BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — When Joe Camp first began working for the city of Maumee in 1988, there were two computers on hand. He used one of them and former Finance Director Dave Hazard used the other.
At the time, Camp was a junior at Bowling Green State University studying construction engineering and he didn’t realize that the internship he had landed with the city would lead to a 31-year career and the role as city service director. On January 31, he will retire from Maumee.
“It really has been a great career. I have learned so much, I have met so many great people,” he said.
After graduating from BGSU in 1991, Camp was immediately recruited to fill the newly created position of engineering technician. With Arrowhead Park experiencing significant growth, the launch of a new citywide recycling program and construction of the city administration building, work was booming in the service department. Within two years, Camp was promoted to staff engineer and then later he was named commissioner.
“There was a boatload of work going on at that time,” he said.
Throughout his career, he worked under former service directors Joe Corey, Kent Gardner and Larry Gamble, and he credits each for mentoring him and preparing him for the role of director.
“All three of them that I had an opportunity to work for, I learned something differently from each one,” he said, “but I owe a lot of gratitude to Larry because I worked for him the longest.”
In 2008, shortly after Camp was named service director, the economy stalled and several positions within the division were eliminated. He credits the use of technology for enabling service work to continue at an efficient manner despite the reduced staff.
Upon Camp’s retirement, two commissioners will step in to handle day-to-day operations. One is Howard Brebberman, the current commissioner of public service, who will focus on above-ground needs such as road repair, building maintenance and parks. The commissioner of public utilities, a newly created position that has yet to be filled, will handle the infrastructure below ground, including water, sanitary and storm systems. The new city administrator, Patrick Burtch, will oversee both commissioners.
Camp said the new structure makes sense with current changes in EPA regulations, among other things. He also said that with advances in technology, more changes would likely take place, which is good for Maumee.
“In order for the city to keep moving forward, there needs to be fresh ideas and fresh blood. That’s my firm belief in order to keep it moving forward,” he said.
Throughout his tenure, Camp oversaw a number of significant projects, with the new interchange at Dussel Drive among the biggest and most complex, and the new city service building, the one he considers most rewarding.
“It was one of the last new buildings and it had input from staff on design and function. That was probably the most valuable building that we have,” he said.
Leslie Lipper met Camp six years ago when she became the department’s administrative assistant. His knowledge and sense of humor will be missed, she said.
“He’s my go-to guy,” she said. “He’s kind and funny and he gives a lot of good guidance – he’s an all-around great guy.”
“He makes my job easy,” Brebberman said. “He is the ultimate professional when dealing with the public. It has been an awesome opportunity to learn about public service from a guy who is really good at it.”
Camp has been tireless in his commitment to the city and estimates he has attended 600 regular and special council meetings. To him, the best part about the job is the people.
“Employees are unbelievable. Everyone who works for the city of Maumee is dedicated in getting the work done and they take pride in getting everything done in an efficient manner, all the way through,” he said.
Upon retirement, Camp, who is 52, plans to spend time with his wife of 25 years, Cathi, and his children Miranda and Garret before seeing what the next chapter holds.
“I have mixed emotions about retiring, but I’ve always believed that when it is time to retire, you do it and give someone else the same opportunities that you have had,” he said. “It will be good to reclaim my Monday nights back. It’s scary, but I look forward to seeing what the future holds for me. There are still plenty of things in my life that I want to get done. We’ll have to see how quickly I can get to where I want to be.”