Eleven-year town employee Allen Atkins recently retired from his position as public works director, capping a long career in public service .
“Most of the people here have been great to work with and most of the council members too,” said 66-year-old Atkins. “They just try your patience from time to time.”
Milton has had its fair share of problems with its water and wastewater systems over the last decade, leaving Atkins with no shortage of work. When he joined the town staff in November 2001 the town still owned the wastewater treatment facility. Not much later, the town sold it to Tidewater.
“When I first came here that was my headache,” he said.
Over the last year, Atkins has been looking for missing water. It was discovered last spring that the town could not account for 11 million gallons of water each quarter. He said much of his final few months with Milton were spent testing the system for leaks, replacing water meters and finding other methods to get the town's system up to par.
After graduating with a degree in accounting from Goldey Beacom College in Wilmington, Atkins briefly worked in Milford before taking a job with DuPont. After five years, he moved on to the Soil Conservation District, where he worked as an accountant for 13 years. From there, he went on to become town clerk and eventually town manager in Georgetown. After a year, he accepted a job in the maintenance department in Laurel, where he remained for 16 years before coming to Milton.
“I kind of dabbled in it all,” he said.
Atkins was in the state's first water operator's license class held a Delaware Technical Community College and has held one of the lowest license numbers, 61, ever since. He is also the current president of the Delaware Rural Water Association, a group that assists small towns with water and wastewater issues. He said he'd like to continue to head the organization; he's unsure if his retirement will force him to step down.
The town has yet to find Atkins' replacement and, he said, he may continue to work with the town on a part-time basis until his successor is hired. In the meantime, he said, he plans relocate to Clayton to live with his wife.
“We've been married for five years, and we're finally getting together in one house. We've been playing musical houses,” he said. “My biggest job now is going to be unpacking all my stuff at her house and trying figure out where everything is.”