Curt Spannraft

Name: Donald Jacobvitz, PE, PWLF
Title: Public Works Director
Where: Putnam County, Fla.
Population: 74,000
What: 70 employees build and maintain 425 miles of paved roads and 1,100 miles of dirt roads; and operate three water treatment facilities (including a 1 mgd reverse osmosis plant), three wastewater treatment facilities, two ferries, and a barge port.
Operating budget: $7 million
Capital budget: $2 million

In the many years Donald Jacobvitz has worked to improve Putnam County, Fla., he’s tried to instill a sense of community service in the people who work with him.

“I tell my employees that when they fix something they should imagine they’re doing it in front of their own house,” he says. “They take more care if they think of it that way.”

Such actions generate four to five letters of praise each month. He further engages employees (and himself) with the community through professional organizations.

For example, he helped establish a leadership training series for county public works supervisors and provides four hours of instruction each month on topics ranging from attendance issues, time management, planning, communications, ethics and problem-solving to more personal issues such as leadership skills and conflict resolution. He has been involved with the American Public Works Association’s Emerging Leaders program since 2003 as county liaison to the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway Corridor Management Entity.

Jacobvitz recommended and was instrumental in building a 7-mile dirt road spur — the National Scenic Byway System’s only dirt road — that links the state’s oldest operating ferry to the rest of the system.

“All of this is important because society has gone away from values,” he says. “Public works touches the lives of every single person. We’re trying to instill the values of pride in the community and do a good job for everyone.”

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