PRYOR, OK —
City of Pryor Street Department Superin-tendent Jack Downing is definitely a “road” scholar. After 32 years on the job, he is the resident expert.
Born in Claremore, Downing moved to Locust Grove as a youngster. He graduated from Locust Grove High School in 1976 and married his wife, Joyce, in 1978. He has four kids and 10 grandkids.
“I started with the street department on July 1, 1981,” Downing said. He’s served as superintendent for 10 years.
Over the years, he’s seen a lot of changes.
“There was the ‘Y’ at Elliott and old Highway 20,” he said. “I remember years ago when there was a lumber yard on old Highway 20.”
Downing said the team at the street department stays busy doing concrete work, asphalt work, drainage, tree trimming and all their own sign work.
When winter weather strikes Mayes County, the street department is hard at work.
“We have three trucks that are set up to handle a snow plow or a spreader,” Downing said. “We wait for the weather and then follow it.”
Ultimately, it is Downing’s decision when the trucks head out to begin treating the roads.
“We rely on the police department alot,” he said. “They will notify us of trouble areas.”
Basic snow routes are hit first, like Elliott Street “from curve to curve” and Ninth Street, or roads adjacent to main street.
“We don’t have the manpower or the budget to hit every street in town, but we try to make it so once you’re out of your neighborhood, you can navigate,” Downing said.
Once snow routes are complete, the department concentrates on trouble spots.
“We rely on word of mouth to find out what those are,” he said. “We try to target the known trouble spots first, but we want the public to let us know when a trouble spot becomes evident.”
After 32 years, Downing still likes what he does.
“Oh yes, I love my job,” he said. “I’ve always liked work like this.”
The only downside isn’t the job, it’s him.
“Well, as I get older, I do notice the temperature changes more,” Downing said with a wide grin.
Whether he notices the temperatures or not, it doesn’t change his behavior much. Downing loves the outdoors and enjoys hunting, fishing and camping.
He’s the first to tell you his crew is the best and recognizes that any success they have is a team effort.
With a lifetime on the street crew, the only thing Downing hasn’t curbed is his enthusiasm.