After 38 years of employment with the city of Aurora, street department head Steve Woods announced his retirement last week.

Woods, who was presented with a plaque of appreciation last Thursday, has been an integral part of the Aurora community and the city's beautification efforts.

According to city councilwoman Dawn Oplinger, Woods has played a vital role for Main Street for many years, helping to organize and install Christmas decorations and Fourth of July downtown. In addition, he and his crew worked overtime in the winter to remove snow from the city's roadways.

"He had a true passion for Aurora and wanted to make Aurora a better place to live and work," said Oplinger. "Steve Woods has been a valued city of Aurora employee and his shoes will be very hard to fill."

Woods, who has spent most of his life in Aurora, made his commitment to the community evident to all who knew him.

"I could almost set my clock by seasonal calls from Steve as he wanted to alert the community to the work going on in his department. Late spring brought calls about spraying for mosquitoes. In late summer, it was about what streets were being paved and which ones might have to wait until next time," said former Aurora Advertiser general manager Judy Dingman. "In between, there were calls about sidewalk construction, repairs to the storm drainage system or striping of parking places and crosswalks. Some mornings I would arrive at work to see Steve and his crew installing American flags or holiday decorations along Olive Street.

"I soon learned to be prepared when I went to his work sites and not wear my Sunday-best as I tap danced through the trail of fresh asphalt, dirt or mud," Dingman added with a chuckle. "He also has a wealth of knowledge about the history of Aurora and was a good source to tap as I researched something in the city's past."

There has been no word yet as to who will fill Woods's vacated role as head of the department.

Additional comments by those who have worked with Woods:

"I have known and worked with Steve for over 25 years. He has always been the go to person for general knowledge about the City of Aurora and is leaving with a wealth of knowledge that can only be gained over a span of time. I count him a true friend and will miss him greatly but wish him much happiness in his retirement." -- Betty Baum "Well I may have a biased opinion as his wife of 6 1/2 years but I love the man! Most people think of him as rough and gruff but he has a softer side (believe it or not). As far as the 14 years that I have been with the city and worked with him, he was fair with his employees, made the best decisions he could for the city and the citizens and his knowledge is irreplaceable. He has the mind of a steel trap and remembers everything in the city's past history that has saved the city on numerous occasions. He will be missed but he’ll be around!" -- Sherri Woods "Steve was a great team member and a friend. It's rare to have both in one person." -- Robert Ward "Steve Woods was a great boss who was so easy to work for. He never had to remind you that he was the boss with his words, because he did it with his actions and also he was great about putting himself on our level. I will also miss all the cutting up and the things he did and said that kept us rolling with laughter each day." -- Justin James