Milton Edwards – Employee Spotlight

Title: Vehicle Operator
Department: Lenoir County Transportation
Started working with Lenoir County: Spring 2018

How would you describe the transportation department to someone who is not familiar with what the department does?
Lenoir County Transit provides rides for people that do not have their own transportation. If you call our hotline in advance, we will take you basically anywhere you need to go in the County for only $5, which I think is a reasonable price for safe and reliable transportation. We have some routes that take people to their work so that they can make money and can take care of their own families, and we also make a lot of medical trips to take people to doctor’s appointments so that they can get the treatment they need. We make any sort of trip, though, so people also use us to get to Walmart or the grocery store sometimes. Our morning routes start at around 4 a.m. and we keep the shuttles going till about 6 p.m.

What does a typical shift look like for you?
I’m on the morning shift. So, I come in around 3:30 in the morning to do vehicle inspections. I check the fire extinguishers, and make sure that everything in the vehicle is safe before I begin driving my route at 4 a.m. Mostly, I am carrying people to dialysis appointments and medical visits or to work in the county. It usually takes about 6 hours to complete all my drop-offs, so by 10:00 am I will have finished driving for the morning. After my shift, I sometimes drop off trucks to be serviced or other tasks, but that part of my shift is less busy. Since I start so early, I finish work early too, which I like.

If you are regularly driving the same route, do you end up driving the same people most days?
Most shifts are usually the same people on their routine, but you know there will sometimes be someone new who needs help getting places. So, I’m expecting to see certain people on Tuesday mornings, and then I want to make sure they get to work on time. Or for the people that are going to the doctor for dialysis, I want to make sure that they are making their appointments and that they are doing okay health wise. I have built connections with the passengers as I transport them.

What are some of the benefits of working with Lenoir County?
The managers here are good! They are not going to schedule me 30 hours one week and then 70 hours the next. I know my schedule is going to be pretty consistent. I like the morning route, so they make sure to schedule me for the mornings consistently. I feel like the County is considerate of my preferences which I like and there’s a stability to working here. I know my paycheck is coming on time, and that it’s going to be the right amount. I like the certainty that I get working for Lenoir County.

Do you have opportunities to give feedback in the transportation department?
Yeah. I’m in close contact with the vehicle dispatchers. We can tell them if the vans are starting to get a little too crowded or have a few too many people in them during a route. The dispatchers will hear that and send another driver to help accommodate the remainder of the route. The dispatchers are really listening to what us drivers are seeing to make sure the ride is a good experience.

There are also safety criteria for the roads we drive. So, if my route takes me to, for example, an unpaved road that’s in poor condition. I can report that back to the department and they will send a safety manager to check out the road and if it is unsafe, we won’t drive through that section anymore.

And they will also give us feedback. They give out an outstanding driver of the year award to one vehicle operator each year, and they’ll let us know if we are not performing too. So, it’s honest feedback both ways.

What advice would you give to an incoming Vehicle Operator?
I would just tell them to communicate with the people that they drive, give a little consideration to your passengers and treat them with respect. If you do that, you’ll build a relationship where everyone treats each other with respect like a family does.

How does your work embody the culture of “serving communities, building careers”?
I serve the community by getting people to work. Once they have gotten to that job, they can build themselves a career. For me, this is a part time job before I fully retire. But for young people just getting to their workplace is the necessary first step towards a career. I’m serving by helping these people get good jobs and become professionals.

If a friend said they were considering working for Lenoir County, what would you tell them?
I would tell them it’s a good place to work. Lenoir County has good benefits for full-time employees. I have worked a lot of places and I can confidently say that this is one of the better jobs I have had, and one of the better organizations that I’ve worked for. Come to Lenoir County!