New public works director takes on city projects

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Forrest brings 23 years experience in public works projects to city

With more than 20 years of extension experience across a wide spectrum of public works projects, Robert Forrest, new public works director for the city of Cassville who was hired in December, has hit the ground running.

Originally from Oklahoma, Forrest said he is excited to contribute his experience to help the city move the city forward with its current projects, including a massive $10.3 million sewer and water system renovation project, which the city is seeking a bond issue from voters on April 4 to help fund.

Forrest has served in public works for several cities, including high-profile projects, as an infrastructure director, including Rindge, N.H., and in New Mexico.

"I started out [in public works] with a pick and shovel, and later pursued a degree in environmental engineering," Forrest said. "I've been over parks and recreation and water and waste water treatment plants, streets, facilities and fleet maintenance."

"We are thrilled and excited that Robert has joined our team," said Steve Walensky, former public works director and current city administrator. "His experience managing high-profile projects is much needed with our future projects here in Cassville. He'll be a true asset to our team.

"Robert brings with him 23 years of experience in the municipal service industry encompassing experiences in all the public works disciplines. During his career, he has managed the construction of several high profile projects including a $12 million waste water treatment plant expansion, large street and bridge projects, a $10 million storm drainage system, railroad spur projects for an industrial park, water well and main street projects, and airport renovations, just to mention a few.

"I started in smaller municipalities, then went to bigger cities," Forrest said. "Working for the bigger cities gives you a realistic view because you work with different types of municipal governments. And, a lot of the bigger cities get into newer technology.

"So to take the experience I've had over the years and give that experience to Cassville is great. I enjoy what I do."

Forrest said he has enjoyed working in smaller municipalities the best, because they are more personal. Therefore, he was happy to find the opportunity in Cassville and said he is excited to bring his family, and his skill sets, to the community.

"I'm excited to build relationships here," he said. "It's harder to do that in a bigger city."

Along with his unique skill sets, Forrest said his experience working and growing up in small towns has also helped him understand their dynamics, including small-town politics.

"I grew up in a small town, and I understand the closeness people have with their governing body," he said. "Those relationships are a lot closer than you would have in a big city."

Other projects at the top of his list include continuing the road resurfacing and creek maintenance projects.

Abbey, Mystic, Nottingham, Lake Road and Gravel streets are currently scheduled for resurfacing, with work expected to begin in approximately three to four weeks, Forrest said.

The city also purchased a crack seal machine to help make repairs to city streets.

Bids have been put out to continue the creek maintenance project, which includes removing the remainder of tons of gravel that washed into Flat Creek during the 2015 floods, which Forrest said he hopes to start in early April.

"The push is to get ahead of the rains," he said. "Everything we're going to do right now for the season is in the planning stages."

His goal is to use his experience to keep moving the city's infrastructure ahead, including facilitating newer technologies.

"I am delighted to join such a visionary team here at city hall," Forrest said. "Itís clear they are intent on making our community a sought-after destination to live and work."

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