Launch Slideshow

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2006 Trendsetters

2006 Trendsetters

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    Katie Curry's efforts to encourage others to recycle have made her a local hero. Plus, she gets to sit on her own hard-earned benches when she needs to take a break from bicycling around town with family. Photo: Mary Ann Carter/Black Star

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    Andres Duany

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    John Duncan Jr.

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    Al Gore

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    Interstate Highway System

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    Tim Pawlenty

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    Rich Giani (seated, second from left), water-quality manager at Washington, D.C.'s Water and Sewer Authority, headed a research team that revealed how chloramines affect the leaching of lead into drinking water. Photo: DC WASA

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    Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association president Kathleen Holst is more concerned about road-related issues than she is about her status as the association's first female leader. Photo: IRTBA

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    Bruce Logan is using bacteria in wastewater to create electricity. Photo: Shaoan Cheng

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    Raymond Seed worked without pay to discover why New Orleans's flood control system failed during Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Jenni Spinner

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    At 35, Kris Riemann is the youngest public works director Gulfport, Miss., has had. Thanks to careful planning, the city was the first to restore services after Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Pat Sullivan

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    Diane Linderman asked Congress to allocate homeland security funds directly to public works as well as police and fire agencies. Photo: APWA

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    Joe Haworth (middle) urges public agencies to partner with each other to educate their customers about what they do. “Much of the public wants to help; they just need to be told what to do.” Photo: LACSD

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    Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter

For the complete list, click here.

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A port in the storm

Kris Riemann, director of public works, Gulfport, Miss.

Like every other city trapped in Hurricane Katrina's path, Gulfport was ravaged. The city's sewer lift stations—all down. Every street light—washed away. All major roads—buried in an avalanche of debris. The entire southern part of the city—completely wiped out.

What separated Gulfport from other municipalities during the disaster was its rapid revival. Battling tropical-storm-force winds, 30 of the public works department's 150-person staff reported to work the day Katrina hit; 90 were on the scene by day three. Because they labored around the clock in the storm's immediate aftermath, streets were cleared and water pressure restored within a week; sewer service and traffic systems were running in four weeks.

At the front lines of this remarkable restoration stood Riemann. He endured exhausting work days for nearly two weeks straight, stealing sleep when he could on his conference table. However, he remains humble about his heroic contribution, deflecting praise to his diligent crew.

“In terms of public works'recovery, our staff is due 100% of the credit for that success,” he says. “Their efforts of working 17-hour days, washing each other's clothes, making sandwiches, doing tasks that they normally wouldn't do, willingly, made all the difference. We would not stop until the roads were cleared, water was on, sewers were flowing, and traffic signals were running.”

Even though he's had time to breathe, Riemann isn't resting. His goal: to make sure citizens get the best possible service in times of calm as well as crisis.

“Every day, we should strive to help someone else,” he says. “We are in the perfect position to help thousands of people and touch their lives every day.”

— Jenni Spinner