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Building legacies

Building legacies

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    Rick Merson has worked with Needham, Mass., for 35 years. Photo: Town of Needham, Department of Public Works

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    Mickey Sullivan started his career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is now regional vice president with Gresham, Smith & Partners. Photo: Gresham, Smith & Partners

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    Doug Wesselschmidt is city engineer in Shawnee, Kan., where he has worked for the past 20 years. Photo: City of Shawnee

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    Brian Usher is public works director of rapidly growing Zion, Ill., where more than 600 homes are projected to be built over the next three years. Photo: City of Zion

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    Mitch Zamojc is commissioner of public works in the expanding Region of Peel, Ontario. The region plans to divert 70% of waste away from landfills by 2016. Photo: Region of Peel

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    Orange County public works director Bill Baxter, left, accepts his Top Ten award from APWA president-elect Bob Freudenthal. Photo: Orange County Public Works

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    Sacramento County, Calif., Municipal Services Agency administrator Cheryl Creson stands near one of the large pipeline jobs underway for the Sacramento Regional Sanitation District. Photo: Chris Andis

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    Piano public works director Jimmy Foster has brought lessons culled in his travels to 55 different countries back to his home city. Photo: Deborah Stone

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    Leslie Bland, director of public works for the city of Fenton, Mich., installed a capital improvement plan to upgrade his town's roads. Photo:APWA Reporter

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    Las Vegas public works director Richard Goecke has seen exponential growth in his 20-year tenure. Photo:APWA Reporter

It takes determination, originality, and professionalism to be a true leader. It also takes patience and humility. The American Public Works Association (APWA) acknowledges these qualities with its annual Top Ten Public Works Leaders program. This year's leaders measure up.

From working in 55 different countries to leading one town through 35 years of changes, these public works leaders display all of the qualities one looks for. Perhaps the most common trait among this year's 10 is that they serve the agenda of the common citizen, not elected or appointed officials. The following pages will introduce these leaders, their challenges, solutions, projects, and thoughts on the public works profession.