June 17, 2013 10:08:34 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
Some know him as a mainstay at Columbus' public works department, which he now leads on an interim basis. Some know him as a minister of Greater Mt. Zion Church, where he has led the congregation since 2008. In either case, leading is something Casey Bush has a great deal of experience with, something he says it's only possible through his faith.
Except for a two-year stint in Canton, where he worked at the Nissan production plant from 2004-06 and Metal USA in Columbus for a short time, the 46-year-old Columbus native has been with public works since 1991.
While the direct correlation between his faith and maintenance of the city's infrastructure isn't obvious on the surface, Bush says prayer and faith are crucial in his everyday life.
"This can get to be a very stressful job, if you allow it to get to you, so it is great to have faith in a God that can comfort you, someone that you can talk to for guidance. I like meditating in the mornings before I come and because we're faced with all kinds of stuff when you get here to public works," Bush said. "You've got to have faith in God, and that's the way I've always taken on any job that I've been on. I really rely on my faith now more than ever, I would say."
In his role, Bush oversees the rubbish landfill, street and ditch repairs, drainage improvements and other various maintenance duties. Taking care of the public needs of Columbus' residents is a job Bush said he takes great pride in, and his favorite part of the job is being with his employees.
"I have a great group of guys that work for me," he said. "I would say the fun part of it is working with the guys. And getting up every day and looking forward to the next challenge."
One of the biggest among those challenges is making improvements to the drainage system, which he said are much needed.
"With our drainage, when we get a good downpour of three to four inches of rain, we're backed up in some areas of town, and I'm actively trying to work on that as far as re-piping," he said. "I'm budgeting right now for us to get a washing machine to clean out the pipes, which would help us tremendously."
He came to his current position last month after the sudden passing of his colleague, former public works director Mike Pratt. Bush said he also relied on faith to come to terms with the loss of who he said was a fine leader and friend.
Pratt died unexpectedly on Saturday, April 27.
"I couldn't believe it. I had spoken to him that Friday. And the relationship we had was great. We worked well together," Bush said. "Any time you're dealing with someone five days or four days a week, 10 hours a day, you're not going to agree on everything, but overall we agreed on a lot and wanted to try to take the city forward and the public works department forward. "
Settling in at his new role hasn't been that difficult to do, Bush said, in part through working so closely with Pratt.
"It's not that much of a transition. And the reason me and Mike had a close relationship as far as work-wise is because if he had something for me to handle, I knew about it. So the transition is a lot smoother than someone else that really doesn't know about the department," he said. "The only thing I do regret is that (Pratt is) gone. That's very unfortunate."
Bush, a 1988 graduate of Caldwell High School, said another key to his success is his ability to work easily with others.
"I'm a people person, and I believe that I always treat people the way I want to be treated regardless of the situation," he said. "It carried me a long way as far as communicating with people."
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.