Prentiss Kimball recently retired as Waterford's plumbing inspector after 57 years. Read the story about his career from Mutiny Brook Times here.
Prentiss Kimball, who until his recent retirement was Waterford's Plumbing Inspector since 1965!
|Prentiss Kimball, 82, is shown stacking wood for his outdoor furnace. The retired carpenter has served as Waterford's plumbing inspector for the past 47 years.|
Published Jan. 28, 2013
Prentiss Kimball, plumbing inspector for the ages
Prentiss Kimball has been overseeing Waterford’s plumbing needs for nearly half a century and he has no plans to slow down.
For the past 47 years, Waterford homeowners needing a new septic system, an updated leach field or upgraded internal plumbing have turned to Mutiny Corner’s tireless worker for guidance.
In 1965, Bud Hamlin (Walter K. Jr.) held the position but his Hamlin Oil & Electric business was growing rapidly.
“He said he was busier than the devil and asked me if I wanted the job,” Prentiss recalls, noting that he didn’t really know a lot about plumbing at the time. He said Bud told him he would help him with the basics.
“I was pretty busy, too, but I thought I’d try it,” Prentiss said. He had just started his own building business after working several years for Roy Meserve of Casco.
“There wasn’t much going on in those days, a few septic systems and internal plumbing permits,” Prentiss said.
“Things were pretty lenient back then and people pretty much did what they wanted to,” he said with a youthful smile that belies his age.
It wasn’t long before the state began requiring inspectors to attend training for internal as well as external plumbing. He remembers well the anxiety he experienced when he began his schooling.
“I studied all winter harder than a son-of-a-gun, I remember, and then took the test. I got a B+ and they said that I did real good ‘cause there weren’t many passing all over the state,” he said. “I was pretty worried about it...but after that I
was certified and I felt pretty good.”
All the money for the permits used to go to the state. As was the practice in those days, Prentiss recalls regularly taking his paperwork over to Town Clerk Alice Howe, who operated the clerk’s office at her house. Today, he keeps 75% and sends the rest to Augusta, including a new $15 environmental fee.
It wasn’t long before the seventies ushered in a new wave of environmental laws, the creation of Department of Environmental Protection and increased paperwork for inspectors.
As certification became the rule rather than the exception, other communities wanted to hire Prentiss. Albany was first followed by surrounding townships and then Sweden, Stoneham and Lovell. He has also filled in for Norway, Harrison, Fryeburg, Stow and several others towns as the need has arisen or other inspectors have needed backup.
“I would try to work it in in my spare time — noontime, after work or on weekends,” he said.
Today, Prentiss still handles inspections in Stoneham and Sweden as well as Waterford. He also keeps up with his schooling and certifications.
While most his age are retired, Prentiss says he doesn’t have time for retirement. He still keeps busy remodeling for folks. When he’s not hiring out, he’s working on his woodpile for his outdoor furnace, puttering in his workshop, riding on his tractor and in the spring, boiling down maple sap. He serves as treasurer of the Bear Mt. Grange, of which he has been a member most of his life, and Chaplain of the Mt. Tire’m Lodge, where he has belonged for more than 50 years.