Tip of The Spear: DPW Is The Heart of the City That Makes Everything Work
By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper
February 23, 2023
Municipal Governments have many services that they perform. Obviously Police and Fire Services are right up there at the top of the list. There are other services that are not always that obvious unless you lose them. Public Works encompass water, sanitation, sewer, drainage, fleet services, trash removal, cemetery, sidewalks, lighting and streets. I like to say DPW (Department of Public Works) is the heart of the City that makes everything work. There are many employees that contribute to the operations of our City. Beginning with Director Jeff Odoms.
Director Odoms came to us after working in the City of West Palm Beach for 25 years. He heads a team of assistant directors, engineers, operators and other specially trained employees. Dr. Jeremy Earle addressed the amazing accomplishments of the entire team in a recent update from Jeff Odoms. As he said, “you have been the “tip of the spear” in our efforts to completely revamp our Infrastructure from top to bottom.”
Recently we were informed that Peter Kunen will be leaving the Engineering Team. While on staff he led many efforts including safe neighborhood projects, late night and weekend repair work projects. We wish him luck on his new endeavors. Also, in the Engineering Team we have Assistant City Engineer Carla Sanchez and GIS Coordinator Wilson Sanchez. This Team is tasked with monitoring projects and outside vendors to make sure all projects are moving forward and are on budget.
On the managerial side of operations we have Assistant Director Casimir and Operations Manager Kelvin Thomas. This Team oversees operations of Plants, Pumping Stations and Distribution Pipes. With our aged Infrastructure this job has been very daunting and demanding. The Water Services Team has accomplished the First Green Belt Six Sigma Project. Six Sigma is a set of standards that was established back in 1986 by an engineer to improve quality delivery of services.
The Team set a goal to fix water breaks within 4 hours. Their first test case was 4.5 hours. After evaluation and setting up different counter measures the repairs of pipes were improved. Now all repairs due to this new approach have repairs done in an average of 3 hours. This means water pipe failures are having less impact on residents and businesses.
On the Sanitation Sewer Side Operations Manager Thompson, Supervisor Travis Tucker and Mechanic Jermaine Eleby also have been working tirelessly. Often getting called out all hours, sometimes early mornings for sewer alarms. This Team is tasked with protecting our City and citizens from sewer overflows. Even at peak capacity and Hollywood asking for reduced flow they have balanced the system without environmental impacts.
The DPW Team is also tasked with Environmental Compliance. EC Manger Jocelyn Brogan and her team follows all properties in the City to ensure they are in compliance with drainage and treating their out flows. This includes grease traps and drains.
The Team managing water meters has been faced with a year-long task of fixing the entire system. If you have been following my column, I have informed our readers on the malfunctioning of the meters throughout the City. They have been working with a special team to replace the malfunctioning meters and set up a new business model for billings. The core to funding our future replacement and repairs will depend on accurate billings and collections.
Stormwater Teams continue to monitor and clean our City drains. With the two large systems in the Southwest and Northeast Quadrants ensuring that these pumps are operational and this is vital to the safety and security of our residents and properties.
Another “tip of the spear" is Mary Francis Jeannot the Fiscal and Budgetary Manager of DPW. She was transferred from the City Manager’s Office years ago. She took with her a true understanding of the internal processes in the City which she has utilized and expanded on. Through hard work she has improved close out of issues by 70% in one year alone. She not only works on the water side but works with Fleet Manager Yesid Caballero on equipment and fuel purchasing. Alongside Master Mechanic Byron Taylor they truly have kept us literally moving.
The Sanitation Team led by James Simmons continues to perform under demanding conditions. Years ago, there were anywhere from 30-40 employees in Sanitation. Through automation and operational changes like purchasing front end loaders for commercial accounts the team consists of 15. Currently we are reviewing all of Sanitation Operations with a focus on maintaining it in house. Once completed the study will be brought to the Commission.
In addition to DPW Director Odoms oversees the maintenance of all facilities, streets and the cemetery. The past year the Commission approved revamping the cemetery and we are looking at how the service can be expanded and improved. This year is the first that funds of $500,000 have been approved for street resurfacing throughout the City. As we continue to fine tune our Staff levels to ensure we are doing the work that is needed in our facilities, we also need to be retrofitted for Staff. This work is being performed in-house by our Wonder Construction Team.
In closing Director Odoms shared that by count there have been 56 projects executed with 45 this year alone. This did not include the large-scale replacement projects. Replacement of catch basins and curb inlet improvements. There were also over 20 boiled waters tested, performed and cleared. The other great news is we have received a $14.9 Million Dollar Grant for Pumping Stations, a $2.8 Million Dollar Grant for a 70 inch force main project and are bonding $53 Million Dollars for additional improvements.
I personally want to thank Director Odoms and the entire Team for their professionalism and hard work! They are making our City run 24/7/365 and are now planning for a positive and sustainable future!
As always, I am available for your questions, concerns, and ideas to help make our City a better place. Please feel free to reach out to me at my Office: (954) 457-1318. On my Cell/Text: (954) 632-5700. Or email at: email@example.com