Ober completes 38 years of public service



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Public Works Director Mark Ober retires on Friday, Oct. 28, after 38 years of service to the Town of Ashland. Congratulations and best wishes! (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
October 26, 2011
ASHLAND—There hasn't yet been even a hint of snow in the air (at least at this writing!), but Ashland Public Works Director Mark Ober has been getting his fair share of pats on the back and expressions of appreciation lately, anyway.

That is because on Friday of this week, he'll be turning in his plow – good timing, perhaps—and officially ending his career working for the Town of Ashland after some 38 years of continuous service. Foreman Tim Paquette will step in to replace him for the "road ahead."

Ober says he won't miss it.

"I feel excited, like I am going on vacation. I've liked working for the Town all these years, but it is time to move on," said Ober.

Ober first started working for the Town of Ashland in 1973, and was appointed Road Agent in 1978. He also runs the Transfer Station, and has seen it through the closing of the local landfill in the1990's, and into to the current era of emphasis on the importance of recycling. Recently, the Public Works Department has taken over landscape and maintenance responsibilities for the ballfield, Memorial Park, the Fire Station and the Town Beach in an effort to consolidate resources and save money. But Ober says his team was always available to help out around town in any way they were needed.

"We'd help out Parks and Recreation, and Water and Sewer if we were needed. Everybody works together to get the job done," he said.

The genial, usually soft-spoken Ober has never been someone to toot his own horn. He's a low-key kind of guy, who often keeps his own counsel.

"I don't really get too excited over stuff," said Ober, reflecting on his career. "I usually don't have a lot to say, but every once in a while, I let people know what I think. In this job, you need to have broad shoulders, you learn to let things roll off you as you go along. If people complain that I am not plowing their roads when they want, I don't let it get to me. I have a route, and I stick to it. I like to treat everybody the same, and give everyone the same service. I go as fast as I safely can without damaging Town equipment."

He has been a consistent presence in Ashland, always available to answer questions or offer help. Over the last 38 years of service to the Town of Ashland, he has acquired a reputation for being a "straight-shooter," sometimes blunt and to the point, but generally a good example of the solid, steady, hardworking New England native.

Born and raised in Ashland, he went to school here, and devoted his entire career to the Town after a short stint as a dairy farmer. He says his "retirement" will be filled with chores like tending to his cattle and pigs on the family farm on Owl Brook Road that his father first purchased in 1928.

"I get up every morning at 4 a.m.," said Ober. "I don't expect that to change. But I will like being home, and I will like being my own boss. I think I've plowed enough snow."

He also anticipates being able to spend time with his grandchildren.

Ober says that his time working for the Town will be filled with good memories.

"I made a lot of friends over the years," said Ober. "In 38 years, 26 people came through the Department during my tenure—some good, some not so good — but I met a lot of good people."

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