Pepper Bego is Concord's go-to guy for neighborhoods that need something from the city.
And they go to him a lot.
Think of him as a one-man "Mr. Fix-It" for Concord communities.
Since 2006, Bego, 45, has run Concord's Neighborhood Program as a staff of one.
Communities apply to the City Council to join the program, which provides a range of benefits, including the opportunity to obtain city matching grants of up to $3,000 and getting a city employee assigned as their own government liaison.
"We're trying to bridge the gap between the government and the people it serves to improve quality of life for the residents," Bego said. "I think of myself as an information broker. Most residents just want answers."
There are 41 formally recognized neighborhoods in the program.
Concord City Council approved the most recent additions last month, Oxford Commons and Covington, both in the western part of the city.
City liaisons attend property owner association meetings and serve as the first point of contact for groups that have issues or concerns.
Many times, though, people go straight to Bego.
That's what Josie Gambardella did when she had trouble dealing with a grant application for the Roberta Farms community. Bego helped her fill out the application. She got the grant, which was used for adding monuments to the front of the community.
There is no single over-arching concern confronting neighborhoods at the moment, Bego said.
Some newer developments want to be sure that developers can complete their projects, despite the economy. Issues that are always present include dealing with crime, speeding, potholes, street lights and flooding.
Then there's the time neighbors in Harbour Towne wanted Bego to see if a noisy dog chained in someone's backyard was crossing onto their property lines. Colleagues dubbed Bego a "pet detective" for that call.
Bego said his biggest challenge is working as the lone staffer in a city where the number of recognized neighborhoods has doubled in just three years.
It can also be dicey when several neighborhoods request him to attend their meetings at the same time.
Bego tries to hit as many as he can, while still making time for a home life. The Ohio native lives in Mooresville, is married and has two children.
He earned a basketball scholarship to Davidson College in the mid-1980s and was a guard on the team that went to the NCAA tournament in 1986. They were a No. 16 seed, and got crushed by No. 1 seed Kentucky, although Bego said it was fun to be "mild celebrities for a week."
During his career, which he said occurred "about 50 pounds ago," Bego went up against several future NBA stars, including Ron Harper, Joe Dumars, A.C. Green and Byron Scott. For the past 20 years, Bego has coached recreation league Amateur Athletic Union teams.
He also is a self-taught calligrapher, something he picked up in college. Buddies of his asked him to pen poems in calligraphy for their girlfriends, and Bego later handled all the calligraphy on the 500 invitations sent out for his own wedding 20 years ago.
"When I concentrate and have the proper tools, I can do it well," he said of his hobby.
The same can be said of his work for the city.
Concord Mayor Scott Padgett praised Bego and the job he does.
He said the office not only provides a good way for the city to communicate with its neighborhoods, but that it also fosters better relationships among residents of different communities. "That's an additional benefit we had not expected when we started the program in 2000," Padgett said.
Gambardella was one of the people who sat in on the interview process when Bego was hired. She recalled he was the candidate most interested in seeing what he could do to benefit all of the city's neighborhoods.
"And isn't that the point?" she asked. "He's always there for neighborhoods."
For his part, Bego said the best part of his job is simply assisting others, which he said is made easier with the support he gets from city administration and staff.
"If you can find a way to help people, even if it's with a small matter, you can't get a better experience than that," Bego said. "We are put on this earth to serve."