Greetings to all of you. I would like to begin by saying that I am honored and humbled to spend the next year as the President of this fantastic organization. Many greater folks have blazed the trail to get where we are today, a successful organization dedicated to furthering the education of a new generation of Public Works leaders. At the January E-Board meeting, there were eight Peter Walsh and three Stellar Vendor award recipients in attendance. All of the Peter Walsh recipients have been where I now find myself. This is a hard act to follow, and I will try to live up to the expectations that I have imposed on myself.
I came to work for the City of Galt in 2004, at the tender age of forty-six. Prior to coming to work for Galt, I had a seventeen year career in the private sector in outdoor advertising. I began as an entry level “sign builder,” and ended up as the operations manager for my territory. I found myself unemployed after the company was sold for the third time in my career there. I started working with a buddy who was a general contractor. While doing this, I applied for the position of a Maintenance Worker 1, with the City of Galt and was hired.
I had no background in anything related to Public Works, but did have a background in supervision and construction. Galt had an incentive program, which allowed one to earn up to four incentives for having certifications like a Class A CDL, Collections, and other certifications. When I began with the City, there were no employees who were receiving all four incentives. I had all four within the first year. That is free money. My superintendent was kind enough to send me to trainings in collection, distribution, water treatment, and traffic control. I obtained a Class A license, certifications in water distribution, wastewater collection system, Backflow Tester, Cross Control Specialist and water treatment. I gave all of my attention to learning the ins and outs of collection, distribution, signs and markings, etc. I volunteered to work on-call and overtime, whenever the opportunity presented. Initially, it was very nice to just come to work and just do what I was directed to do. My only worry was that I wasn’t making enough money to pay the mortgage. Thankfully, my wife, Paula was stable in her career as a middle school teacher.
Circumstances presented the early opportunity to promote, which our finances appreciated. After five months, I was put in the position of acting Senior Maintenance Worker. I lead water leak repairs and sewer lateral repairs for a couple of months. Then I was put in the position of acting Streets Supervisor. My superintendent at the time, Bob Stein, took me to my first MSA meeting right after becoming the supervisor. I started through the chairs that July. Sue Bowman was the treasurer at the time and I still remember her coming to my office and “giving” me all of the treasurer material. It was overwhelming.
The first Conference that I attended was held in Rohnert Park. That is where I met Fullmer Chapman, who told me about the classes through Santiago Canyon, Citrus, and Palomar colleges. I took every class that was offered, while going to a local community college to get my Associates Degree. The knowledge that I obtained from Fullmer and other instructors provided me enough knowledge along with my limited experience to fake my way through.
I learned very early on the tremendous value that the MSA offers through education, networking, and mentoring. George Bradley was ten miles down the road in Lodi and happy to give me advice and counsel. Jerry Dankbar was up the road twenty miles and also willing to give advice and assistance. Lyle Waite was another source of information and there were others who were willing to offer advice and support. It was not a bad thing to have the help and support of one current and two future Peter Walsh recipients.
My superintendent, Bob Stein, took a superintendent’s position for the City of Santee and left Galt in August of 2007. I became the acting Streets Superintendent. I then was promoted to the permanent position six months later. If it wasn’t for the MSA and the educational opportunities, networking, and mentoring, I don’t think that I would have been successful and certainly not where I am today. I owe so much to this organization.
As for what to look forward to this year, I am very excited that the education program and foundation are performing very well. I will assist as needed on those two programs. I want to look at our committees. I have already had a request from one of the chairs to step down as the chair. I want to focus somewhat on the Communications and Marketing aspect of our organization to keep us strong. I am looking for a volunteer to head up this effort. Another question is whether we need an education committee, since we have had an Education Director and now an interim director. Are we duplicating efforts here, or will the Education Director utilize this committee as a resource? I look to my fellow delegates to offer suggestions on priorities for the year. I learned long ago that I am not the smartest guy at the party and am always looking for ideas and better ways of doing things from those I work with.
Finally, I am looking forward to trying to maintain the record of our past Presidents of traveling to all of the chapters this year. I have already booked my flight to visit Arizona in March. I also will be visiting the Redwood Empire and LA/Orange Chapters in May. I will be on vacation from June and not able to travel between June 8 through June 26.
Thank you and I will see you all soon,