The longtime street superintendent announced this week he is officially retiring after 35 years of service with the city.
“My workers say, ‘You aren’t retiring,’” Martin said Wednesday as he sat behind his desk at the city shop. “I said, ‘Yeah, I am. June 29 is my last day.’”
Martin, 59, was born and raised in Pell City. He started working for the city Street Department as a heavy equipment operator and rose up through the ranks to lead the department.
“Mike was a reliable, hard worker,” said former Pell City Mayor Lawrence Fields, who recommended to the council that Martin be promoted to street superintendent in 1995.
“He always got the work done. He has always had a heart for people and the city. He really cares about his city.”
Fields said Martin has always been a dependable, loyal city employee.
He was just 24 years old when he left his father-in-law’s construction business to take a job with the city in 1976.
In 1984, Martin was appointed by then Mayor Harvey Watson as the city’s assistant street superintendent. He became the head of the Street Department 11 years later.
“Mike is one of the best, most loyal employees you could have,” current Mayor Bill Hereford said. “And he leads by example.”
Hereford said not only does Martin care about his employees, but his employees care about him.
“He’s the best boss man I’ve ever had,” said Henry Barber, a light equipment operator.
Martin remembers when he first started working for the city, a time when there were fewer city streets.
“We’ve grown a lot,” he said. “There’s a lot more miles to cover than what we had when I first started.”
The Street Department is responsible for patching roads, cleaning ditches, maintaining traffic lights, cutting grass on all city right of ways, blazing new roads and assisting other departments with projects.
“They (other departments) don’t have the equipment like we do,” Martin said.
Just recently, Martin supervised the construction of the new swimming beach at the city’s Lakeside Park.
He said the biggest project he undertook while serving as street superintendent was the construction of the Pell City Sports Complex.
Martin said the Street Department built five baseball fields, a soccer field, the all-purpose field, the public parking lot and two walking tracks inside the Sports Complex.
He said the Street Department does not do any paving. The paving of all city streets is contracted out, but the Street Department prepares all roads for paving.
Martin said the Street Department cut the road to Jefferson State Community College and the new Veterans Parkway, which provides access to the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital and the Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home.
“I’ve been through a lot of projects with this city,” he said.
Martin said retiring will allow him to spend more time with his family, including attending all his granddaughter’s sports events.
He said his granddaughter, Rochelle Landry, is a senior at Ashville High School and plays softball, basketball and participates in archery competitions.
Martin is also an avid hunter and fisherman.
Martin said his main focus is his daughter Stacy Landry, who is still recovering from serious injuries she suffered when a deadly tornado rolled through Shoal Creek Valley April 27, 2011.
“My daughter needs me more,” he said.
Martin said his wife, Karen, who works at the St. Clair County Courthouse Revenue Department Office, is also excited about his retirement.
Martin said he is still in good enough shape to do things he has always wanted to do.
“I want, at least for a few years, to be able to do what I want to do,” he said.
Martin does, however, have mixed emotions about leaving his city job.
He said the city employees are like family to him.
“Yes, I will miss it,” he said. “It’s been my life, but like I said, I’m ready for retirement.”
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.