WALLINGFORD — Public Works Department Director Henry McCully is retiring this spring after 36 years with the department.
His final day is slated for May 2, just past his job anniversary in April.
“I didn’t have a good job, I had a great job,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve always been a people-person, and that’s a huge part of the job.”
McCully, 70, was hired as general foreman in 1983, drawing on his experience in construction as a bricklayer.
After five years, he was promoted to superintendent, and five years after that, to director, where he’s been for the last 26 years.
McCully immigrated from Motherwell, a town in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1966.
He learned bricklaying from his brother, John McCully, who was living in Southington. John McCully has since died, but McCully has three other brothers and a sister in Scotland.
In 1969, McCully joined the U.S. Navy and served as a medic during the Vietnam War. He earned a teaching degree from Southern Connecticut State University, and played professional soccer with the North American Soccer League throughout the 1970s.
His wife, Betsy McCully, is the secretary for the school system’s assistant superintendent for curriculum. They live in Wallingford and have two daughters — Ann, 36, and Katie, 30 — two grandsons, and one more grandchild on the way.
The Public Works Department’s 34 workers spend a lot of time on maintenance of town roads, parks, buildings and vehicles. As director, McCully is also the town tree warden.
Wallingford has 230 miles of roads, he said, and they need to be swept, paved and plowed throughout the year.
“We cover a lot of ground,” he said, “and we need to keep things moving.”
Public works also must comply with a state mandate called the MS4, which covers pollution regulations for small municipal stormwater systems.
McCully said he’s most proud of the public works projects that serve residents.
He oversaw the relocation of the Parks and Recreation Department from the former Simpson School to its current home on Fairfield Boulevard.
He also worked on constructing the current town Senior Center on Washington Street and a resident drop-off site at the town landfill.
One of the biggest changes during his time at public works was the switch from a salt-and-sand mixture, applied to roads during snowstorms, to a treated salt substance called Magic Salt, which melts ice at a lower temperature. The change occurred during the 1990s.
Although the product worked well on roads, it corroded the underbody of the plow trucks, forcing a switch to all stainless steel parts.
McCully said he plans to stay active during retirement by mountain biking, going to the gym and golfing.
Cathy Johns, public works executive secretary, said Wednesday she’s worked with McCully for the past seven years.
She transferred to public works after 24 years in the town Human Resources Department.
“I wouldn’t have transferred down here if it wasn’t for Henry (McCully),” Johns said. “There wasn’t very many places I would go. … You couldn’t work for a nicer man, and deal with a nicer person.”
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said McCully “has been a very capable and caring director of public works.”
“He’s very attentive,” Dickinson said, “especially in times of snow and other emergencies, having the workforce ready at their jobs when we need them.
The test for McCully’s replacement is Friday. No qualified applicants were found within public works, but town employees in other departments, as well as qualified outside candidates, will be admitted to the test.