Keith Roberts grew up working in his father’s grocery store, which he owned and operated in downtown Waxahachie for over 30 years. He never imagined that he would one day be working across the street in the Ellis County Historic Courthouse.
“I would have never dreamed when I was a kid looking across the street that would be there for me,” Roberts expressed.
Roberts has worked in the maintenance department for 20 years, and he just finished his 17th year as the building maintenance director. He was recognized for his years of service at the commissioners’ court meeting Wednesday by Ellis County Judge Todd Little.
“20 years is a big deal,” Little remarked. “In today’s day and age, it’s not common that we find employees that have served to any company, any corporation, any county for as long as Roberts has.”
Roberts started working with the county as a custodian on March 8, 1999. Roberts said he was with the county for two years before the former building maintenance director, Butch Nelson, retired.
“I’m technically on a 24/7 call,” Roberts remarked. “I’ve got eight buildings and eight people. I’ve got a mechanical tech that helps me with my stuff, and the rest are custodians.”
As building maintenance director, Roberts oversees several buildings within the county, including the Historic Courthouse, the probation buildings and the elections building. His responsibilities range from A/C maintenance to electrical work to cleanup duties.
“It’s just a lot of different things that I do,” Roberts expressed. “I take care of all the air condition settings, I oil and grease the clock - I make adjustments whenever they’re needed.”
One of Roberts’ favorite things to do is to take residents on tours through the Historic Courthouse. He occupied the building when he was a child before the Courthouse was restored in 2002, and he likes seeing the look on people’s faces whenever they learn obscure facts from the courthouse’s early days.
“I remember we used to ride the elevator when I was a kid,” he recalled. “There wasn’t much to do back in those days. They always seemed shocked that there was actually an elevator in that center section of the building. All of that is original.”
Roberts said maintenance is a mostly underappreciated job, but it’s one where he enjoys managing the county's day-to-day operations.
“I tell some people working in maintenance is like being an offensive lineman in the NFL - when you do your job well, nobody really notices,” he expressed. “I like to be a low-key, under-the-radar kind of a guy.”
Despite the low-key nature of the job, Roberts appreciates the small moments where his department is recognized for their hard work. Roberts said he’s grateful for the people that he works with and he’s grateful to be a part of Ellis County.
“When people need bulbs replaced or something done, you just need to get it done,” he stated. “When I retire someday, it may sink in more than what a privilege it was just to be able to work here all these years.”