One season ahead

Porfirio Munoz is the supervisor of groundskeeping for the Berrien County Courthouse and other county buildings. He worked on a farm for 26 years prior to becoming a groundskeeper for the county, and says he loves working outdoors. Besides keeping the grounds looking good, county employees say he’s known for his salsa-making skills. 

ST. JOSEPH — Now that the outdoor Christmas lights are up, it’s time to think about spring.

That is, if you’re Porfirio Munoz.

“You keep a step ahead. Fall is our busiest time of the year because you have the lights, leaves, early snow, and thinking about spring at the same time,” said Munoz, supervisor of the grounds crew for the Berrien County Courthouse and other county-owned buildings.

“Now we’re planting tulip bulbs,” he said.

Munoz, of Watervliet, said he worked at Grandview Orchards in Watervliet for 26 years before starting to work for the county in September 2015. 

“I love the outdoors. This job is 90 percent outdoors, maintaining the grounds, mowing, planting flowers and taking care of them. Anything you see outside,” he said. 

Munoz is also a meteorologist of sorts.

“You make your schedule, but you’re checking the weather every couple of hours, and have to be ready to change plans,” he said.

Munoz manages a crew of six or seven people, depending on the season. He calls Brendon Turner, the only other full-time groundskeeper, “My right hand.”

Turner said Munoz is “really good at the fine details” of groundskeeping.

“Anybody can mow, but he always takes that extra step,” Turner said.

They work in all temperatures, from below zero to over 100 degrees. Turner said in his opinion, the heat is worse than the cold. Munoz said he loves working outdoors and Mother Nature doesn’t bother him much either way.

“I just love nature. You have to love your job. That’s the key to doing it. It’s my responsibility and I want to make sure everything’s going correctly to serve the people. The best part is when people see flowers first thing in the spring,” Munoz said. “We’re always planning for the future, trying to improve things every year.”

Besides being known around the courthouse for his groundskeeping skills, Munoz is known by many for his homemade salsa. He recently took part, along with other courthouse employees, in a salsa-making competition. Who won?

“Him, of course,” Turner said, pointing to Munoz.

Munoz’s family owns the La Chula Mexican Market in Watervliet. One reviewer on its website calls it “a sneaky little restaurant that hides in plan sight.”

Munoz said the restaurant has four types of salsa to choose from, but the number of types he can make really has no limit.

Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter: @HPSwidwa