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History of Derry Sewage
History of Derry Sewage
Posted Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Longtime DBMA foreman Tom Shomo retires
BY NICK CAMMUSO
Bulletin Staff Writer
Derry Borough Municipal Authority worker Tom Shomo is heading into retirement after completing his last day of work on Thursday, Aug. 10. The biggest adjustment for Tom Shomo in retirement, at least initially, might be not having to set the alarm clock.
"It's going to be hard to get up and not go to work every day," said Shomo, a longtime Derry Borough Municipal Authority (DBMA) foreman. "I had to be there at 7:30, so I'd get up at quarter after six every morning."
Shomo, an authority employee for the past 39 years, retired this week. Thursday was his last day on the job.
"It's kind of a mixed feeling," he said of final day of work, which was followed by a get-together with authority employees at an area restaurant.
Shomo began his career with Gibson-Thomas Engineering Co. Inc. and worked there for six years before joining the authority's crew. He's served as the DBMA foreman since 1987.
He was one of the authority's five water treatment plant employees, with another worker handling sewage plant responsibilities.
"You actually got to do a variety of things," Shomo said of his daily duties over the years. "Sometimes you read meters, sometimes you fixed water leaks, sometimes you (connected) fire hydrants. It was a varied job ... mainly my job was to coordinate and oversee the repairs."
The advent of technology, he said, has made the job easier in some respects. The digging needed to replace/repair water lines and make other fixes is now done by backhoes, trucks and other equipment. Decades ago, digging was done by hand, he said. "And the equipment that you use to repair parts, those have changed - they're a little more sturdier than they used to be," he said.
Shomo actually got his start at the DBMA even earlier, working in summers in the late 1960s and early 1970s for his father, Edward E. Shomo, who served as authority manager for 36 years from 1965-2001. "Tom decided to help his dad on a temporary basis, because he was so loyal to the authority," Forsha said of Shomo, who became a fulltime. That knowledge was on display every day, Forsha said, but especially several years ago when the authority was implementing a GIS mapping system. "He had the entire water map memorized in his head," she said. "It was interesting to see where we (eventually) mapped ... (we drew lines) to see his accuracy and it was pretty accurate."
Last month, the authority board approved a resolution honoring Shomo and Donald Dell. A water treatment plant operator for 47 years, Dell will retire in October.
Authority manager Amy Forsha said the DBMA has hired replacements for both Dell and Shomo, and each has gone through a transition period since being on the job.
"The kids taking our places seem to be pretty good," Shomo said. "When I went to school, I didn't have computer classes. They're much more tech-savvy than us old-timers."
Being with the DBMA for so long, Shomo recognizes the importance of a local water/sewage authority that provides a personal touch and is quick to respond to customer issues. In recent years, Derry Borough Council has explored the possibility of selling the authority's water and sewer systems to an outside entity, but has yet to make a decision either way.
"That's a really bad idea," Shomo said of a possible sale. "You're giving up one of the best resources you have for your community.
"When I was working, I'd get called at two in the morning to shut somebody's water off that had a leak in their basement. There would be two feet of snow and you'd still have to go and shut it off ... everybody knows that you have to do that."
Added Forsha: "This is one of the few businesses left in the borough that (provides) employment for borough residents. You don't hear of many employees now who can work in the same place for 39 years. It's been a great career."
As for retirement plans, Shomo is going to take things slow. "I'm just going to try to play it by ear and see how it goes," he said. "I didn't really make any plans to do this or that. I've got to get used to not working, I guess."
Shomo lives in Derry Township with his wife, Terri. He has a daughter, Amy, a stepdaughter, Heather, and three grandchildren.
Posted Monday, August 14, 2017
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