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Man on a mission

After 32 years, Martin Montgomery leaves Sandy Public Works to become an entrepreneur


by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Martin Montgomery stands beside his office on wheels during one of his long and busy days as crew leader for the entire public works department.Rhetorically speaking, the lifeblood is being drained from the city of Sandy.

There is some blood left, but 53 years of institutional knowledge is being lost with the retirement of Public Works Crew Leader Martin Montgomery (32 years) on the same day as City Manager Scott Lazenby (21 years) is leaving to become city manager at Lake Oswego.

Montgomery says his retirement from the city is changing him into a private business owner.

Time flies

When Montgomery began working for the city, he was just out of high school and still a teenager. He started working at what anyone would consider the worst job in the city, at the sewer plant.

Nowadays, he’s the top person (crew leader) in the Public Works Department.

City employees are happy with Montgomery, said his supervisor, Mike Walker, public works director.

“The people he supervises like him,” Walker said. “Other city staff members get along well with him because he has such a good attitude, and he’s willing to help anyone on any project. He’s such a steady hand, and remains calm in any crisis.”

Montgomery gets a bit choked up when he tries to explain why he is so helpful; why he voluntarily goes out of his way to help others.

He will admit to some of his friends that he has gone back after work to several local residents’ homes. Earlier in the day he had determined that fixing their water pipe was their responsibility and not the city’s. But an off-duty Montgomery voluntarily returned to fix their pipes.

But there’s a lot more to Martin Montgomery than his three-plus decades of service to Sandy residents who use water, sewers and roads.

Martin, the man

A window was opened to the spirit living inside Montgomery’s body when he tried to answer the question: Why do you want to help so many people?

He found it difficult to say the words: “I hope, if I ever need help, that someone will be there to help me.”

It’s called paying it forward.

Transportation Manager Julie Stephens, who works in the same building as Montgomery, described him in two ways.

“He might be a little gruff on the outside,” she said, “but he has lots of mush on the inside.”

The first impression Montgomery gives people, Stephens said, is not the final answer.

“When people take the time to see what’s inside,” she said, “they’ll find a generous person.”

Martin, the volunteer

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - During non-work hours, Martin Montgomery loves to restore classic cars. In this photo, he is pictured with the 1950 Chrysler he can be seen driving any day.Montgomery is involved in many activities of the Sandy Kiwanis Club, said local and state school board member Terry Lenchitsky, who also is a Kiwanis member.

“Martin is one who will never say no,” Lenchitsky said. “He’s the kind of guy who, when there’s something to do, he’ll stay with it to get it done — the first one there and the last one to leave.”

D.J. Anderson, local school board member and past president of Kiwanis, described a typical volunteer organization.

“There’s a small group of people who are always there when you need them,” he said. “Martin’s one of those.”

At the Sandy Kiwanis Fly-in Cruise-in Breakfast, for example, Montgomery is working in every phase of the operation, including cooking, where up to 3,000 meals are served during a five-hour period.

At the Sandy Mountain Festival, Montgomery takes charge of the 150 booths that are spread around Meinig Park

Martin, the worker

With a work ethic like the one Montgomery wears to work every day, there would be no complaints if the job was to keep the bar screen clean at the sewer plant.

“The bar screen (filter) is where paper and big debris get caught before the (effluent) enters the sewer plant,” he said. “I had to go out there every couple hours and scrape it off. That was my job right after graduating from Sandy High School.”

In answer to the comment that’s not a good place to start, Montgomery said, “That’s the bottom. You can’t get any lower.”

Community Services Director Nancy Enabnit says Crew Leader Montgomery is quick to meet her requests.

“Whenever we ask him for anything,” she said, “he’s just right there.”

Time has just flown by, Montgomery said of the years since his high school graduation.

“I’ve always enjoyed (the work), and I still enjoy it,” he said, “but it’s time to move on — to do something different.”

Martin, into the future

But his plans do not sound all that different.

He still wants to buy, restore and sell classic cars. He still wants to be intimately involved in the Sandy Mountain Festival and Kiwanis Club activities.

But he has begun planning how to open a private business. He wants to test backflow devices, which prevent water from non-potable irrigation systems from re-entering the potable water supply.

Montgomery needs a challenge to add spice to his life, and his current job “is getting old.”

Certainly, locating and testing different backflow devices will be a challenge.

But Lenchitsky said city officials aren’t likely to let Montgomery retire and just walk away because he knows where every pipe and shut-off valve in the city is located.

Even so, Montgomery’s last day on the city calendar is July 30, the day of a going-away party; the day set aside to honor a man ready to turn a page into the next chapter of his life.