I am pleased to announce that on August 22, 2016 the City of Kent officially welcomed Melanie Baker as Kent’s new Public Service Director.
In her first month on the job she’s been making the rounds, getting to know the staff and the community, but you may not have noticed her because that’s what Public Service does best — keep out of sight and out of mind, until something goes wrong and you need them.
Most of us rarely think about how much goes into making sure your toilets flush and your shower turns on, until it doesn’t — and then it’s always at the worst possible time — but the truth is there is no good time to have our modern necessities go caveman on us.
Which is why it’s great to have Melanie on board to do all the worrying for us, making sure our catch basins are clear, water lines aren’t leaking, sewer pipes aren’t clogged, trees are healthy, traffic signals are optimized, trash cans and recycling bins are emptied, sidewalks are safe, potholes are patched, snow is plowed, leaves are vacuumed, branches are chipped, City offices are open for business and new construction is going as planned — and that’s just before 9 a.m.
Melanie joins a department of 60 employees with a $9 million operating budget that is responsible for designing, building and maintaining the City’s $150 million investment in public infrastructure.
$150 million in infrastructure is the largest class of assets in the City’s portfolio, so in addition to ensuring public health and safety, Melanie is our most important asset manager, trying every trick in the book to stay one step ahead of Father Time who has a knack for turning our most valued assets into trouble-prone liabilities.
The hiring committee tasked with finding a new Director spent a couple of months this summer recruiting and interviewing candidates before selecting Melanie as the top pick — and thankfully, she accepted the City’s offer.
Melanie has 24 years working for Richfield Ohio — including serving as Zoning Inspector, Director of Planning, and Public Service Director since 2000. She has a BS in Architecture and a minor in Engineering from Ohio State University so she has great credentials to go along with all that work experience.
In her professional positions Melanie led Richfield through projects big and small – including constructing a new City Safety Building and a new City Hall building (sound familiar?).
Melanie’s reputation as the “go to” person on Richfield’s staff, helping to solve problems and create opportunities for her City Council and the community, is the reason we had her so high on list of top candidates — and why we’re so happy she joined us.
In Richfield Melanie was quick to roll up her sleeves and put on her work boots to get the work done. She’ll be keeping those boots handy in Kent but I think she’ll find she’s got some exceptional colleagues here who will help her do the heavy lifting.
Melanie’s likely to keep a low profile because that’s in the Public Service DNA but don’t let that fool you — she and her staff are busy working around the clock to make sure you never have to give your public services a second thought.