Departure Leads Berlin To Combine Two Departments

BERLIN — Rather than seeking a new department head, the Town of Berlin announced this week it will be consolidating the Public Works and Water Resources departments under the oversight of Jane Kreiter, the current director of Water Resources.

The announcement was made only days prior to the departure of Mike Gibbons, the current director of Public Works, from the town. Gibbons will be leaving the town for a similar position with the city of Fruitland. With Gibbons’ departure, Berlin leadership decided that this would be a good time to merge Public Works and Water Resources.

“Yes, it’s change but we’ve made a lot of changes in the last few years and I think it’s going to work out well,” said Mayor Gee Williams.

The consolidation will spare the town from a lengthy search for a new Public Works director. While Kreiter will be overseeing both departments, the town has made an in-house promotion of long-time Public Works Assistant Director Wendell Purnell to fill the newly created role of Public Works superintendent.

Kreiter said this week that she’s excited to take on the new responsibility and believes that Gibbons has left Public Works in great condition for the consolidation.

“Mike brought the Public Works Department a long way in his time with Berlin. Public Works and Water Resources have worked closely together for many years, and I know that he is leaving behind a highly competent and dedicated staff. I look forward to working with them,” she said.

With a somewhat poetic turn of phrase, Kreiter pointed out how Water Resources and Public Works have natural synergy and how the new consolidated department will continue to endeavor to promote the best practices already in place.

“It is often said that water is our planet’s most precious resource and when you think about it, other than air, it is the one resource which has the most impact on every other aspect of life,” said Kreiter.

Berlin officials agree that the two departments should click together and operate efficiently under Kreiter’s supervision.

“The additional responsibilities of the Public Works Department fit very well into this philosophy as waste management (commonly known as trash), recycling and even the paving of streets ultimately play a part in the health of our natural water and the environment overall,” said Town Administrator Laura Allen. “Ensuring the entire system, from the water we drink from our household taps, to the way that wastewater is treated and ultimately dispersed back into the environment, and the handling of trash and recycling represents this stewardship.”

The mayor had more of the same to say and has no fears that the consolidation will prove overwhelming or unwieldy.

“Like everybody else, I’m excited to see how they bring all this underway. I think it’ll be smooth. I don’t think it’ll be a bumpy road at all,” he said.

Williams also pointed out that while Kreiter will have a lot on her plate overseeing both departments she will have plenty of support from Purnell, who is an experienced and competent town employee.

“Everything you can do in Public Works he’s done and he’s done it well and I think he’s very well respected by not only the people in the community but by the other members of the Public Works Department,” Williams said.

Williams added that the consolidation shouldn’t represent any kind of disruption since the town has made it a policy for the last several years to stress departmental cooperation. Therefore, a consolidation between Public Works and Water Resources should feel like old hat to those involved.