Verlen Bills started for the City of Watonga as a Volunteer Firefighter March 1, 1984. He was employed a short time later with the Light & Water Department and was appointed to full time Firefighter October 4, 1986. Bills has been a City Employee about 30 years and a firefighter for 31 years.
“And I finally made Employee of the Month!”
Verlen married Cindy Thomas Bills in 1974. Verlen and Cindy’s only child, Amy, was born in 1977. Amy and her husband, Thomas Ellison, are also Watonga residents and have two GREAT kids. Thomas Ellison also works for the City of Watonga as Light & Water Foreman and Building Inspector.
“I have been very fortunate over the years, I enjoy my work. I get paid to play? As with any occupation though, there are good and bad. It would be great if all we had to do was fight the fire. I enjoy winning the fight. That’s the fun part. Unfortunately, there are also tragedies that go along with this that must be dealt with. Firefighters must constantly be mindful of this.”
Every year, during Fire Prevention Week, the Fire Department puts on a Safety Program for the Grade School Kids. “I enjoy being a part of this presentation and watching, when the children’s faces lights up as they see the Big Red Fire Engine.” The Watonga Fire Department assisted the Watonga Public Library this summer and were represented as one of a group of Community Heros. Children of all ages enjoyed the rides on the fire truck and asking the firemen questions.
“As for being Fire Chief, I do not mind the work, It is not necessarily all fun, but is, on occasions, satisfying and fulfilling. I have mentioned in the past, I would much rather be a Firefighter that acts like a Chief sometimes than be a Chief that acts like a Firefighter sometimes. The drawback to this is of-course the “age thing”.
Bills has not yet decided when I might on a retirement date even though he is qualified to do so now. “Like so many other people at this point in life, it is just not possible to quit and do nothing. As long as one needs to stay occupied, they might as well be doing what they’ve gotten good at and enjoy.”
“I would like to thank all those I have worked with in the past and especially those I work with today. You are a big reason I have such an enjoyable career.”
“And to the Community as a whole, Thank-you.”
! To be fair, the City has only been doing “Employee of the Month” for a few years. But, “never let a few facts interfere with a good story”.
The Library staff would like to thank Verlen for being such a good listener during preschool story time as represented in the photo we chose to accompany this article.