has to repair playground equipment or replace damaged street signs.
When winter arrives, London spends many of his working hours plowing snow.
He vividly recalls his first attempt at snow removal. He said he went off the road and got the snowplow stuck within 300 feet of leaving the city's maintenance shop.
''That was not a good day,'' he said. ''I learned real quick about what not to do when you plow snow.''
At the beginning of every workday, London checks in the city office to see if City Clerk Nadine Odor has any work orders for him. Then he drives around town, looking for problems to fix. During those early morning rounds, he'll also empty the trash barrels in the park.
Meeting his fellow Badger residents is one of the most rewarding parts of the job, according to London.
''I do what I can to make sure the residents are served well in Badger,'' he said. ''I know I can't make everybody happy all the time. But we have a great community very supportive of our city operations.''
Every once in a while, London experiences something like slapstick humor on the job. He recalled that one time he was helping Gail Wetzel, the city's water and wastewater superintendent, replace a valve at the water treatment plant. The valve popped open, and both men were drenched by a geyser of water.
''It wasn't real funny then, but looking back on it now it was pretty hilarious,'' he said.
London has been a volunteer firefighter longer than he's been the maintenance employee. He started as an emergency medical technician and firefighter with the Montgomery County Rescue Squad in his native Clarksville, Tenn. He served there for five years, and has been a volunteer firefighter in Badger for seven years.
He said he likes ''the feeling of brotherhood and also the satisfaction you get when you're able to save someone's house or rescue someone from a situation.''
He has a Firefighter I certification and additional training in vehicle rescue and hazardous materials emergencies. Driving the fire trucks and operating the pumps at a fire scene are his primary jobs.