By Kay Wilson-Bolton
December 29, 2002
It was a day in early November of 1986 when I received a call from Norm Wilkenson, the City’s director of Public Works. I was so tired and my eyes hurt from post election excitement, but Norm said I needed to visit the Corporation Yard in general, and specifically the Sewer Plant.
I was suddenly aware of the reality and scope of my responsibilities as a newly elected council member as I was introduced to the services the City provides.
When I was interviewed by representatives of the Ventura County Regional Sanitation District as a council candidate, they asked my opinion of their services. I told them I had never heard of them. One of the panel members smiled and said he wasn’t surprised. I didn’t expect any support from them after that response, and I was right. They supported two other candidates.
As I remember, I met Norm at City Hall that cool November morning. He was determined that I knew about his job and his responsibilities to keep our town in business.
We drove to the Corporation Yard and I had the E-ticket tour of the one service most of us thing nothing about, and the one service that means maybe the most to the health and welfare of a community.
I remember standing on the catwalk of the sewer plant, looking down into huge vat of community diversity and seeing things most of us never see. Norm talked with pride about the service, the water, the spreading grounds, the river, the pumps, the recycling, and the people who count on good sewer service.
I remember asking him if we could plant tomatoes in the spreading grounds. He replied that we could, but that we probably wouldn’t want to eat them. I wondered about that and still do.
We then toured town. We talked about the old pipelines on Palm Avenue, the new lines needed all over town, the reasons for good drainage, correct grading, and the need for CCR’s and
I learned two important things that day. One was about Norm’s passion for a city well cared for. He took a long time to talk about what he knew for he knew a lot, and wanted to be sure someone could pass it on.
The other was his passion to finish well. There was never a time at a council meeting when Norm wasn’t prepared to report, educate and inform.
I wish to thank Norm for his passion. It made me a better council member and a better citizen. I remember calling him at home a couple of times when I was desperate for information. He took the call and answered it.
I suppose there is nothing more important for which a public servant wishes to be remembered. He took the call and he answered it.
Thanks Norm. You will be remembered and missed. There was no day when you gave less than your absolute best.