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home : current news : current news June 24, 2016

9/17/2013 1:15:00 PM
Bentz finds her niche with city job
Robin Bentz is Sisters Public Works’ resident “green thumb,” along with her many other jobs. photo by Jim Cornelius
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Robin Bentz is Sisters Public Works’ resident “green thumb,” along with her many other jobs. photo by Jim Cornelius

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

For more than seven years, Robin Bentz has been instrumental in making Sisters' public spaces beautiful.

"She's our botanist," says City Manager Andrew Gorayeb. "She cares more about the trees and plants than anybody on the staff. Robin's got a substantial green thumb."

Perhaps it was her upbringing in the deserts of Las Vegas, Nevada, that fed Bentz' desire to see things flower.

"I love to see things grow, I really do," she said. She recalled that her grandparents made the desert bloom.

"They grew everything they ate," she said. "The whole side of the house was flowers."

Of course "botanist" isn't really a job title with the City of Sisters Public Works Department. Bentz is a Utility Technician 1, and like all her fellow public works employees, she does a lot of everything.

"We all do pretty much everything," she said. "The other day I was running a hot-saw cutting pavement."

The diversity of work appeals to her just as the diversity of culture drew her to Sisters some 23 years ago.

"That was one of the things I loved most when I first came to Sisters - the diversity of personalities," she recalled.

She loved the fact that a logger could be found having an animated conversation with a doctor at Yukon Jacks (a long-gone and much-lamented watering hole on Cascade Avenue).

Like many folks who have to earn a living in Sisters, Bentz once worked a mind-boggling combination of jobs to make ends meet. She waited tables, drove a school bus, served as a teacher's aide and worked in the school kitchen.

Drawn by the prospect of a single 40-hours-a-week job, she applied for a position driving a city garbage collection truck. She didn't get that job, but then-public-works director Gary Frazee encouraged her to apply for an upcoming slot on the staff. She got the job and has loved it ever since.

While it's nice to have "one good job," it keeps her hopping. Not only are there a variety of jobs, including her responsibility for keeping up with the lab testing on the city's water, there are multiple trainings and certifications to pursue.

"I'm learning all the time," she said. "Still learning. Which is one of the things that's really nice."

She's especially proud of the work on Creekside Park, which she says is her favorite among Sisters' parks.

She considers the biggest challenge of the job to be simply keeping up with everything that needs to be done.

One of the most important perks of the job is the camaraderie that comes from working hard with a small group of people to accomplish specific projects.

"We're a small group," she said. "So you get to be like family with the people you work with."

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