Some of Garner’s employees come home-grown. Most hail from the state or at least this hemisphere. The Town of Garner Public Works Employee of the Year hails from none of the above.
Ed DaRosa grew up on the Azores Islands 850 miles west of Portugal, so his journey to a designated parking spot in the department lot covers a few more miles tha most. Not that the journey has impaired or worn the handyman, whom town employees praise for his helpfulness and demeanor.
“Just about everyone who has worked with Ed can’t say enough nice things about him and his approach to his work,” public works director Paul Cox said of his facilities maintenance technician.
DaRosa received the award – voted on by peers – at the May 22 cookout for the department during Public Works Week. In addition to a parking space he will receive a free lunch with the town manager, a fishing pass for town rentals, and the night off on July 3, when most town employees have to work during the town’s biggest event of the year.
An employee since March 2005, DaRosa takes care of building maintenance; the team he works for handles everything from mechanical and electrical to plumbing issues. DaRosa in particular provides expertise in plumbing and irrigation. He has spent much of the last several years updating the town’s irrigation system.
“I was very happy and very appreciative of my co-workers and the way they feel about me,” DaRosa said.
DaRosa, 52, grew up on a string of nine volcanic rock islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, a semi-autonomous land controlled by Portugual. The isolated islands have a land area similar to Wake County and provide a home to little more than a quarter of a million people. About 27 years ago, a young the son of a fisherman left in search of better job opportunities than he could find on the island.
He settled in California and worked a variety of cleaning jobs before getting a job working for the City of San Leandro, just south of Oakland on the East Bay. There he cared for a 40-acre water reclamation facility.
DaRosa described his “American Dream” experience in only the most positive terms.
“I love to stay here in the United States,” DaRosa said. He honed in further on North Carolina when he and his wife visited his sister, who taught in an elementary school.
“I fell in love with North Carolina, how quiet it is, it kind of reminds me of my island. We decided we would like to move here,” DaRosa said in his Portuguese accent.
He managed to get a job when he applied to the town, and has been a steady reliable force since, Cox said.
“He’s interested in learning and training. He’s done a lot of that since he’s been here. He’s well liked by his co-workers here at the department,” Cox said. “If you need help, he’ll help you. He doesn’t do it the way he wants it done, he does it the way you want it done.”
The application asked for a few words to describe the nominee. In DaRosa’s case, dependable, courteous, kind, reliable and accommodating all came up, Cox said.
DaRosa has no intention of leaving soon as long as the town will keep him around. His youngest of four children remains in Garner High School, while the rest have grown and live in California.
“I’ve been here nine years and I feel love like it was the first day,” DaRosa said.