CROTHERSVILLE — Each year, Alliance of Indiana Rural Water accepts nominations for awards to hand out at the annual spring conference.
It’s a way to recognize the best of the best in the water and wastewater industry.
This year’s categories were Administrative Professional of the Year, Water Systems Operations Specialist of the Year, Wastewater Systems Operations Specialist of the Year, President’s Choice Award, Associate Member of the Year and Manager of the Year.
The latter award went to a Jackson County resident.
Crothersville Utility Director Mason Boicourt was presented the award that recognizes an office manager, a distribution system manager, a water treatment plant manager, a wastewater treatment plant manager, etc. for outstanding performance in managing a rural water or wastewater system.
While he has attended the conference many times over the years, Boicourt said he had never been to the awards luncheon. Chris Mains, water superintendent for Crothersville, told Boicourt they needed to attend to support another local operator who was receiving an award, so Boicourt went along with it.
“I found out I was getting the award the minute my name was called. I had no idea,” Boicourt said. “I was also surprised that there was a whole table of family, friends and coworkers who were also there. I hadn’t even noticed them at the front of the room.”
Boicourt said it was all a great surprise, and he was very shocked.
“Chris had joked in the past that he would nominate me for an award, but I really thought he was joking around,” he said. “I just never guessed that I would ever be considered for something like this. It’s truly an honor and something that I would have never imagined.”
In the nomination letter, Mains said Boicourt is responsible for every aspect of the water, wastewater and street departments for the town.
“He is the main contact and go-between for the utility employees and the town board,” Mains wrote. “Mason goes above and beyond working for the utility. He not only deals with the board, but he is also very hands-on in fixing water mains, sewer mains, pushing snow and dealing with contractors and state representatives.”
Eligible nominees for the annual state awards must be affiliated with a system member in good standing.
Franklin-based Alliance of Indiana Rural Water is a nonprofit membership association of more than 800 water and wastewater systems and related professionals and is Indiana’s only representative to the National Rural Water Association, according to inh2o.org. NRWA is the nation’s largest utility association with 31,000 members.
The state association’s annual spring conference is attended by hundreds of people. It allows members to network with vendors, engineers, grant administrators and others to get ideas on new and innovative ways to do their jobs and also get their continuing education units for water and wastewater treatment licenses.
“We are required to have a certain amount of hours every license cycle specific to each license,” Boicourt said. “This is also a very good time to network with other operators and staff of other facilities to develop relationships for mutual aid when we need it. There are many towns around us who have offered help in many different ways over the years.”
Boicourt said he began working for the town in 2003 while he was a student at Crothersville High School. His jobs included mowing grass, painting curbs, cleaning streets, painting fire hydrants, reading water meters and helping with water leaks.
“As the full-timers got more comfortable with me, they began to use me around the water and wastewater treatment plants doing various jobs, which is where I first got interested in the water and wastewater industry,” Boicourt said.
In November 2006, he decided to make a career out of it after graduating.
“I decided that I was ready to pursue a trade of some kind rather than going to college, and water and wastewater was very interesting to me, so I decided to give it a try,” he said. “From 2006 to 2009, I obtained the state licenses required to run the wastewater facility at Crothersville and became the certified operator for the town.”
He remained there until August 2009 when he went to work for Seymour’s wastewater treatment plant.
“I decided to venture out and get some more experience at a larger facility, where I did so at Seymour for roughly a year and a half,” Boicourt said.
In April 2011, he returned to Crothersville and has been there ever since.
“When I returned to Crothersville, we underwent a major rehabilitation project at the sewer plant to address some issues that had been plaguing the facility for years along with some combined sewer overflow work that the state was requiring of the town,” he said.
Shortly after returning, he was asked if he could also get his water treatment certifications so the town would have a certified operator on staff to be the operator of record for that facility, too.
“I was able to get that license, as well, and become the certified operator for the water treatment plant,” he said. “Since then, I have tried my very best to do whatever the town needs me to be, leading to them asking me if I would be interested in becoming the utility director in 2020. They wanted someone who could attend meetings and be the main contact for anything field-related.”
Working for a small town, Boicourt said you have to wear many hats, and that is one of the best things about his job.
“I have worked here for well over a decade, and some of the things we do is a daily responsibility, but there are times when we get to do things that we don’t do very often or things we have never done before,” he said. “It keeps things exciting and helps me and my crew work on solving a problem that we wouldn’t normally tackle.”
He said he can’t begin to list the odd jobs they have done as employees of the town.
“If it isn’t office- or police-related, we’re the ones getting it done,” Boicourt said. “There are five of us on the utility crew, and I can count on all of them to do whatever is needed. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. They sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve, and a lot of their job goes unnoticed.”
While he doesn’t do his job to get an award, Boicourt said it was nice someone thought enough of him to submit a nomination.
“I can’t speak for everyone, but I work to earn a living and provide for my family. That’s my main objective, but at the same time, I enjoy coming to work,” he said.
“Whatever I’m able to accomplish during my workday is just an added bonus to how I feel about the day as a whole. I like to put as much effort into my work as I do at home. My guys would call it OCD,” he said. “I never expected to get an award for just doing my job, but putting in the extra effort apparently doesn’t go unnoticed.”