2006 Top Ten Public Works Leaders Named

One of the most coveted and prestigious awards sponsored by the American Public Works Association is presented each year to 10 public works professionals whose professional excellence earned the distinction of Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year. The honorees are selected for their professionalism and expertise as well as their personal dedication to improving the quality of life in their communities through advancement of public works services and technology.

The 2006 Top Ten Review Committee consists of Committee Chair David H. Barber, P.E., Director of Public Works, Village of Downers Grove, Ill.; Anthony W. Leffin, Public Works Director, City of Maitland, Fla.; Richard F. Stinson, Director of Public Works, Town of Wakefield, Mass.; Patricia Biegler, P.E., Director of Public Works, City of Chesapeake, Va.; and David A. Moody, Public Works/Engineering Director, City of Peoria, Ariz.

Winners of the 2006 Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year Award are:

J. Philip (Flip) Bombardier, P.E.
Assistant City Manager of Operations
City of Gastonia, North Carolina

As Assistant City Manager of Operations for the City of Gastonia, N.C., J. Philip (Flip) Bombardier, P.E., is responsible for professional and administrative work in the planning, direction, control and evaluation of the operations and programs of the City's Public Works/Utilities, Engineering, and Electrical Departments. Employed with the City since 1985, he has served in various capacities including Civil Engineer III, Assistant City Engineer and Director of Engineering/City Engineer until he was promoted to his current position.

In addition to his career with the City of Gastonia, Bombardier has pursued continuous growth in the engineering field, recognizing the value of professional development. He achieved certification as a Registered Professional Engineer in North Carolina in 1987, and maintains certification as a Registered Professional Engineer in South Carolina. In addition, he obtained a Residential Contractor's License and was licensed as a Home Inspector in South Carolina.

Bombardier has been very active in APWA over the years, serving on the National Diversity Committee and as North Carolina Chapter President in addition to participating in the chapter's Diversity and Membership Committees. He participates in other professional organizations through membership in the American Society of Civil Engineers, the North Carolina Floodplain Managers Association, the North Carolina League of Municipalities and the Gaston County Quality of Natural Resources Commission. He is a former member of the Gaston County YMCA Board of Directors.

"Flip's ability to build consensus among diverse areas of the community and the City organization is an invaluable quality in providing municipal services to our citizens." - Edward C. Munn, City Manager, City of Gastonia, North Carolina

James (Jim) M. Close
Director of Public Works
City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Since 1983, James (Jim) M. Close has been Director of Public Works for the City of Harrisburg, Pa., which has 165 full-time employees and maintains a $38.5 million annual budget. Prior to his employment with the City of Harrisburg, he was Township Manager for East Pennsboro Township in Enola, Pa., and Operation Manager at Susquehanna Valley Ecological Associates, Inc., Northumberland, Pa.

As in many mid-sized cities, Harrisburg has gone from decline to renaissance, which puts a strain on local budgets. Close has reduced manpower in Public Works by 20%, while developing alternate revenue sources from the sale of electricity, timber, fuels, and sludge disposal and decreasing operational expenses with in-house demolition, alley paving, signal maintenance, and trash collection. Combining technology with innovation, Harrisburg's Public Works Department has truly done more with less.

Close is Past President of the APWA Central Pennsylvania Chapter and has been the Chair of APWA's Solid Waste Management Committee and SWANA Partnership Task Force. He has been named Public Works Director of the Year by the Central Pennsylvania Chapter, and Volunteer of the Year by the American Heart Association Pennsylvania Capital Region. Close also received the Governor's Award for Local Government Excellence in Technology Innovation for Harrisburg's contract Waste Hauling Program and the Governor's Energy Council Award for Excellence for Harrisburg's Co-Generation Project using digester gas for heating the primary digesters and to generate electricity.

"Jim has found creative and cost savings solutions to a number of chronic problems that plague most urban areas, such as illegal dumping and demolition of collapsing structures." - Terri Martini, Director, Department of Building and Housing Development, City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Kurt A. Corey, P.E.
Director of Public Works
City of Eugene, Oregon

Kurt A. Corey, P.E., is Director of Public Works for the City of Eugene, Ore., overseeing an annual operating budget of $58 million and a staff of approximately 415 permanent employees and 100 temporary seasonal employees. Prior to joining the Eugene Public Works Department in 2001, he was the Public Works Director for the City of Billings, Mont., from 1997-2001, and the City Engineer in Billings from 1987-1997.

Over the past year Corey has led his department to many achievements, including completing a new $16.5 million runway at the Eugene Airport, opening three new parks (with more under construction), completing a $1.6 million project to construct concrete alleys in Eugene's older university neighborhood, constructing a new $1.8 million street to serve business and residential properties in the north downtown area, and working with the City Council to successfully increase the local motor vehicle fuel tax to bolster the City's efforts to repave deteriorated streets.

Corey's service to APWA includes leadership positions with the Rocky Mountain and Oregon Chapters and serving for a number of years on the National Engineering and Technology Committee. He has also spent the past 25 years officiating football and basketball at the high school and small college levels. Since 1993 his small college football career has included work for the Frontier Conference (NAIA) and the Northwest Intercollegiate Football Officials Association (NIFOA) Division II and III. His basketball officiating r‚sum‚ includes numerous tournaments in Montana, including two state championship contests.

"As the mayor of Eugene and as a former state legislator, I understand how challenging it can be to work in a political environment. Kurt succeeds because he is honest, respectful and sincerely dedicated to finding win-win solutions at every turn." - Kitty Piercy, Mayor, City of Eugene, Oregon

Roger Flint
Director, Public Works & Utilities
City of Spokane, Washington

Roger Flint has been the Director of Public Works & Utilities for the City of Spokane, Wash., for the past six years. He assists the Deputy Mayor in the administration of the City of Spokane and serves as Acting Deputy Mayor in his absence. He has also served the City as Director, General Services Department; Northwest Area Manager, City Manager's Office; and Disposal Operations Supervisor, Regional Solid Waste System.

Flint facilitated the formation of and acts as City liaison with the Citizen's Street Advisory Commission, established by the voters in the successful passage of the 2005 $117 million Street Bond Measure. He guided the new Commission as it explored and established its role and responsibilities under the authority mandated by the voters. Flint led the City's staff effort to ensure that the planning and technical information was available and provided to the public. This effort was critical to the successful passage of the measure.

Flint recently completed two two-year terms on the APWA Washington Chapter Board of Directors and is the current Chair of the National Solid Waste Management Committee, where he has focused the group on initiatives such as disposal of electronic waste. He is a member of the City of Spokane's Transportation Committee and has been a member of the City's Power & Environment, Regulatory Reform, and Emergency Planning Disaster Committees. Flint is also a member of the "Forward Fairchild" Planning & Infrastructure Committee, an important liaison role between the Fairchild Air Force Base and the City of Spokane, with emphasis on water needs planning.

"One of the significant traits Roger brings to APWA is his interest and energy he has for both his profession and APWA. He is always seeking new ideas and striving to make his organization 'best in class.'" - George Crombie, APWA Director-at-Large, Environmental Management

Michael (Mike) Geisel, P.E.
Director of Public Works/City Engineer
City of Chesterfield, Missouri

Michael (Mike) Geisel, P.E., was originally hired in 1988 as the Assistant City Engineer in the newly-incorporated City of Chesterfield, Mo., and was subsequently promoted to Director of Public Works/City Engineer. Prior to his employment with the City of Chesterfield, he was the Engineering and Operations Administrator for the City of Maryland Heights, Mo.; Civil Engineer for the City of St. Charles, Mo.; and Area Engineer with Georgia Power Company.

Geisel has successfully planned and managed multiple ballot proposals: two proposals related to parks bonds and tax initiatives; two street and sidewalk initiatives (one for bond issuance and one to establish a permanent funding source); establishment of a Transportation Development District; and creation of a Tax Increment Financing District after the devastation of the Great Flood of 1993. In addition, he has been involved in the creation and implementation of an infrastructure and stormwater master plan for Chesterfield Valley; land acquisition and construction of Chesterfield's first City Hall; and conception, project development, construction and opening of the Catch 22 Miracle Field for special athletes.

Geisel's community service includes coaching three competitive Odyssey of the Mind balsa wood structures teams to world finals; serving as a competition judge and head judge for the Destination Imagination Student Program; presenting at multiple elementary and middle schools, teaching rudimentary engineering concepts for structures such as tension, compression, stress and strain; and serving on the Francis Howell School District's finance committee.

"Mike understands the issues and with a very intelligent and thoroughly dedicated staff, he has been able to forge partnerships with the Development community, in an effort to turn whatever issue exists into a positive solution that most often benefits the City." - Brett J. Hardesty, President, Hardesty Homes, L.L.C., Chesterfield, Missouri

Steven P. Hansen, P.E.
Director of Public Works
City of Liberty, Missouri

In 1994, Steven P. Hansen, P.E., was promoted to Director of Public Works for the City of Liberty, Mo. He is responsible for managing four divisions: Engineering, Street and Utilities Maintenance, Facilities Maintenance, and Environmental Services. Prior to becoming Director of Public Works, he served as the City's Director of Engineering Services/City Engineer for five years and as City Engineer for the City of Olathe, Kan., for nine years.

Hansen initiated a program to replace and upgrade the equipment and facilities used by the Street and Utilities Maintenance Division. The Central Maintenance Facility was upgraded and renovated by repainting, adding energy-efficient garage doors, providing a paint bay to repair and paint equipment, and constructing a new salt storage building. Hansen was also responsible for acquiring the necessary equipment to patch potholes and crack-seal roadways. Under his leadership these efforts have substantially improved the effectiveness and efficiency of snow plowing, roadway, and sewer and water line maintenance operations.

Hansen has given numerous presentations over the years, including "Stormwater Funding in Liberty, Missouri" at a Burns & McDonnell Seminar on Funding Strategies for Stormwater Management Practices in January 2003; "Liberty Triangle Redevelopment Project" at the January 2003 Manhattan, Kansas Leaders Summit; and "Liberty's Waste Management Program" for a William Jewell College science class in February 1995. He also moderated the closing ceremony of the 1997 APWA North American Snow Conference in Kansas City and presented "Olathe Stormwater Management Program" at the Mid-America APWA Conference in March 1986.

"On many occasions, Mr. Hansen has gone above and beyond what is required in a normal relationship to ensure that the school children of the Liberty School District were served in an exemplary manner." - W. Scott Taveau, Superintendent of Schools, Liberty, Missouri

Lawrence (Larry) E. Lux
Lux Advisors, Ltd.
Plainfield, Illinois

Lawrence (Larry) E. Lux has spent his entire 42-year career in the public works profession serving in both the public and private sectors. He has worked as a civil engineer, construction engineer and director of public works and engineering in small- and medium-sized communities. In the private sector he has served as a construction engineer, project manager, municipal client services manager, director of marketing and vice president/regional manager. In 2001 he formed Lux Advisors, Ltd., a firm that provides management consulting services and emergency management planning, response and recovery services to public works agencies and communities throughout the United States.

Lux is a nationally-known and sought-after teacher, trainer and educator in the field of Public Works Emergency Management. In 1983, he was recruited by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to participate in one of the pilot Integrated Emergency Management Courses (IEMCs) to be conducted at the relatively new (at that time) National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Md. He has been an adjunct instructor and exercise controller for the IEMCs since 1984. During this time, he has been a part of more than 100 course deliveries involving more than 6,000 public employees and officials.

A former member of the APWA Board of Directors, Lux has been a member of APWA's Emergency Management, Strategic Planning, Leadership and Management, and Advisory Committees. He is a current member of the International Affairs Committee and Chair of the APWA/IPWEA Task Force. He is also a member of the State of Illinois Terrorism Task Force, representing public works.

"Larry is the most selfless, dedicated and passionate advocate of public works I have ever known. He has consistently demonstrated the skills and moral courage to take principled stands on complex emerging issues facing our profession." - James M. Reynolds, Director of Public Works, Village of Northbrook, Illinois

Larry D. Nelson
City Engineer
City of Madison, Wisconsin

Larry D. Nelson is the City Engineer for the City of Madison, Wis., responsible for managing and directing the City's Engineering Division and the Sanitary Sewer and Stormwater Utilities. Prior to becoming City Engineer, he served as the City's Assistant City Engineer, Principal Civil Engineer 2 and Senior Civil Engineer.

Upon appointment as City Engineer and with the retirement of all the supervisory staff of the field maintenance section, Nelson determined the sewer main backups experienced by the city, which had climbed to more than 400 per year, were excessive. His conclusion led to reengineering the sewer maintenance function, including involvement of sewer maintenance workers into the management process. Additional equipment was purchased and the number of sewer maintenance trucks was increased from two to six. Each sewer backup was investigated with closed circuit TV. The city embarked on an ambitious program to replace all six-inch diameter sewer mains with new street reconstruction. The sewer main backups diminished with each increase in maintenance level. The current level is less than 50 per year, well below any national standard or benchmark.

Nelson has received a number of awards, including the "John Curtis Chapter Service Award" from the Wisconsin Chapter of APWA (2005); Mayor's Certificate of Appreciation for promotion of Madison's Climate Protection Programs (2003); Mayor's Certificate of Appreciation for participation in the 1996 Leadership Forum, "Building for the Future—From the Inside Out"; and the "Orchid Award" from Capital Community Citizens (Madison) for "Underground Services on Fox Avenue" (1993).

"I quickly learned and was impressed by Larry's intellect, professionalism, thoroughness and dedication to the City of Madison, its infrastructure, and the public works profession." - Judge James L. Martin, Dane County Circuit Court, Branch 17, Madison, Wisconsin

Kees Schipper
Commissioner of Transportation and Works
Regional Municipality of York

Until his retirement in February 2006, Kees Schipper was the Commissioner of Transportation and Works for the Regional Municipality of York, located in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area in southern Ontario. The Region is comprised of nine local municipalities covering 1,756 square kilometers (678 square miles). Prior to his employment with the Region, Schipper was Director of Transportation and Engineering Planning with the City of Mississauga and the Director of Transportation for the Regional Municipality of Durham.

Schipper oversaw the amalgamation of five conventional transit and seven specialized transit services for the disabled, formerly operated by the local municipalities in the Region, to form York Region Transit (YRT) in 2001. YRT has been hugely successful and led the country in conventional transit ridership growth, achieving average increases of 10 percent or greater each year. In 2005, YRT carried more than 15 million passengers.

Schipper's professional involvement includes membership in APWA, Ontario Good Roads Association (Board of Directors, 1995-2000), Professional Engineers of Ontario, Institute of Transportation Engineers, Municipal Engineers Association, Transportation Association of Canada, International Municipal Signal Association, Ontario Traffic Conference, and Canadian Urban Transportation Association. He conducted lectures on "Road Design" to engineering students at Guelph University over a period of two years, and was involved in the production of York Works, a semi-annual Transportation and Works publication sent to every York Region household keeping residents apprised of works taking place in their communities.

"York Region needed someone with the ability to juggle multiple high-priority tasks, liaise with our local and senior levels of government and manage the day-to-day affairs of one of the Region's largest departments. In this capacity, Kees was instrumental." - Michael Garrett, Chief Administrative Officer, the Regional Municipality of York

Robert (Bob) Wraight, P.E.
Superintendent of Public Works
Village of Morton, Illinois

Robert (Bob) Wraight, P.E., is the Superintendent of Public Works for the Village of Morton, Ill. He is responsible for planning and implementing a capital improvement program with an average annual budget of $6 million; generating and implementing programs and policies for the department's sewer, water, building and zoning, gas and streets divisions; preparing and reviewing engineering plans for Village projects; and serving as liaison between the Department of Public Works, planning commission, and the elected Village Board.

In 1980, when Wraight assumed the position of Superintendent of Public Works, the Village of Morton suffered from serious infrastructure deficiencies, particularly in the areas of stormwater and wastewater treatment. Through Wraight's efforts, significant plans were developed to address these needs. In particular, Morton's comprehensive stormwater drainage plan was the largest public works project ever undertaken in the Village. It involved miles of creek improvements, numerous bridges, thousands of feet of sewer construction and several ancillary facilities and structures.

Wraight has been very active in community service. He prepared a nine-part public information series describing the Morton Department of Public Works which was published in the Morton Times News, November 1995-June 1996, and he has been a featured speaker at meetings of local civic organizations including Rotary Club, Pastoral Alliance, Kiwanis Club, Board of Realtors and Morton Chamber of Commerce Leadership School. Wraight is a director in the APWA Illinois Chapter's Central Branch, and was a member of the 2006 North American Snow Conference committee.

"The single word that best describes him is 'effective,' whether it involves solving a citizen's problem, generating budgets with the village board, or working with other governmental officials on regulatory and other issues." - James G. Roth, P.E., Manager of Water Resources and Development Dept., Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc., Springfield, Illinois

Editor's Note: To see the Top Ten recipients from 1960 to 2006, go to APWA's National Awards Program web page at www.apwa.net/About/awards.asp?Display=top10list.