VanDeWoestyne new public service superintendent

Lisa Depies

Long-time Geneseo Street Department employee John VanDeWoestyne has been named the city’s first public service superintendent.

The position was recently created by the city after a merger of the street, parks and cemetery departments.

“Most cities have a public works department with a director who oversees this type of operation,” said city alderman and public service board chairman Kevin Peterson.

“The idea (for merging the departments)?has been batted around for quite some time,” explained Peterson. “We looked at the pool of manpower we have in those three departments and saw that they do very similar work.

“One of the reasons we did this is because we hire a good deal of part-time help during the summer for the cemetery and park department. We’re trying to pare that back a little bit and better utilize our full-time guys,” he said.

“This restructuring is more of an internal efficiency thing,” Peterson added.

Once the decision was made to create a public service department, city officials started their search for a superintendent.

“We opened the position to internal and external applicants,” said Peterson. After interviewing job candidates, the city opted to hire VanDeWoestyne for the position.

VanDeWoestyne has been with the city’s street department since 1975. He’s served as the department’s superintendent for the past two decades.

“I think, like a lot of people, my job with the city started as a part time thing,” said ?VanDeWoestyne. “The opportunity was there for some summer work, and, after, my supervisor liked me well enough to hire me full time.”

“John’s done a wonderful job as street department superintendent, and I know he’ll do a wonderful job in his new position,”?said Peterson. “When we were interviewing candidates, John met our criteria very favorably, and you absolutely have to look at the kind of loyalty he’s had to the city and reward that loyalty.”

The merger of the three departments will slightly modify the responsibilities of former park department superintendent Brian?Ludwig and cemetery superintendent John McCracken.

“We’re not sure what their new titles will be, but Brian and John McCracken will essentially be foremen. They’ll still be the main guys in their areas, and they both certainly have a lot of expertise in their areas,” said Peterson. “We want people to understand this isn’t a demotion for anyone. Nobody took a cut in pay. Instead, what this change will do is take some of the clerical responsibilities off their plates. We look at this as a step forward for everyone.”

“This is a new beginning,” said VanDeWoestyne. “Everything we do in the public sector is very visible, and we take a lot of pride in our work.

“This change is really a structural change that consolidates resources. The work in all of the areas will remain the same, we’re just going to approach it from a different way,” he added.

In addition to a merging of the street, park and cemetery departments, two of the city’s administrative boards — the park board and the community service board — have been consolidated into one board, now known as the public service board.

Along with Peterson as its chairman, the board is comprised of members Ed Deener, Lowell Ewert, Mike Kiss, Tom Domino and Mike Ward.