Utility Manager Brian Berthelot retires after 30 years of parish service
When Brian Berthelot graduated from Plaquemine High School in 1984, he had no intention of going to college. In fact, the then-18-year-old Bayou Pigeon native had no real post-high school plans.
His mother did, however.
“She took me around to a lot of different places to put in applications, and one of them happened to be Iberville Parish,” Berthelot said.
He was hired as a worker in the parish’s Department of Public Works.
Fast-forward 30 years: Berthelot, now 48, will retire on April 8, having risen to the position of parish utility manager.
“I tried talking him out of retiring,” Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso said. “He’s taking a lot of knowledge away with him.”
Berthelot said he started in DPW doing “a little bit of everything”: driving tractors, weed spraying and even hunting beavers.
Chief Administrative Officer Edward “Lucky” Songy said Berthelot was a long-haired, tight-lipped young man who barely spoke two words to anyone during his early years with the parish.
“Now I call him ‘loose lips’ because you can’t get him to shut up,” Songy quipped. “I don’t think he has ever had a cross word with anyone. … He has always just stepped up to the plate and did whatever you asked of him.”
In 2000, Ourso tapped Berthelot to head the utility department.
During his 14 years of supervision over the department’s more than 20 employees, Berthelot said, his biggest challenges have been hurricanes and handling employee discipline.
“During hurricanes Katrina and Gustav, I’d have to camp out here to take care of any issues that came up,” Berthelot said. “I’m tired of fighting hurricanes.”
Berthelot’s departure will now give him the ability to work full time on his start-up business, Double B Lawn Service.
Berthelot spent the last year cutting grass and manicuring the lawns for about 30 clients on a part-time basis.
“There’s no retirement; I still have gas in the tank,” he said. “This is an opportunity for me to have the freedom to work my own schedule, set my own hours. Now it’s just going to be me and my lawn mower.”