After 22 years of work for the Seymour Department of Public Works, the city employee commonly referred to as the “flower engineer” celebrated her retirement and last day of work May 14.
Laura Eglen handled the downtown maintenance for the DPW and could always be seen beautifying the area with flowers, blowing the sidewalks free of dirt and other debris and even clearing sewer grates at times.
While she was known for her green thumb, DPW Director Chad Dixon said in her years of work, Eglen did “a little bit of everything,” whether that was leaf removal, building maintenance or cleaning storm drains.
“You couldn’t ask for a better person for the job. It takes a special kind of person to deal with all of it,” he said.
Dixon praised Eglen for her work ethic and the positivity she brings to everyone around her.
“She’s always upbeat,” he said. “She’s always happy. If there’s a problem, she always has a solution.”
Her retirement party included food, drinks, cake and gifts during lunch hour with co-workers and others at the DPW garage.
Mayor Matt Nicholson made an appearance to congratulate Eglen on her retirement and proclaimed May 14, 2021, as Laura Eglen Day. She was gifted a yellow shirt that said “Flower Engineer” from him.
Nicholson shared a story about how before becoming mayor, he was trying to find out how to hang red banners downtown for Red Ribbon Week, a drug awareness and prevention campaign observed in October.
Nicholson asked the mayor and DPW director at the time about how to go about putting red banners up until he found a solution when talking to Eglen downtown.
After asking her for some advice, Eglen offered to use her sewing room at work to make red banners to put up downtown.
“At that point, I learned that you have to talk to the right person to get something done,” he said. “Everybody wants to jump to the mayor or the DPW director and say, ‘Hey, we need this.’ And that’s great, but you’ve got to know who to ask.”
The mayor’s proclamation described Eglen as being instrumental in adding flowerpots to the downtown, beautifying the green space at the corner of Tipton and O’Brien streets and other green spaces and lending a hand when needed.
“She is one of the most humble yet helpful humans and will be greatly missed as Seymour’s flower engineer,” Nicholson said.
Eglen, who lives in Brownstown, said the thing she will miss the most about her job is the people she has met and worked with downtown.
“You get to know some of them,” she said. “You kind of become good friends. (Artistic Impressions owner) Kevin Greene always sweeps off his sidewalk every morning. You get to know their routines.”
She said she’s grateful to have worked in downtown Seymour for so long.
“I just feel like I’ve really been blessed to be allowed to go down there and work all of these years,” she said.
While Eglen is retiring, she plans on joining the DPW’s seasonal mowing crew in the future.
City employee Marc Stephens will succeed Eglen in her downtown maintenance duties.
He said she was the only city worker that he recognized before he started his 15-year career with DPW because she could always be seen downtown.
“She really takes pride in what she does, and people recognize it, too, downtown,” Stephens said. “Today was her last day and people were coming out and giving her cards and telling her thank you. It has been an honor working with her.”
Co-worker Pete Bowyer said Eglen is going to be missed at DPW because of her optimistic personality.
“I could come in at lunch and be kind of having a bad day and she could bring you out of it,” he said.
Bonnye Good, a former DPW director, said she always enjoyed working with Eglen and she was very fun to have as a staff member.
“She has so much energy and always has that smile,” she said. “Any time you needed anything, it didn’t matter what department or whatever. She was always there to help.”