2012-04-13 / People

Public works director is native of city

By Kristy Wagner
Staff Writer

Doug Howard Doug Howard Doug Howard is more than just the new director of South Portland Public Works; he is a longtime resident and active member of the community.

Howard has been involved with South Portland Public Works since 1983, when he started working in the department. Last February, the city hired him as the new director of public works and, since then, he’s settled in to the job very well.

“I started right on the back of a trash truck and worked up through just about every position in public works and, when I left South Portland, I was the foreman,” Howard said.

Howard left South Portland Public Works to pursue his own computer repair business.

“I had taken a bunch of computer courses and had done a lot of work on my own and had a side business going on,” Howard said. “I decided to give it a shot and found that I liked working with the software more than I liked repairing it.”

Howard said he spent about six months working for himself when the city of Saco contacted him and offered him a management position.

“I decided to jump back into public works,” Howard said. “I worked for Saco as the environmental utilities supervisor for about nine years.”

When Howard noticed that South Portland Public Works had an opening for a new director, he applied for the job and got an interview. Howard now heads the department and oversees about 25 employees.

Howard said he does not miss running his own computer business.

“I kind of like being part of a team and with the computer business I was on my own,” Howard said. “I like interaction with people and doing something for the community.”

Directors and employees of other city departments have welcomed Howard in his new position.

“Department heads have been very helpful for me stepping into this role,” Howard said.

Howard said his transition to the position of director was smooth and, so far, there have been very few issues. He credits his smooth transition to the city’s quality of management. Howard came in to his new role with a balanced budget and a great team of city employees under him, as well as great city officials and employees in other departments, he said.

“We have a really good team and I think we work together well. One thing I want to promote is working together with the other departments,” Howard said.

Since his Feb. 21 start date, Howard dove right into his new role. He has been spotted at several city council meetings and he took time to attend a recycling committee meeting in March at the request of committee members.

“When it is necessary for me to attend the meetings I go,” Howard said. “It is budget season so all the department heads attend the meetings.”

The city of South Portland impresses Howard and he said he is excited to work for the municipality he has called home his whole life.

“I think they do things pretty well here,” Howard said.

When asked where he might want to focus improvement or change in his department, Howard said he would like the department to use computer technology on a more regular basis.

“Coming from a computer background I want to promote the use of technology here in public works and trying to improve efficiency with use of technology for fleet tracking and just everything.”

Howard said as the new director, computer software helps him with budgeting and keeping track of department spending, which he said aids him in identifying “areas for improvement.”

“I think being a longtime resident and working in the department before, I know the long-term vision and goals of the city,” Howard said. “Being a resident, I think, helps with being connected to the community.”

Howard is a 1981 graduate of South Portland High School. All three of his children attended South Portland schools and Howard has participated in several booster groups and coached T-ball, Little League and soccer.

“I am happy to come back and give back to the city in this positive way. We do many things and many people do not realize everything we do. It’s rewarding when you can give back to the city,” Howard said.

Staff Writer Kristy Wagner can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 219.

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Neighbors is a weekly profile that features a community member in South Portland or Cape Elizabeth. Know someone you would like to see featured? Contact Staff Writer Kristy Wagner at 282-4337, ext. 219.

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