He was a snowplow driver, grass cutter, firefighter, village employee and, when he had time, the Director of Public Works in Elm Grove. Michael Flaherty doesn't just wear many hats, he has a closet full.
After more than seven years in his position, Flaherty will start a business in Florida where he'll have to get use to the type of summers we've had in Wisconsin in 2012.
"It was a difficult decision, just because I've been here so long," Flaherty said, having worked with the village for more than 20 years as a laborer and a foreman as well.
"The people I work with really made my job a lot easier."
Elm Grove, though, will have to replace an employee who village officials say went above and beyond.
"On the one hand he's the head of the department," Village President Neil Palmer explained. "On the other hand, earlier this summer he was mowing the lawn because one of the employees was sick."
Staffing shortages and tight budgets forced Flaherty into the kind of manual labor administrators usually escape.
"Frankly, there are a lot of times that when the residents come into contact with Mike, it's a difficult situation," Palmer said. "It might flooding, a big storm, and they're looking for his help, the village's help.
"I just hope many of them appreciate the hard work he did."
Former trustee Jan Schoenecker was on the Village Board for all of Flaherty's tenure with the village until she decided not to run in the most recent election.
"I don't think there is anyone in this village that knows every square inch as well as Mike," Schoenecker said, a high compliment from a woman whose family has been in Elm Grove for generations.
"With that knowledge along with his history here you could always get answers perhaps no one else could answer from him.
"It was a fun pleasure working with him even if he wouldn't let me drive the Bobcat."
Flaherty's last day will be Aug. 10.
The village already has begun the search for his replacement.
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