Debbie Burnett was born and raised here in Girard. She was born here and never left. She raised a family here, which includes her two sons. Her mom and brother still live in the area. One of her sons still lives in Girard, and the other lives in Petersburg.
In addition to raising a family, she has also worked for the city for 33 years. It was April 1st, 1983 when she started as a police dispatcher. At that time, she was working part time and also had a home daycare service. She worked as a licensed babysitter in her home daycare for ten years.
Before long, the mayor of the town asked her if she would like to work in the water department. She accepted the position and began working full time in city hall. Her days as the utility billing clerk fill up fast some of the time. Other times can be really slow.
She started in the water department in 1985 and still works there to this day. A typical day involves answering the phones, taking in water bills, and sending out notices for payment. She sends out a second notice for people who don’t pay on time. People will go out and get the readings from the water meters. It all goes back to Burnett.
She wears many hats though. She takes complaints when the police are unavailable. She handles making sure they go to the right place, whether that be the mayor or the police chief. She also works part time at the County Market. She is additionally involved with the fire department and township.
She says that she enjoys her job. When she was offered the job at the water department, the person before her said she hoped that Burnett would enjoy the job as much as she did. She says that she does enjoy it, but she’d be lying if she said it was always a bed of roses.
She answers to the mayor. She says that the worst part of her job is shutting off people’s water for not paying. She does not enjoy doing that to people. In a small town, there is not as much friction in the local politics. Sometimes there is some bad days though.
Both of her sons went to Girard High School. One son is a truck driver and a jack of all trades. The other one works for Lincoln Land Community College. Burnett never went off to college. She has literally lived here for her entire life.
There have been some complaints about the static in the phones in the town. Burnett says they are going to put in a new automated phone system. Burnett says she is going to do her best to answer the phones while she is present in the office, so that it doesn’t go straight to an automated menu. She personally doesn’t like getting a recording when she calls somewhere and likes speaking to a human being, so she’s going to do her best to answer the phones when she is around.
Burnett also says she likes the interconnectedness of the community of Girard. “When we have pain, we all feel the pain,” she says. “When we have good, we all feel the good. It’s pretty much like a family.”
When she’s not busy working, she says that she volunteers when she can.
Source: Girard’s Debbie Burnett in the Water Department Girard’s Debbie Burnett in the Water Department