Get to Know Your City Employees: John Holden

National Public Works Week is May 20 through 26! We appreciate our public works staff every week of the year, but in honor of NPWW, we'll be highlighting five public works employees with a new, "Get to Know Your City Employees." each day this week. Today we are highlighting Water Production Supervisor John Holden.

Name: John Holden

What is your position? Water Production Supervisor for the Water Bureau, Department of Public Works.

But no, really, what does that position do? Basically I oversee the production of safe drinking water for the City of Lancaster and ten surrounding municipalities from two water treatment plants, one on the Susquehanna River and one on the Conestoga River.

How does your job relate to making Lancaster a better, safer, or more equitable community? The Water Bureau produces better than bottle water quality water. We do this always keeping in mind the customers economic welfare. To get that water to rate payers we have an aged system that we continuously improve upon through our pipe replacement and relining program. Our program to upgrade our meter reading to automatic reads is ready to roll out in June. This will enable us to replace aging meters and read meters throughout our water system as frequently as daily. The program will flag abnormal usage allowing us to inform homeowners of possible leaks well before it becomes an eye-popping bill. A moderate leaking toilet flush valve can waste 6,000 gallons a month.

What are your hobbies outside of your city position? Tinkering at home. The latest is hanging a shade sail. Hiking. Whatever activities my son is in. Watching the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. All football actually. I do fantasy football.

Where do you like to visit in town (restaurants, bars, parks, etc.)? We are simple folk. Our night out typically is sandwiches at Isaacs although Sukhothai has recently been added to the list after years of cajoling from my wife. I walk the dog daily. I try to get in the woods as much as I can and use the County Park a lot. Day to day I’ll walk around Buchanan Park. We’re not dog park people but the pathways into the park from West End Avenue is like an artist’s rendering come to life with all the activity. Also at that entrance the Parks Bureau is doing a wonderful job with the plants. For years nothing grew there but the last two or three it has been great. Can I mention Junior Plaza and his crew from the Parks Crew?

Do you have siblings? Kids? Pets? I have two older sisters (but apparently my oldest sister has become the youngest of the family). My wife and I have a 21-year-old son we are extremely proud of. We have an 11-year-old miniature poodle that is the best dog I ever had.

What was your job before working for the City of Lancaster? From 12 to 18, I delivered furniture for Oblenders Furniture formerly of S. Queen St., E. King St., and Seymour St. From 16 to 19 I was a pizza king for the second Your Place Pizza in Lititz. I started as temporary help with the City in 1975 and was brought on as a Water Plant Operator at our Susquehanna Water Treatment Plant in March of 1976 before moving into management at the Conestoga Water Treatment Plant.

What is one thing you wish people knew about your job/what are the most common misconceptions about your job? My job oversees a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week complex operation. Everyone I work with strives to deliver this product 100% of the time. We do this in the background so when you turn on your tap clean, safe, aesthetically pleasing water is there for you. Two feet of snow on top of one half inch of ice over 30 inches of frozen ground or 90-degree weather with 100% humidity does not stop us from working. We do this Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Fourth of July. We have a dedicated team that works diligently behind the scenes. Senior City management appreciates what we do and is very supportive.

What is your best, “Lancaster Moment?” My son was in the J. P. McCaskey Marching Unit from 2011 to 2015. His last year at one of the last performances they just crushed it playing Tear The Roof Off The Sucka by Parliament at the Lancaster Catholic Showcase. The music program within the School District of Lancaster is a hidden gem more people should be aware of. He had great instructors since fourth grade culminating with the outstanding work at the high school level. The teachers there taught so much more than music. They taught me life lessons while teaching my son even though I was much older than them.

What’s your favorite song right now? I’ve been listening to 70’s funk lately with Marvin Gaye and the Brothers Johnson coming to mind. How about Stomp by the Brothers Johnson?