There will be a changing of the guard in Manchester, albeit a familiar new guard, as Director of Public Works Donnie Nott retires from a 32-year career with the department.
“It’s just time for me to move on,” he said he decided last winter.
His last official day as director is Dec. 28.
The town’s situation is a little unique in that Rodney Kuhns, who will take over the role, has already begun work. There has been a two-month period of transition where the two overlap and Kuhns gets used to the new systems needed to do the job.
Kuhns is from the area, a graduate of North Carroll High School, and has his own 30-year career in Public Works with Carroll County, including years with the Bureau of Fleet Management and Water and Wastewater.
Steve Miller, town administrator for Manchester, was formerly the director of public works and has worked with Nott since he started as a water and wastewater operator. The two have also been members and occasionally officers of the Manchester volunteer fire company over the years.
“He’s a hometown person,” he said of Nott. “We live in the town, so we have a vested interest in our town and that means a lot when you’re making decisions on tax increases, water and sewer increases,” he said.
Of the transition, he said he was happy to be able to do it with the overlap in the two directors. “It’s going to be pretty much seamless,” he said.
Nott has enjoyed working with the people in his department, young and old. “When I started here, it was just Steve and then me, and then we’ve grown,” he said.
They’re a “good bunch of people,” he said. “I can’t say enough, it’s just a good bunch. … We’re a small group, but when push comes to shove, we get it done.”
Some of his favorite parts of the job have been working outside and working with his hands. One of the favorite jobs in the department is mowing outside on a nice day when it isn’t too hot. He won’t miss when he had to go down to fix a water main break in the dead of winter.
When snow falls, plowing means long hours and all hands on deck. Even when a night is spent plowing, the day-to-day needs of the town still have to be taken care of, and that may mean a 45-minute dinner break before starting a full day of work.
“The guys know, when it snows, if you plowed all night, water and wastewater still has to go,” he said.
Winter also means more water main breaks. “What we’re worried about, the ground is so saturated and when it gets cold, it’s going to freeze and freeze deep. … The ground shifts and then you get a lot of water main breaks,” he said of Maryland’s rainy summer and fall.
“People don’t understand when it snows we have 107 streets we maintain,” he said. He hopes that people know that mistakes aren’t intentional and the crews are doing as much as they can with the resources they have.
For Nott, the first month or so of the new year will be for figuring out what he wants to do next.
He’ll still live in town, and he’ll be available by phone if Public Works needs a hand.