The 2000 Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year

Since 1960, APWA has singled out ten individuals each year who best represent the finest in the public works profession. Following are this year’s choices.

“Mark is a team player who will do whatever is necessary to ensure that this community is able to provide the highest quality of service to our customers.”

Mark T. Calhoun, P.E.
Public Works Director
City of Henderson, Nevada

Trying to meet the numerous challenges facing the modern-day public works director is a daunting task. Mark T. Calhoun, public works director for the City of Henderson, Nevada, has not only met these challenges successfully, he has brought to bear the latest in engineering technologies and innovative approaches to implementation of expansive projects and programs. Indeed, his devotion to success, vision, and leadership is evident throughout the City’s Public Works Department.

  • Helping to build the local infrastructure necessary to supply services to all the growth areas of the city, Calhoun has been instrumental in the formation, implementation, and monitoring of numerous special improvement districts with the funding totaling more than $290 million.
  • He negotiated a 15,878-acre-foot-per-year contract with the Secretary of the Interior to ensure that Henderson’s water supply would be adequate to meet its future needs.
  • Under Calhoun’s direction, the Construction Management Group was formed to provide support for the city’s capital building plan. The new division has been instrumental in providing construction management services for major city building construction, including recreation centers, police facilities, fire stations, a fire training center, and a wastewater laboratory structure.

In addition, since Calhoun became public works director in 1988, the city has grown from 75 employees to more than 300 employees in six specialized divisions; and the fleet has increased from 70 vehicles to more than 700 vehicles, while maintenance staff has only increased from 4 to 8 employees.

 Awards he has received include a Certificate of Appreciation and the Outstanding Contribution Award from the National Association of Industrial & Office Parks, 1999.

“He provides an excellent role model for the young people in San Antonio, the City where he was born and educated.”

Daniel Villarreal Cárdenas
Assistant Public Works Director
City of San Antonio, Texas

Assistant public works director Daniel Villarreal Cárdenas has given more than 22 years of dedication to the City of San Antonio and the public works profession. From redesigning the solid waste management system, to upgrading and maintaining the city’s streets and sidewalks, to developing and implementing a comprehensive air quality program, his commitment to the community has been remarkable.

  • Cárdenas developed and implemented the largest curbside recycling program in Texas. The program provides weekly curbside recycling to more than 290,000 residential garbage customers, and was implemented without a garbage rate increase.
  • A city household hazardous waste program was also developed and implemented by Cárdenas. Among the many positive features of this program, which was provided to the community at no additional cost, are: 70 to 80 percent of the chemicals collected are either recycled or reused, and the remaining materials are properly disposed; paint collected through the program is taken to an area paint blending company, and is provided back to the city’s graffiti abatement program at no cost; and the safety of the garbage collection crew has improved significantly.
  • He developed the city’s air quality program, which has helped to keep San Antonio the largest city in the U.S. in compliance with the Federal Clean Air Act.

In addition, Cárdenas designed and implemented program enhancements to the city’s solid waste management system which have resulted in an annual savings of $2.3 million for the city; and participated in the successful negotiations of three 30-year waste disposal contracts with three area landfill operators, which have also resulted in significant savings to the community.

 Professional awards include Outstanding Young Men of the Year (1994) and a listing in Who’s Who in the Southwest; and civic awards include a Letter of Appreciation from Town and Country Optimist Club, San Antonio, Texas.

“We as a town are thrilled to have hired him. Bill got done in his first three years what would have been expected of a director to take ten.”

William B. Edgerton
Director of Public Works
Town of Concord, Massachusetts

Throughout his career, William B. Edgerton has attempted to apply what he calls the “keys to organizational excellence”—vision, customer service, creativity and innovation, teamwork, growth and learning, and energy. Judging by his accomplishments as the director of public works for the Town of Concord, Massachusetts, Edgerton has not only met his goal, he has surpassed it. In fact, his entire career—almost 30 years in public service with the last 20 years in public works—has been dedicated to customer service and organizational excellence.

  • Under Edgerton’s leadership, the Concord Public Works (CPW) team designed, funded, and constructed a $2.5 million public works facility; designed and implemented a water conservation program that helped make Concord one of the few communities without a water ban during the drought of 1999; and achieved a 25 percent increase in tax-impact public works appropriations with major increases in infrastructure investments.
  • He negotiated a six-year curbside recycling and solid waste (pay-as-you-throw) contract with an innovative recycling pricing mechanism tying the cost of newspaper/fiber disposal costs to the monthly “Yellow Sheet” prices for Number 8 news, resulting in annual benefits of $28,000.
  • Edgerton and his staff increased by 24 percent the city’s curbside recycling rate to 43 percent of total tonnage collected; including yard waste, the recycling rate was 56 percent.

Additionally, Edgerton developed and carried out a 100-day plan when he first assumed the leadership of CPW. Highlights included developing a CPW Mission Statement, and reorganizing the administrative branch by decentralizing support staff to the line divisions. As a result of his focus on learning and growth, CPW employees participated in more than 1,800 hours of training, averaging 40 hours per employee.

Edgerton was the project manager for the following award-winning programs: Camel Award for Water Conservation, American Water Works, 1990; Quabbin Award for Conservation, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, 1989; and Award of Merit for Restricted Road Salt Program, City Hall Digest, 1988.

“He is a winner because of his character, his training, his experience and his professional standards.”

John L. German
Director of Public Works
City of San Antonio, Texas

The phrases “highest degree of integrity,” “highest ethical standards” and “outstanding performance with integrity” appeared in a number of the nomination letters for John L. German, director of public works for the City of San Antonio, Texas. He is known as a leader that demonstrates vision, discipline, and passion and does so with a high degree of conscience. He is not only committed to serving the citizens, he is also dedicated to his role as the director and leader of the Public Works Department.

  • Funding for street maintenance has increased dramatically during German’s tenure as public works director. Since 1991, contractual street maintenance expenditures have increased from $1.5 million to $10.3 million in 2000, a seven-fold increase.
  • German implemented a Historic Civic Center Master Plan that resulted in renovations and rehabilitation of the City Council Chamber, City Hall Façade, and Historic Civic Center River Link Project.
  • Working in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation, he created the City Traffic Management Office at the TransGuide Traffic Management Center. All traffic signals in the city are controlled from this Center.

He also created an environmental services section in the Public Works Department that now has 20-plus employees; and he initiated the creation of a GIS Master Plan for all departments.

German was the recipient of the Public Service Award, Urban Management Assistants of South Texas, 1999; the FHWA-ITE Scholarship to World ITS Congress in Berlin, Germany, 1997; and the Distinguished Service Award, Texas Public Works Association, 1980.

“Roger is dedicated and passionate about public service and providing the highest level of service for his customers.”

Roger P. LeDuc
City Manager
City of Aiken, South Carolina

The above quote provides a good idea of what Roger P. LeDuc is all about. The city manager for the City of Aiken, South Carolina, is someone who truly wants to serve others. Whether it be directing more than 300 employees within seven departments or his involvement with the Aiken Downtown Development Association to promote and develop the city, one thing is clear: LeDuc is the essence of personal commitment and professional excellence in everything he does for the City of Aiken.

  • In looking for innovative ways to finance a $6 million sewer project, LeDuc negotiated with local and statewide officials to receive the very first sewer loan granted by South Carolina. The loan was for the full construction costs at a 4.75 percent interest rate, which provided savings of more than $200,000 per year to Aiken’s citizens.
  • He was instrumental in instituting an award-winning stormwater utility program, which is used by the state as the model for all other stormwater programs.
  • LeDuc created a 20-block downtown development plan to revitalize and redevelop Aiken’s downtown. This master plan included renovations of the public medians and streets with extensive streetscape improvements.

He also developed a long-range master plan for the beautification and landscaping of the parkway system in Aiken; and initiated a citywide seat belt program, after which he worked with state and local officials to establish a statewide program throughout South Carolina.

LeDuc was chosen for the President’s Award as the top APWA leader in South Carolina in 1986 and 1989; and was recognized nationally in 1990 for establishing student chapters for APWA at Clemson and USC.

“His obvious priority in all things is providing opportunities for his staff to develop as outstanding members of the public works profession.”

Robert D. Lowry
Director of Public Works
City of Overland Park, Kansas

As director of public works for the City of Overland Park, Kansas, Robert Lowry’s primary contributions to the Public Works Department have been and continue to be as a leader who seeks to continually improve the services that the department provides to the citizens and visitors of Overland Park. His dedication to quality service and the belief that no organization can afford to be content with its past successes inspires the members of the Public Works Department to go the extra step in improving their work processes and customer service.

  • Lowry was instrumental in the development of a department project procedures manual. The manual, which is now used by all project managers, engineering technicians, and construction inspectors in the Public Works Department, establishes the procedures to be used to plan, administer, design, and inspect all city projects.
  • For some time, the department had concerns regarding the long-term durability of concrete used in the infrastructure. Under Lowry’s direction, the city now uses a new concrete aggregate in all city-funded public improvement projects, and private developers use it in all public improvements that will be turned over to the city for maintenance.
  • In conjunction with the improvements to the concrete specifications, Lowry encouraged the staff to identify ways to make the streets last longer. After eight months of work, a new asphalt mix was identified that will extend the life of the asphalt streets.

Lowry’s initiatives also include an analysis of street design to identify the benefits of such items as drainable bases and concrete streets; and, after a restructuring of the department, the development of a strategic planning process to identify the role that the department should play and the way it should operate in the future.

Lowry was the recipient of the Stanley A. Fisher Award in 1996, recognizing a 4.0 GPA as well as full-time employment during coursework toward the Masters in Public Administration from the University of Kansas; and the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Engineer of the Year for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, 1986.

“His accomplishments in Joliet are an example to all public works professionals in their efforts to rebuild America.”

John M. Mezera, P.E.
City Manager
City of Joliet, Illinois

The experience early in the career of John M. Mezera, city manager for the City of Joliet, Illinois, provided him with the foresight necessary to move Joliet from an industrial city with high unemployment to a revitalized, growth-oriented community with a diversified economy and strong residential, commercial, and tourism base. His vision for rebuilding the city has been based on comprehensive plans implemented in manageable phases that could be supported, both financially and conceptually, by the residents of the city.

  • Much of the city’s success in attracting national and international tourism facilities has been made possible by the comprehensive planning and the infrastructure improvements that were installed in anticipation of future development. Mezera has been involved in negotiating all of the development agreements for these infrastructure projects and in directing the city’s efforts to accommodate the transportation and utility facilities that the developments required.
  • Mezera’s engineering background and experience with infrastructure issues was invaluable in guiding the city’s growth due to the annexation of more than 7,000 acres of adjoining land.
  • He was very involved with the preparation of the infrastructure portion of a City Center Redevelopment Plan, and was eventually given the opportunity to implement the public improvements in the City Center.

In addition, Mezera has overseen the approximately $4.5 million spent on improvements to the Bicentennial Park, including watercraft service facilities, decorative lighting, public performance stages, fountain, expanded office space, additional shop space, and expanded support facilities for festivals.

Among the numerous awards he has received are the United Way of Will County Public Service Chairman’s Recognition Award, 1996-1999; the International City Management Association Service Award, 1996; and the Joliet Area Boy Scout Recognition Award, 1994.

“More important, Lee Peck has a passion for his profession, a passion he has passed along to his two sons and to those who work with him and for him.”

Leighton F. Peck, Jr.
Director of Public Works
Town of Plymouth, Massachusetts

Leighton F. Peck, Jr., director of public works for the Town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, has brought a level of professionalism, innovation, and dedication to his role in the public works community. Indeed, he has been described as a genuine public works professional, an individual truly dedicated to public service, and tireless in his efforts to deliver services and projects to the best of his capability.

  • Peck has been an innovator and leader in the design/build/operate field. He has led the town’s efforts to build a new wastewater treatment facility as well as a 27-hole municipal golf course using the D/B/O method. The wastewater treatment facility project will be the first new plant built under this method of procurement in the Commonwealth.
  • He has led the development of long-range infrastructure improvement planning regarding bridges and culverts, dams, and roadways. His long-range plan provides a prioritization system for funding and maintenance of these facilities.
  • Peck has demonstrated the ability to get funding for town initiatives. He has amassed more than $50 million dollars of grants and low interest loans for capital projects, including work for roadways, wastewater, solid waste, and airport improvements.

His other achievements include the development and approval of a 20-year plan to provide an approved wastewater system at a cost of $41.8 million, and the development and implementation of an Asset Management Program.

Peck’s awards include an Appreciation Award from the Plymouth Downtown Harbor Corporation, 1994; and an Appreciation Award from Carver Youth Athletics.

“He brings a very high level of professionalism to every aspect of his work, shares and encourages others freely and positively, and delivers it all with a great sense of humor as well as empathy.”

William R. Shane, P.E.
Public Works Administrator/Town Engineer
Town of Yarmouth, Maine

The public works administrator/town engineer for the Town of Yarmouth, Maine, William R. Shane is a man whose ability to get the job done is well respected by those who deal with him on a daily basis. Known for the efficient management of his department, Shane brings to the Public Works Department the drive to establish and deliver the highest quality, effective, and cost-conscious public services and facilities.

  • Shane developed a volunteer Recycling & Waste Reduction Committee, which was instrumental in raising the recycling rate from three percent to a record high of 56 percent. The program received the first Governor’s Award for Waste Reduction & Recycling.
  • Working with an engineering firm, Shane developed a plan of action to correct the flooding problems in many Yarmouth neighborhoods. The town has successfully completed eight of 10 major projects identified as problem areas, and has minimized flood damage to all of the neighborhoods in the study program.
  • He was instrumental in getting Yarmouth voters to approve a pavement management plan, which brought in an additional $1.8 million to accelerate the repair schedule. The 87 percent bond approval by town voters was a huge vote of confidence for the Public Works Department, and gave the Town Council the support they needed to move forward with an aggressive repair schedule and a proactive maintenance philosophy.

Shane was also instrumental in causing the .83 MGD wastewater treatment plant to be upgraded to 1.4 MGD. Previously, the plant annually discharged over 5,000,000 gallons of untreated sewage into the Royal River; since the upgrade, discharges have been minimized and nearly eliminated.

Awards he has received include the State of Maine Office of E 911 Commendation for Enhanced 911 Addressing, 1997; and the Governor’s Award for Recycling & Waste Reduction for Management, 1996. He also served on the APWA Board of Directors from 1997-1999 as Region I Director.

“From personnel management, to policy recommendations, to pure engineering, he has been at the forefront in every instance.”

Harry W. Stone
Director of Public Works
County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works

Harry W. Stone, director of public works for the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, is an individual who has used his technical expertise, his problem solving skills, and his enthusiasm and professionalism to work his way up from a junior engineering aid for the department in 1958 to his current position. His leadership, character, and commitment to the Department of Public Works are just a few of his outstanding attributes.

  • Stone initiated an effort to coordinate and eliminate conflicting building code amendments for all the 89 jurisdictions in Los Angeles County. Through this process, the number of code amendments was reduced from 1104 to 44.
  • Since 1995, Stone’s department has been responsible for all County capital improvement programs, including jails, hospitals, parking structures, courthouses, and all the earthquake recovery projects following the Northridge earthquake.
  • He created the Los Angeles River Master Plan that identifies opportunities for aesthetic, environmental, flood control, and recreational enhancements along the Los Angeles River and Tujunga Wash.

Additionally, Stone has led the charge to meet recycling goals in Los Angeles County, achieving a 42 percent diversion rate thus far; has led the effort to coordinate 1800 traffic signals throughout the County; and his department developed a unique method of saving the 35-year-old concrete seawall panels, thus saving the County more than $80 million.

Stone won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Outstanding Achievement Award - Generation Earth: Secondary School Education Program, 1999; and the Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors of California’s Engineering Achievement Award, 1998.