Tisbury health agent Tom Pachico set his sights on retirement

Longtime Tisbury health agent Tom Pachico is set to retire and enjoy warmer winters. — Michael Cummo

After almost 23 years as the Tisbury health agent, Tom Pachico is ready for more free time and warmer winters. He will retire at the end of August after more than three decades of involvement with the Tisbury Board of Health.

“It’s time,” he said. “I’m getting older. I’ve been involved with the Board of Health for 32 years, so I want to take it easy.”

Mr. Pachico was an elected member of the Board of Health for nine and a half years before he was hired as health agent in 1993, “when there wasn’t even much of health department.”

At the time, he was working for his father putting in septic systems. When Title 5 ushered in new rules and regulations for septic systems and a system for enforcement, Mr. Pachico sought the newly created job of health agent.

Since then, he’s opened up “nearly every septic system in Tisbury,” tested the water along town beaches, helped get the park and ride lot permitted and built, helped cap the landfill, and worked on town sewering, among many other responsibilities.

He said things have come a long way in 32 years. He has more certifications than he can remember: lead code enforcement, asbestos testing, food code, soil/site evaluations, Title 5 system inspector, pool operator, and many more.

“There’s all kinds of things you have to be trained in,” he said. “And there’s all kinds of stuff you have to do now, but there wasn’t when I started.”

He said the hard part of the job is enforcement, but working with people has also been his favorite part.

“You have people that are just in a hard situation, so we try to work with them and help them out as much as possible, which is the rewarding part of the job,” he said.

Mr. Pachico also served three terms on the Tisbury board of selectman, and has been involved in town government for “most of his life.” He said it will be interesting to see what it’s like to step away.

“I won’t have people chasing me down at 5:30 in the morning where I have coffee and calling me on Saturdays because they want to talk to me off the record and that kind of stuff,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll still get calls from people wanting advice about things, which is fine.”

But he hasn’t stepped away entirely. He was recently appointed to the Department of Public Works board, which finds itself in turmoil following the departure after one year of Director Glenn Mauk and the angry resignation of longtime board member Leo DeSorcy, following the voters’ decision to put the DPW back under the control of selectmen.

“We’ll see if I can help them out for a little while until they get their stuff straightened out,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

He said he doesn’t plan on enduring any more Vineyard winters, however. He’s more interested in the sun and sand of Fort Myers, Fla.

“I’m probably going to be a snowbird from now on,” he said. “I don’t want to do any Februarys like the last one.”

Assistant Health Agent Maura Valley is likely going to take over Mr. Pachico’s role starting in September.

“Maura and I have been working together for 20-some-odd years,” he said. “She’s fully qualified, and more than capable.”

He hopes the transition into retirement will be a smooth one.

“We’re trying not to miss a beat,” he said. “That’s the game plan.”

‘He will be missed’

Ms. Valley has been working alongside Mr. Pachico continuously since 1995. Together they got the septic-management plan up and running, and addressed countless “day-to-day-type issues.”

“We’ve worked as a good team,” she said. “I have my strengths, he has his strengths. Working together we’ve worked really well.”

She’s appreciated his knowledge, and his Rolodex.

“He’s been here for so long, and he has a lot of experience, so he’s a great source of information,” she said. “He has a lot of contacts in the state, so as long as I can keep his Rolodex, we’ll be good.”

She’ll keep another number handy, too.

“I told him no matter where he goes, I’m going to keep his cell phone number,” she said.

For Ms. Valley, working without Mr. Pachico will be an adjustment.

“He’s been here a long time, and he was an asset to the town,” she said. “He will be missed.”