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Long-time DPW workers Paul Gangi, Jim Gibbons to retire

Paul Gangi Jr., Winchester DPW's water distribution supervisor, left, and Jim Gibbons, water and sewer operations manager, will be retiring March 15. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/NELL ESCOBAR COAKLEY

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Between them, they have almost 80 years of experience working for the town. But as of March 15, they’ll say good-bye and head for greener pastures.

“Well, Paul will,” says Jim Gibbons, water and sewer operations manager. “I’ll still be around part time, about 15 hours a week to help with the transition.”

Paul would be Paul Gangi Jr., the department’s water distribution supervisor, who has put in 40 years to Gibbons’ 37 years and nine months.

“I’m ready for a change,” Gangi says. “I’m tired. I’m not retiring, I’m just ready to change.”

After 40 year, Paul Gangi Jr. is retiring from the DPW. He is the third generation of his family to work in the department, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather before him. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/NELL ESCOBAR COAKLEY

The entire process is bittersweet, Gibbons says.

“I wish the physical ailments weren’t holding me back,” he says. “I know I can’t do this five days a week.”

Both men joke about not only a long-time working relationship, but also a lifetime friendship. As hometown Winchester kids, they’ve known each other forever and graduated Winchester High School two years apart. Gangi in 1983 and Gibbons in 1981.

And they’ve both had a long history with the DPW, as well.

“I’m third generation,” Gangi explains. “My grandfather was here from ’44 to ’74, my dad from ’66 to ’78 and now me, from ’84 to now.”

Gibbons had two uncles in the department, one of whom had been there since the 1940s.

“He was an old timer,” Gibbons says with a laugh.

Gangi came to the DPW right out of high school, progressing from being a laborer in the Highway Department before coming to the garage and finally in 1987, taking over the sewer station and pumps in the Water Department. In 2004, he took the supervisor job.

Gibbons attended three different colleges, but he says it wasn’t for him. When a job opened up with the town in 1986, he took it. He spent about 19 years as the town’s first person to run the water treatment plant, a job that required training to understand state and national guidelines. Eventually, he transferred to the office to oversee operations.

“I carry this place around 24/7, 365 days a year,” Gangi says, of his job. “If there are any issues, I’m around.”

“You’ll never ever find a more dedicated public employee than Paul Gangi,” Gibbons says, jumping in. “Ever.”

Jim Gibbons has been with the DPW for 37 years, and he adds, 9 months. Although he's scheduled to officially retire March 15, Gibbons will remain on the job in order to train a replacement yet to be found. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/NELL ESCOBAR COAKLEY

The two reminisce about the job, from snow plowing nights to water main breaks and everything in between. They say things have changed from when they started out together.

“People don’t stay,” Gangi explains. “When people took a job, they stayed at that job. You can’t hold people anymore. And expectations have changed.”

“Town workers used to get more praise,” Gibbons adds. “Now, we still get some, but not as much.”

“Town workers are looked down on,” Gangi says. “I tell my guys all the time that if you do your job, you can hold your head up high.”

With time dwindling, Gangi is training his replacement, Peter Decubellis, who has been on the job about five years. But he’s looking forward to taking time with his family, especially his 6-month-old grandson. There’s also the 1933 pickup truck he’s rebuilding and a much-anticipated trip to Alaska in July.

“It’s been on my bucket list,” Gangi says. “You know, people retire and then they die and don’t do the things they always wanted to do.”

‘These guys have given their lives to the town of Winchester. They are completely dedicated to the town.’ Robert Labossiere, DPW director

Gibbons agrees, adding the two are more than likely to pick up something part time once they officially retire. But they will definitely stay in touch.

“I’ll watch over him,” Gangi laughs. “We’ll communicate.”

Just as the two are being talked into a photo shoot, DPW Director Robert Labossiere pops in to joke with the duo.

“I’m going to miss them,” he says. “These guys have given their lives to the town of Winchester. They are completely dedicated to the town. They’re great people to work with, great people in general.”

Gangi and Gibbons are clearly touched by the praise, but Labossiere isn’t done, adding he’s been trying to get them to change their minds.

“They’re going to be truly missed,” he says, when the two say they’re definitely retiring. “I’m sad to see them go. But, I’ll see [Gibbons] on Monday morning.”

When their boss leaves the office, the two turn introspective. It’s been a long time on the job.

“It’s been a good job,” Gangi says, finally. “It’s been challenging at times, but it’s been a good job.”

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