Employee Spotlight: Jerry Hudson
Hood River Public Works crews stay industrious year-round with seasonal tasks, but in winter, their work is a critical part of keeping the city functional for residents, businesses and visitors. When a day is eventful, hectic or tiring, a positive disposition goes a long way, and that is what Jerry Hudson brings to his job on a daily basis.
Hudson is one of a dozen team members sharing responsibility for Hood River’s streets, water, stormwater and sewer systems — the general “workings” of the City. Hudson, his crew partner Manny, and James are floaters in the department, while other crew members are assigned to specific sub-areas.
Nonetheless as a small department, each staff member is cross-trained for all tasks and equipment. Floaters help the busy crew where most needed. “Because we have to know everything, we can work like a family and are always willing to help each other,” Jerry relays.
Hudson’s supervisor, Operations Manager Andy Jackson, shares that Jerry has a “great go-getter” attitude, which makes Hudson laugh. His only explanation is he loves his job, loves to come to work, and loves the guys he works with. “I’ve always been happy and full of energy,” he adds. “I get up at 4 a.m. without an alarm and am just waiting to go to work. It’s just a great bunch of guys here.” Normal weekday hours can fluctuate when graveyard shifts are required for downtown or heights district street sweeping, or during round-the-clock snow emergencies, when 12-hour shifts are staffed from midnight – noon and noon – midnight.
When storms are severe, it also means removing snow from congested commercial areas, in which case dump trucks and operators are also required. What seems like endless street sweeping follows in spring for sand collection, while summer is time for planned projects like “pot-holing,” chip sealing, ensuring street signs are visible and power lines unencumbered. Leaf pick-up is a fall preoccupation, not only for appearance but to keep storm drains and lines flowing—a top priority in all seasons.
“There’s a lot of water in this valley, and it keeps us busy,” Hudson declares. “Keeping stormwater grates clear, underground creeks covered and everything draining can be…well, draining.”
For daytime snow removal, each team has a plow and sand route. “My advice to people in town is to be patient – we try to get to everything as soon as possible,” explains Jerry. “We follow the snow plow priority map.”
Tending to emergencies is another big part of the job—most recently a water main leak and a fire hydrant toppled by a truck. Each crew member takes round-the-clock call for a week, four times per year on a rotating basis in addition to full-time hours.
When asked about his least favorite part of the job, he says (unsurprisingly) the sewer department. “Not to lie, it’s just gross,” he says smiling. “But at least the City provides personal protective gear which makes it easier,” Jerry proclaims.
Jerry, known more affectionately as “Jer,” just passed his third-year anniversary working with City Public Works, and prior to that spent 15 years in construction with Crestline. “I’m proud to wear my city shirt and hat, I’m proud of keeping our streets and city clean for residents, visitors and businesses. I’m proud of working hard for what we do,” Hudson sums up.
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