MILLINOCKET, Maine ? John Rush is not usually one to take himself too seriously. A Public Works Department driver for 34½ years, the long- and curly haired Rush is recognizable around town for his broad shoulders and the colorful umbrella hat he liked to wear at work on sunny days.

Yet the Town Council gave Rush a good and serious compliment during its meeting Thursday ? a proclamation honoring Rush for “very reliable, highly knowledgeable and most professional” work as a senior vehicle operator in honor of his retirement, which begins Monday.

And, in typical council style, councilors teased Rush as they praised him.

“One constant people could always count on,” Councilor Bryant Davis told Rush, “is seeing you driving by in your plow truck with a big smile on your face as you buried us.”

“Yes, there’s a lot of joy in that,” Rush answered.

Town Manager Eugene Conlogue extended to Rush’s wife the town leaders’ “blessings and our prayers. If he ever gets out of control, please give us a call,” Conlogue said.

A lifelong resident and town worker, Rush said he was retiring to do work around his house and to enjoy himself. He also acknowledged that his retirement would make it easier for the town to survive the massive budget cuts it faces with the expected devaluation of the Katahdin Avenue paper mill.

“I’m 61 years old,” Rush said, “and I want to be able to do something else with myself before I get too old or too sick.”