As he prepares for his departure, Hughes talks of how it began with a part time summer job when he attended Rockmart High School.
He assumed full time duties in 1974 and recalls working on a trash truck, as a meter reader, fireman, police officer, and at the water filtration plant.
Hughes was named Public Works director during the 1980s after Raymond Weaver retired.
“I have worked during the tenure of three mayors, including Steve Smith, Curtis Lewis and Steve Miller,” he said.
The past remains a vivid memory for Hughes. His eyes sparkle when he remembers the early days.
“I have been part of the transition from the days of pencil and paper to computers and technology,” he said.
When he was a meter reader, he had to hand read each one. Now it is done by electronic radio read.
This upgrade changed a job that once would take more than two weeks to one day of reading more than 3,000 water meters.
As a police officer, Hughes filled out reports by hand. He said it was labor intensive and took time away from street patrols or other duties. Today, reports can be uploaded into a computer in minutes.
There have also been changes in public works. Hughes can travel around the city with a hand held device. If a water leak or other need is noted, the reading is mapped and information sent to a database. It is printed out divided into categories of what and where work needs to be done.
The process now takes about 30 minutes to get a work order completed and delegated to staff. In the past, it could take up to a week.
“We have come a long way since I starting working here,” Hughes said. “Everything is now more organized and streamlined. It is more efficient and cost effective.”
After he retires on Dec. 31, Hughes plans to spend more time with his family, traveling, hunting and fishing.
“He will be missed,” said Stacey Smith, Rockmart’s director of community development. “He was my mentor when I started work here. I consider him more than a co-worker. He is a friend.”
The city will host a retirement walk through social for Hughes from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 26, in the Council Chambers of the Rockmart Administrative Building on Piedmont Avenue.