Perrysburg street boss hits the road

Lloyd Swanson (Photo:
Andrew Weber/Sentinel-Tribune)

PERRYSBURG – Lloyd Swanson’s hitting the road.
After more than 31 years with the City of Perrysburg – 21 as street operations supervisor – the lifelong
city resident and 1966 Perrysburg High School graduate retired from his post earlier this year.
Swanson’s tenure with the city began by accident in 1980 when, after seven years with Libbey-Owens-Ford,
he was laid off for a third time.
"And I just by dumb luck ran into the mayor’s secretary" the day after, he said, and was told
that the city was hiring. Swanson said he was interested and was called a day or two later saying he was
"No application, no physical, just go to work," he said.
Swanson was hired as a light equipment operator with the street division. "And then after 10 years
of that they created the position of street operations supervisor, and that was a civil service
position. I tested for it and moved into there in the office in 1990."
Stepping into a just-created position – and one in management – was a new experience. The division itself
primarily focused on street repair, snow and ice removal, and also taking care of all public buildings.

"It was a new position, so I had the street division and the mechanics that I supervised, which was
14 guys I believe at the time. No secretaries, no staff, no administrative staff, anyways." It was
one of two supervisor positions at the time; the other watched over parks and sanitation in the city.

"The most difficult part was just the volume of the work," not just the workload that Swanson
had, but also the work of his staff.
"And of course the city was growing."
Swanson’s responsibilities continued to grow, as well. Additional mechanics and equipment operators were
added, the refuse department (for which he provided manpower as needed) expanded, and new programs
continually began, including leaf pickup.
"We were like a labor pool at that time," Swanson recalled.
And there were other changes.
"I worked for eight different mayors," which meant that something would change with each
election, he said.
At the time Swanson first began working with the city, he said there was a lot more latitude in the kinds
of services that the streets division could provide. They would formerly pull people’s vehicles out of
ditches or jump cars, for example, beyond the scope of their usual work.
The most memorable time on the job, he said, was the preparation for President Ronald Reagan’s visit to
Perrysburg during a whistlestop tour in 1984. This included working with members of the Secret Service.
The division had 36 hours to get things ready for the president’s arrival.
"We actually physically built bleachers on Louisiana Avenue," he said. Vehicles even had to be
parked on top of manhole covers for security, and streets leading uptown had to be barricaded.
Swanson’s love for things automotive also added to his enjoyment of the position.
"Out there in my job we maintained 111 vehicles for the city," as well as equipment, with two
mechanics and a mechanic’s helper. He said he always wanted to spend as much time as possible in the
mechanics’ shop.
His interest in automobiles stretches into his leisure time – to a buccaneer orange 1973 Pontiac
Granville convertible he has been working on, and which he has entered in the annual Perrysburg car
"It’s a work in progress. It’s actually for sale but it’s a work in progress."
With his newfound free time, Swanson has begun doing work in the community.
"I’ve already started volunteer work at the (Way Library). I work in the local history portion for
(local history librarian Richard Baranowski) up there. He’s got a couple little projects he’s got me
working on."
Swanson and his wife, who have two sons, also have four grandchildren.
"So we travel, I’m going to do some volunteer work, I’ve got grandkids, sounds kind of boring,
doesn’t it?" he quipped about retirement.
He said that what he didn’t realize about his job until he retired was how large a group of people he had
contact with on a weekly basis – not just building staff, but police officers, firefighters, members of
other services, and the public and vendors.
"Those are the things you miss," he said, adding that you don’t recognize it when you’re in the
middle of it.

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