Most people don’t put much thought into where their water goes after they use it unless the toilet doesn’t flush or the shower doesn’t drain. But rain or shine, workers like Robert Eaton are always on call, fixing problems most Salina residents will never see.
Eaton recently set a record for Salina Wastewater Collection, going two full years without missing a callout. Robert Eaton is this week’s BANK VI Hero of the Week.
Robert grew up in a small town in western Kansas. He attributes his work ethic to the time spent on his grandparents’ farm. “I was always at the farm and loved being out in the country… I guess it was just the work ethic that I was brought up with.”
Salina became home for Robert in 2000. He moved to the area, taking a job at an auto parts store. He worked a couple other jobs around town before meeting his wife, Loretta Reece. In 2005, Loretta convinced Robert to apply for a position as a utility worker for Wastewater Collection.
The Salina Wastewater Collection Division maintains almost 60 wastewater pump stations and is responsible for over 228 miles of sanitary sewer mains. When problems arise, the employees are put on a rotating call list. Employees can opt out of a call if they desire, “the expectation for the individuals subject to the call-out is a minimum of 20 percent on an annual basis…”
Eaton was recognized in a city newsletter for going 24 straight months without missing a call. “This accomplishment has not happened in the history of the division going back the last 25 years of keeping track,” the newsletter said.
Robert made light of the accomplishment, saying he was just doing the job he had signed up for. According to the newsletter, the call-back response average that year was 66 percent.
“Most of the time, people will never even notice there was an issue and we like to keep it that way,” Eaton said.
Robert said he plans on staying with the collection division for the foreseeable future.