There are only about two other employees who have a history as far back and as deeply-rooted with Dalton Public Schools as Winston Chambers. After 44-and-a-half years with the maintenance department, Chambers is retiring at the end of 2017.
"My first day was May 30, 1973 when I was 19 years old," said Chambers. "It's easy to keep track of because that's the year I got married."
A little known fact is that both of Chambers' parents worked for the district, as well. His father was a plumber and his mother was a custodian at the old Morris Street School. Chambers said during the summers he would ride along and help his dad.
"They couldn't pay me that young, but they would give me a new pair of tennis shoes each year," he said. "So even then I was working for Dalton Public Schools – I was doing it for the shoes!"
Chambers says this is the only life he has known. He has done every job possible from carpentry to electric to mowing the grass. And through it all, he has archived more memories with the district than most.
"My favorite memory happened at Park Creek," he explained. "They called cause they said they had a sick animal outside and they was scared to let the kids out near it. So, I get in my pickup truck and head over. The opossum had gotten into a neighbor's trash and had Skittles candies stuck all over it! I picked the poor feller up and dropped him off in the woods. He was just sick from the Skittles, that was all."
Chambers has a plethora of fond memories like that one, but it's the people that he will miss the most. His relationship with Interim Superintendent Don Amonett goes back to being teenagers working together at Maryland's Fried Chicken. "Don always talked about his dream of being a principal. Well I guess he did that and more!" he said.
Most know Chambers for his positive, can-do attitude. Amonett said although Chambers was often times in a leadership position, he was always someone who helped solve the problem rather than direct people around. "I can honestly say in the 40+ years I've worked with Winston, he has the highest level of integrity and work ethic that I've ever known," he said. "I've never known him to meet any task that he doesn't jump right in to accomplish or get solved."
Other close friends are Joe Holbrook, a "nut he likes to cut up with," and Willy Whiteside. "I got Willy his job here in 1975. I went over to his house and his feet were up on his porch, so I said, 'do you want a job?' He said, 'yeah I guess so.'" Chambers considers the years he and Whiteside got to work on the grounds crew together among his most cherished ones.
Although he'll miss the people and the daily excitement of his tasks for the day, Chambers is looking forward to the second chapter of his life in retirement – woodworking in his shop and spending time with his friend, Cecil, fishing on Carter's Lake.
Chambers said he is thankful for his great bosses over the years, like Herman Swaim and now Rusty Lount. He has enjoyed watching the district grow-- tearing down buildings and putting up new ones. He has loved watching the students come and go."Would I do it over again? Oh yeah," he said. "I've really enjoyed it."