City’s Charles Egbert retires, will spend time fueling his passion for birds, outdoors and photography

Published 7:30 am Friday, March 5, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- With nearly 35 years on the job, Charlie Egbert knew the ins and outs of the Niles wastewater treatment plant like no one else.
As the plant's chief operator, he was responsible for running the daily operations of the plant and making sure it was operating within the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's requirements.
Benish said Egbert's knowledge, experience and dedication to his job made him a great employee.
James Lehmkuhl, manager of the City of Niles Utilities Department, agreed that Egbert was an important asset to the city.
If the plant needs some consulting in the future or if there is a major problem, Egbert would be more than happy to lend a hand.
Egbert, 65, said it was just the right time for him to retire. He will miss the challenges of work, but looks forward to his new life.
His new found leisure time will give him the opportunity to work on his house and to spend more time outdoors, one of Egbert's passions in life.
He is an avid birdwatcher and loves camping, hunting and fishing, as well.
On Thursday, Egbert spent a day at Dowagiac Creek with his fishing pole, a camera and some binoculars.
He said there a number of nature preserves in the area, which, unfortunately, don't get the use they deserve.
He said while many birdwatchers keep a "lifetime list" of all the birds they spot, he prefers to takes photographs of the birds he sees.
Egbert said he is always prepared for a bird watching excursion, no matter what the circumstances.
Photography has been an interest of Egbert's for more than 50 years and he even did some freelance work for the Niles Daily Star in the mid-1950s.
He has more than five cameras he uses for bird photography and plans on buying his first digital camera this weekend.
He prefers film cameras, but thinks a digital camera will come in handy when he wants to review some pictures in the middle of a camping trip.
Egbert takes annual camping trips to Everglades National Park in Florida.
He just got back from a week long trip in late February and came back with some postcard quality shots of blue herons, ospreys, and a handful of other birds.
Egbert is enjoying the newfound freedom of retirement and plans to stay at his home in Niles.