Family, friends, and the City of Cedartown are all honoring an employee who is hanging up his hat after being on the job for decades.
Thirty years ago when Ralph Willbanks was in his twenties, he applied for a job at Cedartown’s Water Plant. It was a field of work that he didn’t really set out to enter into, but he was happy when he found out that he’d landed the job.
“I was young and just glad to be employed,” Willbanks said. “At that time, when you’re that age, you don’t really see yourself staying at one job for years and years. It just creeps up on you and one day it’s 10 years and then the next it’s 30 and you’re retiring,” he said with a chuckle.
Life is like that.
His 30-year career in water treatment morphed into time spent at the wastewater treatment plant as well, and eventually Ralph earned the “gold standard” of experience in his field by obtaining his Class I certification.
“To complete 30 years in any profession is an admirable feat but to do that in the utility field, and particularly in the operations of “critical infrastructure” is even more of an accomplishment,” City Manager Bill Fann said of Ralph’s career. “For most, achieving a Class I Certification in either Water or Wastewater Plant operations means a successful career, but through dogged determination Ralph was able to achieve that top level of professionalism in both fields.”
Most folks really don’t think about the process it takes to get clean water flowing to your tap, or what happens to the dirty water you produce on a daily basis. But for three decades, that’s what Ralph was paid to do. “People really don’t realize the process that goes into making sure you’re providing residents with the cleanest drinking water possible, and then the flip side of that as well. All of the wastewater that comes through this plant, comes in dirty as you expect, but then it’s treated and released as clean water. It’s a complicated process that is very technical and science-driven.”
It’s apparent that after 30 years, Ralph enjoyed his profession. But what’s kept him there for so long? “It’s the people I work for, the people I work with. They’ve been great. I’ve enjoyed my routine here.”
After today, his routine might be filled with a little more fishing and relaxing and time spent with family. “I am looking forward to that free time for sure,” he said.
“We congratulate Ralph on a successful, productive career with the City of Cedartown and wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement,” Fann said.