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Town of Outlook Spotlight: Merv McGill, Certified Operator

Making sure residents feel that money is well-spent is a key to success.
Certified operator Merv McGill hopes that taxpayers feel they're getting their money's worth with the work that he and staff carry out in town. Photo: Derek Ruttle/The Outlook

OUTLOOK - Giving the taxpayers their money's worth.

That's what Merv McGill says is key to making sure that people in the riverside community of Outlook are happy with the services being carried out by Merv and everyone else on the Town of Outlook staff.

It's a simple take, but when you think about it, it also makes all the sense in the world. After all, as a certified operator, McGill and everyone else who are out there day in and day out ensuring that everything runs smoothly and issues are taken care of, all to make sure that the services that the townspeople expect day in and day out are there when they need them.

It's an understanding between taxpayers and town workers that's been there for, well, how old is the town of Outlook again? Ah yes, 115 years young.

For over a decade now, residents have been able to see Merv out there, either manning machinery or working at any of the town's service buildings. He's what many might call a 'seasoned veteran' of the game, and the knowledge that he's accumulated in nearly twenty years with the Town is something that the rest of his coworkers take very seriously.

"I started with the park in the summer and the rink in the winter," explained Merv. "That was about 19 years ago. I enjoyed camping and I wanted to do some of that in the summer, and it was a challenge when I worked at the campground, so Rick (Pederson) offered me a position in the summer. So, I ended up working at the rink in the winter and working with public works in the summer, to start."

As has been learned in this story series, there's really no such thing as a 'typical' day for town workers, as there's a laundry list of things that can pop up at any given time. McGill says that while that does indeed happen, there are key areas that town staff also take into consideration.

"There are always things that come up," said Merv. "But, there are always priorities, as well. The water plant and sewer are number one, and when it snows or there's a storm or other things that come up, they have to be fit in, as well."

Fitting in everything that needs tackling can be a challenge, and Merv says there are only so many hours in a day and only so many things that town staff can address in that time.

"There's been many over the years," said Merv, on the challenges that come with his job. "Getting done what needs to be done and not worrying about the rest until the next day because there's only so much you can do in eight hours."

While Merv is looking forward to retirement, he says the community is filled with great people who are complimentary of the working being carried out by himself and fellow staff.

"I look forward to retiring one year before too long," he said. "They have a good pension and benefit plan. But it's the community itself; the majority of the people are nice and have a lot of positive feedback for what we do here."

There are many aspects of working a job such as Merv's that people might be blind to, especially when that job can call you out of bed at random hours of the night. McGill says he sometimes wishes that people would deepen their understanding in this regard and remind themselves that we're all residents of Outlook who have homes and lives of our own.

"They're not the only ones who live on their block!" said Merv with a grin. "Many people think that their concerns should be at the top of the priority list, and that's not always the case. We try to deal with things that need to be dealt with in a timely manner, but unfortunately it's not as straight-forward as some people might think."

The sheer length of time that he's committed to his job is something that's almost taken McGill by surprise, with almost two decades under his belt.

"Yes, from the time I started," he said. "I never thought that I'd make a career of this. I'd done auto body straight out of high school and did that for several years, and I'd also taken a parks management program, and I actually moved to the area to work for a farmer, and I threw my resume in with the Town, and that was over 19 years ago now."

Friendly people and having most of what you need are two of the things that Merv says make Outlook stand out as a community. If need be, the city is also a short drive.

"The people are friendly, and the commute is short," he said. "We have most of the essentials that you need, whereas some smaller communities don't. For the things that can't be bought or the services not offered, Saskatoon is only an hour away."

McGill says he's just a worker bee and he tries to do his job the best way he can each day. He hopes that local people feel that they're getting their money's worth with the work that he and staff carry out. When the day does come that he hangs up his work hat, Merv is also looking at the possibility of serving on town council in order to provide a worker perspective on the community.

"I aim to do my job to the best of my ability," he said. "I just do my best on a daily basis and try to make the most of the taxpayer dollar for the work that's done at the end of the day. I've worked hard in my time here, and I've seen a lot of change, and I'm very proud to represent this town."