By Reggie Ellis
There is only one man in Woodlake who knows everything about how Woodlake works and how to keep it running smoothly. In fact, his is the only name to ever grace the office door at the City Yard.
"One of the guys stenciled that on the door while I was gone on vacation," Jerry Jordan grumbled under his cowboy mustache as the other workers chided him to take a picture underneath the words "Jerry's Office."
Jordan will retire on April 8, three days after his 62nd birthday, ending 35 years with the city's Public Works Department. He received an award for his dedication to the City of Woodlake at the city council meeting on Feb. 28.
"He is a good guy and someone you can't replace," City Manager Bill Lewis said. "We wish him well, he definitely deserves it."
Jordan was born in Ozark, Ark. on April 5, 1943 where he lived until his family moved to Woodlake in 1954. After graduation from Woodlake High School, and a four-year tour in the Navy, Jordan married his wife Gail, a Woodlake native, and settled down there. In 1970 Jordan began driving a garbage truck for the city. Two-and-a-half years later he moved over to street maintenance working the backhoe to dig ditches to replace, repair and install the city's water lines. In 1988 he was promoted to foreman, the position he still holds.
"There have been some ups and downs but they have treated me well, otherwise I wouldn't have have stayed for as long as I have," Jordan said.
During his 35 years, Jordan has come to know every nook of Woodlake like the back of his hand. Public Works Director Reuben DeLeon said Jordan has the city's entire water system memorized.
"He is old school and a good guy, someone you can't replace," DeLeon said. "His knowledge is invaluable. He knows where everything is, on the surface and below."
Jordan said Woodlake hasn't changed much in 35 years and neither has his job description. He said the biggest change in the way Public Works operates is that any job more than $5,000 must now be open to bid and contracted out.
"It takes work off of us and allows us to do other things we wouldn't have had time for," he said.
DeLeon said in addition to his vast knowledge of the city, Jordan's experience has given him instant credibility with the men that work under his direction.
"He has nurtured the employees to use their creativity which has been instrumental in troubleshooting and problem solving in the field," DeLeon said. "It has really been a pleasure working with him."
The Jordans have three grown children - Lynda Smith of Visalia, Jerry Jr. of San Luis Obispo and Judy Reese of Bakersfield. Jordan said he and his wife don't plan on leaving Woodlake, but would like to do some traveling in the South.
"My wife was born here and I've spent most of my life here. Our roots are here, so we will probably stay," Jordan said.
Woodlake wouldn't want all that knowledge leaving town anyway!