WILTON — On his last day as superintendent of the Wilton Water and Wastewater departments, Clayton “Putt” Putnam had three words to say: “Thank you, Wilton.”

“It has been a wonderful place to work at,” he said after 28 years on the job. “I’ve been blessed through here. The community has been so giving, appreciative and supportive to the department.”

Putnam, 66, of Livermore Falls planned to leave Friday, but Wilton employees gave him a party Wednesday so he decided to use vacation time and leave Thursday.  

He admitted it has been a little harder to pull back and let someone else do the work. Putnam has worked with Justin Futia, the new superintendent, for the past few weeks.

Putnam started as a repairman in the wastewater department in 1988.  

Both he and former Superintendent Russ Mathers came out of the labor dispute at International Paper in Jay. Mathers joined the department in 1987.

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Putnam was a millwright at International Paper. During an interview for the Wilton position, he expressed confidence that he could fix the plant’s air compressor. He was later told he had the job after that statement.

“I only knew him (Mathers) by face at IP, but we became friends,” Putnam said. “You can have co-workers and co-workers who are friends.”

The two departments came together under Mathers, he said. The crew of four bonded. 

When Mathers died in 2011, Putnam became superintendent. 

Neither had experience with water or wastewater but learned on the job. They both earned their water and wastewater licenses in the 1990s. 

For several years, Mathers and Putnam used their knowledge and experience do as many repairs as they could and developed a conceptual idea of what needed to be done, he said.

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The goal was to pay off the debt on the 1978 plant and use funds to revitalize it. The debt was gone in 2008 and the facility assessed in 2009, but the current plant renovation wasn’t started until November of this year, he said. However, there were over 25 substations renovated in 2012.

“It has been a long haul,” he said.

The plant is not expanding. The work is about updating to a better quality of affluent leaving the plant. Regulations are tighter than they used to be and will likely be even tighter in coming years, he said.

Now he looks forward to more time to serve his church, travel and spend time making memories with children in his extended family, he said.

Putnam and his wife, Noreen, have been married 47 years. They have two children and two grandchildren. A member of Fayette Baptist Church, he enjoys serving, especially at their community meals, he said. His travel plans include seeing more of Maine.

“I will miss the people and I’ve always liked the job,” he said.

Work ranged from shoveling a ditch to preparing a budget, working in the lab or dealing with regulatory agencies.

“I always felt appreciated for all the effort put forth,” Putnam said. “The word love is overused but I can say I’ve felt cared for and loved.” 

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