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Reis kept Manteca moving for almost 28 years

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Reis kept Manteca moving for almost 28 years

Dennis Reis – the man responsible for keeping Manteca's streets in shape – is retiring next month.


POSTED April 29, 2009 2:44 a.m.
Ask Dennis Reis to describe his job and he’ll do it in three words: “Flat and black.”

Reis is retiring next month after nearly 28 years working with the City of Manteca’s street division. He’s been in charge for just over two decades.

The 1967 Manteca High graduate took the job because of the stability it offered.

“The pay wasn’t all that great back then,” Reis said, noting he started working for $116 a week.

Reis is departing early as part of a group of municipal workers who are volunteering to take early retirement golden handshakes to help the city plug an anticipated $11.3 million deficit expected to materialize in the fiscal year starting July 1. All but $2 million to $4 million has been plugged thanks to cost saving moves such as Reis’ retirement.

The streets division, however, is anything but flush. The city won’t be filling Reis’ position and instead will have a lead worker report directly to Deputy Director of Public Works Jim Stone. Right now, the streets division has nine workers – exactly the number that was on board when Reis started in 1981.

There are 15 positions authorized in the budget but the city has left them vacant as people retired due to the state continuing to “borrow” state gas money meant for local street upkeep.

There are 193 miles of streets in Manteca as of June 30, 2008. That reflects a 53 mile increase in 10 years and perhaps as much as triple the miles when Reis started. Reis and his crew maintain those streets plus curbs, gutters and sidewalks.

They also handle flooded streets.

“It’s gotten a lot better thanks to the storm drain system,” Reis said. “We use to barricade off various blocks of streets and use them for temporary storm retention basins. It was that bad.”

In a bid to extend the life of streets even further than usual due to tight fiscal times, Reis and his crews have been aggressively sealing cracks in streets to slow down deterioration of pavement.

Currently, city crews respond to issues with potholes within 24 hours of them being reported.

Stone said as personnel gets cut back even more due to budget problems that service level will drop out of necessity. There simple will no longer be adequate manpower to react quickly.

Manteca, unlike many other municipalities, years ago switched to a process in street rehabilitation where city crews will seal cracks and take care of issues at the gutter to make sure the flow line is correct whether it involves cutting down pavement or redoing concrete work so all the city has to pay for is a contractor to overlay the streets.

The next big street projects that are utilizing restricted funds to complete that can’t be used to pay general fund expenses are West Yosemite Avenue from Union Road to Winters Drive, East Yosemite Avenue fromCottage Avenue to Northwoods Drive, and Union Road from Crom Street to Louise Avenue.

“Where else could I have a job that I could be at work in three minutes and have a pickup truck I could take home 365 days a year?” Reis asked.

Of course, he forgets to mention that it is because he is on call 24 hours to take care of any type of street emergency that may crop up whether it is flooding, downed street lights or other safety issues.

As for retirement, Reis said he’ll have plenty to keep busy between seven grandchildren ages 3 to 13 and a passion for fishing.
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