Beal and Savage retire from town with years of experience

By David Peck

The Town of Lovell lost a huge amount of institutional memory this week with the retirement of public works employees Doug Savage and Dan Beal, who leave with a combined 54 years of experience.

Monday was their last day on the job.

A 1972 graduate of Lovell High School, Beal worked a variety of construction jobs over many years before he was hired by the Town of Lovell 15 years ago.

“I was doing perfataping, and it was good money but wasn’t consistent,” he said. He took a job with the town because it was steady and offered benefits. And, he said, “I like the people I worked with.”

Beal is mostly known as the street sweeper operator for the town during the summer, and during the winter he has run a variety of town equipment including the backhoe, Bobcat, dump truck, garbage truck “and wherever they needed somebody,” he said.

He will be 68 this month and said his knees have suffered wear and tear over the years to the point where it made work difficult.

“I thought it was a good time (to retire),” he said. “All of the old people are retiring, and they can get some new people in here.”

But Beal doesn’t plan to take it easy. He would like to work on his grandmother Marvell Lookhart’s house on Kansas and perhaps move his mother, Donna, into town from her place west of Lovell Lake.

Asked what he will miss the most about his job, Beal replied quickly, “The people,” adding, “I enjoy the work, and I like running machinery, but the people are good to work with.”

He noted the retirements of Rod Allred, Ed Allred, Savage and himself, with well over 100 years of experience combined.

Doug Savage

Town of Lovell public works director Doug Savage Jr. has also retired after 39 years with the town. The son of Eva and the late Doug Savage Sr., Savage was born in California and lived in Whitehall, Mont., for several years before moving to Lovell when he was in the third grade. He graduated from Lovell High School in 1977.

Savage worked at the sugar factory for one campaign, then was called on an LDS mission in Columbus, Ohio, which he served from 1978 to 1980. He married Robyn Anderson in 1981.

He said he worked campaign another year at the sugar factory, then hired on with the town in the summer of 1982, working the rose gardens with Monroe Sessions for the season. He was planning to return to the factory that fall and received a call from Great Western Sugar asking him to work.

“Bob Brandt was the town manager, and I told him I would have to quit a couple of weeks early (to work at the factory),” Savage said. “He said, ‘That’s too bad. I was planning on keeping you on full time.’”

He quickly called the factory and said he was going to stay with the town.

Savage said he did a variety of work with the public works crew including working part-time at the water plant with Rod and Ed Allred. Leo Kocherhans was the public works director, and five or six years later, Savage was told to “start following Leo around” so that he could take over for the retiring director. He did so and was soon named public works director in the late 1980s.

Savage has taken course work over the years to obtain a level I water distribution certification and level II wastewater and collection (sewer) certification. He said the requirements have changed for smaller towns in recent years, and only a level I certification is required, which both new public works director Adrin Mayes and crew member Chris Bryson possess for water and sewer lagoon.

Both Savage and Rod Allred are contract operators, as well, and have done work for the Town of Byron.

Savage said he has truly enjoyed working for the Town of Lovell.

“It doesn’t take long before it’s more than a job. You feel it’s your responsibility,” Savage said of his work in the community. “It’s everything – clean water, smooth roads, passable roads in the snow, the infrastructure. It’s kind of stressful sometimes. If you’re in town, you’re on call.”

Savage said he has been called out every hour of the 24 hours in a day, either for town work or as a volunteer fireman, and he said he couldn’t have done it without his wife, Robyn.

“She’s been super supportive,” he said. “With this job a lot of times you have to leave your Christmas dinner or during opening presents – or on Thanksgiving.”

Town administrator Jed Nebel said the town will very much miss Savage, noting, “I can’t say enough about Doug. On his last day (Monday), he was digging a sewer line. You can’t make that up. He was digging a sewer line.”

Nebel said Savage has been great with the public, too, even during stressful situations, stating, “Doug’s got ice water in his veins.”

Now 68, Savage plans to visit he and Robyn’s eight kids, most of whom live in Utah, and he and Robyn love to golf. Fishing and hunting are in his plans, as well, and he said he’ll always be available to help the town when needed.

“I’ve told them, don’t hesitate to call me,” he said.

He’s also staying on as a volunteer fireman, with 33 years under his belt, having started in 1988.

Savage said the people of Lovell have been great over the years, and he recalled the hailstorm of 2018, when the townspeople rolled up their sleeves and went to work clearing the streets. It was evening when the storm struck, and before much could be organized, the sun went down.

“I went out early the next morning and I couldn’t believe the things people had done,” he said. “There was a line to the vegetative waste site (north of town). It was bumper to bumper. People had been out with their chainsaws, and by the time the sun was up all of the roads were clear.

“I was amazed by the community, but that typifies Lovell. I was amazed by the work that got done that night.”

Savage said he also appreciates the great leadership the town has had from mayors and members of the town council, noting, in particular, the water and sewer infrastructure project.

“I read an article recently that said our nation gets a D-minus for infrastructure,” Savage said. “We get a chance to visit with other communities, too, and for Lovell to get this done at the time we did has been beneficial. When we talk to other communities, they want to do the same thing, but the money just isn’t there. It was forward-thinking (of the mayor and council).

“Boy, we got ahead of the game. To do that now would be almost impossible.”

Savage is thankful for the Town of Lovell not only because of the job but because of how supportive the leadership has been over the years, like when he and Robyn had to spend a great deal of time in Utah when son Sean was battling cancer.

“I was going  back and forth to Utah, and the town was really good to let me go down and be with them (Sean and Robyn),” he said. “Bruce Morrison (former mayor) said I had the best job in Lovell, and I agree. The people I’ve worked with are amazing.”