SAGLE — Those in the Southside Water and Sewer District most likely know Doug Bopp. In fact, as he has lived in the area his entire life, residents not served by SWSD are likely to know him as well.
Bopp recently retired from his SWSD career, which began in the fall of 1984. There was vacancy on the board of directors at the time, Bopp said, and Bill Bennett, the operator at the time, convinced him to join. The first board meeting that he went to, he was appointed as Bennett's backup.
"When he retired, I took over for him," Bopp said. "That was in May of 2005 ... Bill and I have been the only operators for Southside since it started in 1974."
Although he is retired, he is training the district's third operator, Brad White, who has been working with Bopp for about nine months. Julie MacDonald, SWSD secretary and treasurer, said the snow storm and power outage in December was a perfect 24-hour training opportunity for White to see the challenges he will face in this district.
On Tuesday, MacDonald said, a customer came into the office to say how appreciated Bopp has been over the years.
"In addition to regular maintenance, they frequently see him out working the district at all hours of the night and, as you can imagine, not in the greatest of conditions," she said. "He is a hard worker and very dedicated to the district."
Bopp has three children and two step-children, most of whom still live in the area. He is also about to become a grandfather for the eighth time, he said. Bopp's father was originally from Sandpoint as well, and was the oldest of eight children. During a recent family gathering, he said, he and his children started talking about how many generations of Bopps were born at Bonner General Health, formerly Bonner General Hospital. Bopp said it looked a bit different when he was born there from what it looks like now, but it was on the same piece of real estate on the banks of Sand Creek.
As far as retirement, Bopp said he doesn't have a bucket list. As busy as he has been for the past 33 years, he has a five-gallon bucket full of lists, he said. But first and foremost, he plans to spend time with family.
"That is the main thing, is to be a family man and get all the stuff done I should have been doing all these years that I never had time for because I had my Southside family," he said. "But it was all rewarding. They really are my family, all those people over there. It is amazing how you get to know people when they depend on you for water and sewer."
A gathering to celebrate Bopp's years with the district and wish him well in his retirement is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. Friday in the Pend d'Oreille Winery, 301 Cedar St.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.