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The incredible story of 50-year TRWD employee Banty Blair

By March 20, 2024

At age 76, TRWD employee Banty Blair still believes that a full day’s work does a body good.

When his shift is over at the water district, Banty heads home to his 51-acre ranch near Azle to have dinner, feed the cows and manage other chores that sometimes take him up until 10 p.m. Four mornings a week, he’s back at TRWD before 7 a.m., ready to start the day. Banty works a schedule of 10-hour days each Tuesday through Friday.

Banty celebrates his 50-year anniversary with TRWD in March 2024. He retired once – taking time to travel the country with his wife, remodeling his house and spending time with his son in Florida – before deciding to return to the place where he had enjoyed working for so long.

Banty has many longtime friends, as well as new coworkers, who make the days worthwhile at TRWD. He first joined the water district in 1968, mowing and operating small tractors along a 52-mile span at Eagle Mountain Lake, before the Cedar Creek and Richland-Chambers pipelines were built.

For 24 years, Banty operated heavy equipment and was involved in maintenance and flood protection projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. An opportunity came up to try out a D7 bulldozer, clearing bricks, rocks and brush around the lake, and Banty jumped at the chance to take on this new challenge. He really enjoys being outside with an important task ahead of him and an active mind to keep him company.

When Banty retired from a field operations supervisor position in 2008 after a long and interesting career, he had no idea that he would want to return to TRWD five years later. Part of his decision had to do with the economy, but a larger part was that he had enjoyed enough retirement time to realize he wanted to get back to work.

“I also missed my friends. I’ve always wanted to learn new things, and the water district helped me do that. It’s a great place to work – that’s why I stayed here so long and then came back. I especially appreciate the way TRWD treats its people,” he says.

Banty’s wife, Dianne, was surprised when she found him checking out an employment ad in the Azle newspaper that would take him back to the water district. He applied and returned “home” in no time.

“I wouldn’t change a thing about that decision. I like to work, and the employees here are people you can count on,” Banty says. “I never want to quit.”

Banty and Dianne have been married for 58 years. They have six grown children, 12 grandkids, 2 great grandchildren and another on the way.

“At my age, I feel like I can’t go into an antiques store because they might try to sell me. Everybody here calls me Moses,” he laughs.

Banty grew up in Sansom Park, just outside Fort Worth. His dad worked at the Swift & Company meatpacking plant and owned a neighborhood grocery store for 18 years. His mom sold real estate. The first time Banty met Dianne, he “knew that was it,” he says. They were married in 1966. At the time, Banty was making $52 a week. He owned a cool ‘57 Chevy. Gas was 18 cents a gallon, and you could buy five hamburgers for a dollar. Times were good.

Banty learned a lot from both his father and his father-in-law. His dad raised and sold cows and got Banty into it as well. Dianne’s dad was a carpenter who shared the ins and outs of his trade.

“If not for him, I couldn’t build a birdhouse,” Banty says.

The skills have served him well. He built his own house and added onto it twice. He builds stock tanks on the side and welds his own corrals. One summer, from sunup to dark, he installed 40 tons of rock at his daughter’s house. And just like the mentor who inspired him when he was young, Banty taught his own son-in-law to frame a house.

Banty is a man of many hobbies. He enjoys working on cars and has won several first place and “top favorite” awards at car shows. Among others, he sports a 1949 GMC pickup and a 1936 Ford pickup that he rebuilt in his spare time. He enjoys bass fishing, and while he used to deer hunt, he now has deer on his property, where he feeds and enjoys watching them out in nature. Being outdoors in wide open spaces appeals to him.

He is celebrating being one year free from colon cancer. Banty was diagnosed when he returned to TRWD. He went through eight months of chemotherapy, entered into remission, but then had to undergo five radiation treatments. TRWD was very supportive during his journey to recovery, Banty says.

“TRWD really cares about you,” he adds. “That’s just one of the many reasons that brought me back. I like doing the best job possible in everything I take on, and TRWD enables me to do that. I’m planning on sticking around here until the end.”

 

 

 

Lake Current Level Conservation Level* Level Difference**
Arlington 549.37 550.00 -0.63
Benbrook 692.73 694.00 -1.27
Bridgeport 825.91 836.00 -10.09
Cedar Creek 321.78 322.00 -0.22
Eagle Mountain 646.98 649.10 -2.12
Lake Worth 591.84 594.00 -2.16
Richland-Chambers 315.32 315.00 0.32
*Conservation Level: The permitted level of water an entity is allowed to hold in a lake. Any amount above the conservation level is used for the temporary storage of flood waters and must be released downstream.
**Difference: Amount above or below conservation level.
For more information read our daily reports or the TRWD Lake Level Blog.

Check out the TRWD OneRain portal for a visualization of this information and more.

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