JOPLIN, MO.--- The Joplin Public Works Department is in the process of reorganizing after a major shakeup earlier this year. When Former Public Works Director David Hertzberg was demoted and Assistant Director Jack Schaller resigned, city officials saw it as an opportunity to make necessary improvements. City leaders and staff say the reorganization will show the people of Joplin how well the city is moving forward.
"We saw an opportunity to make some improvements," said Sam Anselm, Assistant City Manager.
After the former public works director and assistant director left their positions earlier this year, city staff say they saw their chance to reorganize the department.
"It was an opportunity to streamline the department a little bit. Take some of the workload off of them by shifting workloads around to other divisions. It allows them to focus more on what their visions are," said Anselm.
"I think the city manager is trying to makes us a more efficient operation. He's done some research and had his staff do some research about that. And I think it's going to make us more streamlined and put the experts where we need them to be," said Melodee Colbert-Kean, City of Joplin Mayor.
The changes include, moving the engineering division under the planning and development group, moving fleet maintenance and code ordinances from the Public Works Department to the Joplin City Managers Office, and creating a new neighborhood services division.
"That will focus on the other areas of the neighborhoods of the city that weren't impacted by the tornado. That's something that I'm excited about," said Anselm.
City leaders and staff say the new changes will hopefully send a good message to the people of Joplin.
"We are trying our best to make sure that everything in the city is on the up-and-up and that we are having capable people in these positions," said Mayor Colbert-Kean.
"It's changes that I think are warranted, and approve the stability of that department, number one. But the number two thing is also the ability to provide good customer service to our residents, which is what we're here for," said Anselm.
City leaders will consider formal approval of the changes during November 4th's council meeting.
Also tonight, city leaders approved hiring Attorney Tom Loraine to conduct an investigation on allegations claiming Mayor Pro-Tem Bill Screarce leased a property to a man accused of gambling charges. Some real estate transactions along 20th Street involving Councilman Mike Woolston will also be reviewed. That investigation should begin within the next few weeks.
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