As of January 11, Rod Akey has stepped in as the city’s Public Works Director/City Engineer, the first such position in city history.
A native of Merrill, the 46-year-old father of two and UW-Madison graduate brings over 20 years of engineering experience to the new position, including employment with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Black Construction of Kempster, Wis. and the Lincoln County Highway Department.
Most recently, Akey was owner and operator of Akey Engineering Services, LLC for the 15 years, providing engineering services to the city of Merrill the past two years.
“I like to design and build things,” Akey says with smile, when asked of the roots of his interest in the engineering field. “One of the main reasons I was interested in this position with the city is that I have spent most of my life here. Now my wife Leah and I have two children, Abe (14) and Eve (13). I look forward to not only being involved in the growth of the city, but to also give our children a reason to raise their own families here.”
In terms of his future goals, Akey’s answer is once again short and to the point.
“I would like to work on upgrading existing facilities and set politics aside to do what’s best for the city,” he said.
As city administrator Dave Johnson explains, the creation of the Director of Public Works/City Engineer position comes on the heels of a December Common Council decision to eliminate the elected Street Commissioner position, previously held by the retired Dick Lupton.
“We did away with the elected street commissioner which has been around for as long as anyone can remember here in Merrill. In fact, we were the last city to have an elected street commissioner in the entire state of Wisconsin, or any other state in the country from my research,” Johnson said. “Dick’s position formerly consisted of overseeing the street department, weed commissioner and dealing with storm water issues. His position is being replaced with a street superintendent who will oversee the street department.
“Storm water management will fall under Rod’s responsibility as well as overseeing the street department, the water and wastewater utility and all engineering services,” Johnson added.
According to Johnson, Kim Kriewald will continue to serve as water and wastewater utility manager for the city. Former street department foreman Roger Drewek is currently serving as interim street superintendent.
“The city has advertised for the street superintendent position and will select the best possible candidate,” Johnson said.