Barker names three deputy directors for Public Works DepartmentBy HASKEL BURNS,
As part of his plan to restructure the leadership of Hattiesburg’s Public Works Department, Mayor Toby Barker announced on Wednesday three new deputy directors for the department.
During a news conference at Hattiesburg City Hall, Barker named Wanda Tyler as deputy director of solid waste, Colton Hill as deputy director of streets and Perry Thomas as deputy director of maintenance.
“Today is a great day for the city of Hattiesburg and for the department,” Barker said. “All three of these deputy directors will attend directors’ meetings; they will work very closely with each other and with other departments.
“I believe each of these individuals possesses the skill set to provide quality service, as well as empower and train our many employees in the Public Works Department.”
Tyler, who served as deputy director of public works in Jackson, will be in charge of the sanitation and recycling divisions. She has a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree from Belhaven University.
“I’m very, very excited to be with the city of Hattiesburg,” Tyler said. “I look forward to … making the city’s solid waste and sanitation division a better place.”
Hill, who has served as interim general manager for the Public Works Department since January, will oversee street maintenance, mowing, right-of-way maintenance and drainage. He previously served as division manager of the traffic division and crew foreman of traffic control and operations.
“I’m just excited to continue to serve the city of Hattiesburg in whatever capacity I can,” Hill said.
Thomas has worked with the city for 12 years and will oversee the shop, construction and traffic divisions. He previously served as the division manager for the shop and has 26 years of private sector experience as a mechanic.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to working together with each and every one as at team to move the city forward,” Thomas said.
The three new deputy directors will replace the previous positions of director and general manager, which were in charge of eight different divisions. The previous director of the Public Works Department, Larry Barnes, resigned in December.
“As we have taken a step back and observed the workings of the department over our first nine-plus months in office, we have come to fully appreciate the broad scope of work the department has in its charge,” Barker said. “For these reasons, we recommended to the city council that we move forward in the manner in which there would be … three deputy directors with two to three divisions that directly report to them.
“Those deputy directors would then report to the chief administrative or myself. We believe this new structure … will allow more direct oversight and specialization in leadership, as well as afford more opportunities for internal staff and skill development.”
Salary for the new deputy directors, who begin their positions Monday, will be in the range of $50,000-$60,000 each.
“We’re actually generating cost savings because of this – we’re not paying one director a higher salary and then a general manager under him,” Barker said. “We have three deputy directors, and so it’s actually generated enough cost savings for us to address some salary concerns we have at the division manager level (as well as) pay for an additional electrician, which we know we need in the city right now just by looking around at the number of street lamps we have out.
“So we believe that this is not only organizationally beneficial, but also fiscally beneficial.”