The United States Postal Service has a saying that come rain or shine they always deliver. The same could be said of Richie Simmons, Maintenance Director for Sedalia School District 200.
“Richie is the one we go to who always gets everything we ask for done and then some,” said Steve Triplett, Assistant Superintendent for building and grounds and transportation. “You always know when you ask Richie to do something it will be done and done right.”
Simons, who is a very humble man, does not see it quite that way.
“I think we just come to work and me and the crew just do our jobs,” Simons said. “We try to do more than what is expected and I work with some very talented men and women, but what really it comes down to is doing what we are asked to do.”
Simons has been doing that for the district for the past 25 years.
Hired Nov. 2, 1990, Simons was just 18 years old when he began working for the school district.
“It’s really kind of funny how I got hired here,” Simons said. “My dad was a custodian in the district for over 30 years. One day the head of maintenance said to him, ‘What’s that son of yours doing?’
“Well, I was looking for a job,” Simons said with a smile. “They called me for an interview and I’ve been here ever since.”
Hired as a part-time custodian at Skyline Elementary, which had just opened, Simons has worked his way up the line and now oversees a staff of 60 employees.
“I really have done a little bit of everything here,” Simons said. “I can also say I have worked in every building in the district in some manner.”
Simons is very quick to credit the work of his crew, especially his Maintenance Assistant Director Earl Rasa and Janitorial Supervisor Tony Neth.
“I work with very high-quality individuals,” Simons said. “I have been so very fortunate to work with them daily and watch them do what they do; we really are our own little construction crew.”
Some of his employees are former plumbers, electricians, carpenters, dry-wallers and heavy equipment workers, along with other occupations.
“I think all of them are experts in something, but they are all willing to pitch in to make sure the job gets done,” he added. “We really do strive to put the district on the map with our facilities.”
Simons pointed out that what many individuals may not consider is that some of the facilities in the district are 80 or even 100 years old, as is Smith-Cotton Junior High.
“I think the best part of my work is that it is always something different,” Simons said. “No two days are alike and no matter what we do it is always appreciated by someone and we are always trying to benefit the place.”
Each day is different for Simons and his crew and although he thinks often of some of the bigger projects the employees have completed, such as Smith-Cotton Stadium and projects Smith-Cotton High School, it is the often over-looked things that are equally important to him.
“I can’t tell you the number of hours I’ve spent behind the wheel of my truck pushing snow to clear the parking lots,” Simons said. “It really doesn’t matter if the decision is made to cancel school or not, the snow has to be moved off the lots for when we are back at school.
“There are a lot of mornings when I get an early call that something needs attention, and that’s OK,” he added.
Simons said he appreciates the simple down time he has when not at work.
“My wife always has a pretty good honey-do list for me,” Simons said laughing. “And, I always try to get that done.
“It really doesn’t matter what’s asked,” Simons added. “I do what is asked and I do it with a sense of pride, because it is what is expected and what I am supposed to do.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484