Radford Thomas is being promoted to director of a new department at the City of Lenoir, the Public Services Department.
Public Services will consolidate Public Utilities and Public Works into one department. Public Utilities provides water and sewer services to city residents, the Town of Hudson, and several other water and sewer utilities in the county. Public Works handles solid waste collection, streets and right-of-ways, building maintenance, vehicles services, and cemeteries and downtown grounds upkeep for the City. Thomas currently serves as Public Utilities Director.
City Manager Scott Hildebran said the creation of Public Services is a way to streamline the services of each department, increase collaboration among the staff of each, and create a new structure that will help the City accomplish longer term goals. The merger will create the new Public Services Director position and change the previous director positions to Public Utilities Operations Manager and Public Works Operations Manager. The operations managers for each section will handle the day-to-day activities and responsibilities, as well as assist with project management. Public Services Director Thomas will primarily focus on long-range planning and big picture projects, of which the City has many in the works.
"Our Public Works and Public Utilities departments are very busy, so it can be a challenge for either department director to find time to focus on larger projects and plan for the future," City Manager Hildebran said. "Creating the Public Services Department will allow Mr. Thomas to do that. Our incoming operations managers will be able to focus on day-to-day issues, while Mr. Thomas can guide various projects across the finish line."
Some of those current and upcoming projects include the Smith Crossroads sewer line replacement, the Hospital Avenue sidewalk and repaving project, The Campus renovations, water system interconnections, upcoming greenway expansions and connections, a Downtown market pavilion, a state grant for the Lenoir Aquatics & Fitness Center, the Smith Crossroads sign, City wayfinding project, City Hall renovation, City facilities capital asset inventory, Downtown beautification, stormwater mapping, City cemetery expansion, and more.
"We have a long list of projects and improvements in the works that will benefit Lenoir. As Public Services Director, Mr. Thomas will be able to focus on and keep those projects moving, while the new operations managers handle the regular duties of the Public Works and Utilities sections," City Manager Hildebran said.
Having a combined Public Services Department will also make it easier to share staff, vehicles, and other assets between divisions.
"We're a team here at the City, and the departments have always worked well together," City Manager Hildebran said. "But, sometimes our directors aren't familiar with what assets each department has available. Director Thomas will be able to bring the two public services sections together and facilitate even better communication and cooperation among staff."
Director Thomas said he looks forward to the new opportunity and will continue to work to improve Lenoir and provide great customer service to residents.
"I appreciate the confidence City Manager Hildebran has in me to be able to move both departments forward," Director Thomas said. "I think the new operations managers and I will make a good team. We all share a similar philosophy in customer service and managing personnel. We will focus on developing talent within the Public Utilities and Public Works sections and make sure our people are well-trained, able to do their jobs efficiently, and ready to move into positions of leadership in the future."
Director Thomas has worked in local government in North Carolina since the mid-1980s and served as a city/town manager for 15 years. He worked as Assistant to the Town Manager in Pilot Mountain, Main Street/Downtown Development Director in Sanford, Town Administrator in Scotland Neck, City Manager in Newton and Eden, and Town Manager in Marshville.
Director Thomas has worked for the City of Lenoir as Public Utilities Director since August 2011. During his time with the City, he has overseen several water system improvements including renovations to the water plant, the addition of two filters and a mechanical pretreatment unit at the water plant, Greenway sewer line replacement, the purchase of a new sludge dryer and biosolids handling facility at Lower Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), new basin construction and renovations at the Gunpowder Creek WWTP, the Meadowood sewer outfall replacement, and the conversion of the City of Lenoir water system to automatic metering infrastructure. Director Thomas also oversees the City's Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield Assessment grant project and the Appalachian Regional Commission grant cleanup project at the Virginia Street property located at the corner of Virginia Street and College Avenue.
The Public Services Department will become official on July 1, 2022, and Mr. Thomas will officially take the helm of the department the same day.
Stay tuned for announcements on the City's new Public Works and Public Utilities Operations Managers.