As Ferndale's new Department of Public Works director Loyd Cureton settles into his new job, he says he has been impressed by the city of Ferndale and is committed to validating the trust the city has placed in him.
Cureton says he has found Ferndale to be a "gem of a community" and has felt welcomed by city staff and residents. He was recently hired for the permanent DPW director position after serving as interim director for the past several months.
Previous DPW director Byron Photiades retired in August after 39 years of service with the city. Photiades cited a desire to spend more time with his family - which became even more important after the sudden tragic loss of a crew leader at Public Works in July.
In late August, the city contracted with Livonia-based engineering and planning firm OHM to assist in the interim duties, and Cureton was hired as interim DPW director with a 90-day contract.
Cureton previously served as director of public works in Walled Lake for more than 20 years before taking a consulting position with OHM.
"After working here [in Ferndale] for several months I've grown to like the community very much. The employees have responded well to my direction and I ended up deciding that I'd like to stay here if they would have me," Cureton said on Tuesday. "I feel very fortunate because it's really a great community. I really feel fortunate that I was selected and I'm going to do everything I can do validate the trust that's been placed in me."
Cureton, the father of three grown children, said he is working with a great group of people who are very motivated and said he looks forward to continuing to serve the community.
"I'm going to give it my all," he said.
Here's what else Cureton had to say in a recent chat with Patch.
Patch: What made you want to get into public works?
Cureton: As a younger man I was always a Mr. Fix It. I loved equipment, heavy equipment. One thing led to another. I'm a Class 1 Certified Water System Operator with the State of Michigan and I found that I really enjoyed the interaction with the public and the problem-solving nature of providing public services to the residents. It just was an ideal fit for me in that there's a variety of work in many aspects. Quite a bit of the work is outside, but there's an equal amount of work in front of your computer at a desktop. One day you might be working in a snowstorm, the next day you might be working on a water main break, or planning a five-year capital improvement plan for park improvements and road improvements. It's just a wide opportunity to do a variety of work.
And the biggest thing is that public works is more behind the scenes than some of the other city services. But they're a service that is used by everyone, every day. You have an opportunity to really impact the quality of life by providing excellent service. Whether it's the water system - everybody's going to get up and use the water, use the roads to get to and from work. You're behind the scenes and getting things done that really can make a difference in the quality of life for people. The work has impact and it has value, and that's very, very satisfying.
Patch: What are some of the day-to-day duties and projects you are working on?
Cureton: The department currently has 24 employees, two supervisors and a leader position. The entire department has gone through somewhat of a transition. My role is to provide leadership to plan long-term projects and to respond to day-to-day emergencies or other problems if they're occurring with the services that we provide.
Public works operations are similar in that you have your water systems, distribution systems, sewer collection, services like snow plowing, maintaining parks. When I've been out in the parks performing inspections I've been able to meet a number of people and there are really sincere and great people here that are concerned about their community. I'm very excited about the opportunity to serve them.
The department is in the middle of a full conversion of its water meter reading system. We're well on the way to getting that resolved.
Patch: What are some of the department's long-term priorities?
Cureton: The city has a number of projects whether they're capital improvement projects like renovating the parks or the current projects I'm involved in like supporting the DDA and parking committee with the conversation to the multi-space parking meter system, or significant renovations [being planned for the] courthouse and police department - I'll be very involved with that project.
There's a high standard by both the management at City Hall and here at the Public Works Department that's been adhered to long-term. My goal is to maintain it or do better.
Patch: Anything you’d like to convey to the people of Ferndale?
Cureton: I'd like to let them know that if they have any concerns - and I'm sincere about this - I'm a hands-on director and if they have a concern I want them to call the public works office. Whether it's for parks, roads, water, sewer, any of those issues and I will be sure to respond to those concerns and assist in any way that I can.