Berlin Losing Public Works Director To Fruitland

BERLIN — After almost six years as director of Public Works, Mike Gibbons will be leaving the town of Berlin for a similar position in a larger city.

His tenure has seen huge leaps in the department’s efficiency, according to town leadership, and his impact on Public Works has been great enough to spark a change to what Berlin is looking for in a department head.

“Mike’s made some real and measurable improvements in the Public Works Department,” said Mayor Gee Williams, “and by doing so has re-defined some of the duties that he is in charge of. He’s led by example. So the first thing we’re doing is reviewing the job description to make sure that it includes all of the things that the Public Works Department director does now.”

Gibbons first came on as director of Public Works in 2008 and has overseen numerous projects since. These include the town’s switch from a manual to automatic sanitation truck, the installation of six rain gardens, replacing the basketball courts at Henry Park and refurbishing the tennis courts at Stephen Decatur Park. Under his watch, Public Works has also taken on dozens of road and sidewalk paving projects, has worked with Grow Berlin Green to expand recycling services in town and made massive improvements to Berlin’s inclement weather response including making the switch to rubber blades on snow plows.

“He’s made the department so much more self-sufficient and they do a lot of work in house that we used to have to always sub-contract,” said Williams. “And that’s not only increased savings but greatly increased efficiency because when problems occur they can just get right on it.”

With Gibbons’ departure, the town will be following a search process similar to the one it conducted last year to find the new director of planning and zoning. Within the next few weeks, the council will be sending out search notices both electronically and through print. The expectation is for a new director to be chosen within the next four to six weeks, according to Williams. High participation in the job search is expected and the previous search for both a new planning and zoning director and town administrator attracted a large number of applicants.

“Obviously, I think we have a reputation as a good, decent and progressive place to work,” said the mayor, “so I’m anticipating a fairly good amount of applications and we’ll proceed expediently to review them and get down to a finalist. And all of that, my best estimate is a month to six weeks.”

Gibbons will be leaving his position with Berlin to take over as director of public works for the city of Fruitland, which will come with additional responsibilities.

“I’m going to be the director of public works there overseeing, in addition to what I do here, ’ll be overseeing the water, the sewer department, wastewater treatment plant as well as stormwater,” Gibbons said.

Originally hailing from the midwest, Gibbons has lived and worked on the Eastern Shore since the late 1990s. He’ll be leaving behind a lot of good memories with Berlin.

“It’s been very enjoyable. It’s a very quaint, very nice town and it’s been a great experience,” he said.

The council joined the mayor in thanking Gibbons, who will leave Feb. 28, for his years with public works and all of the improvements that have been made under his watch. Councilwoman Paula Lynch said that what impressed her most about Gibbons was his work ethic and attitude.

“I have always felt that the one thing that you brought to the job was, whenever anything came up, your answer was, ‘how can we figure out to do it,’ as opposed to, ‘oh no, you can’t do it.’ It was a refreshing change,” she said.