Curt Spannraft

Name: John Edlebeck, PE
Title: Director of Public Works/City Engineer
Where: City of Waupaca, Wis.
Population: 6,000
What: Streets/right-of-way; water treatment and distribution; wastewater collection and treatment; forestry; traffic control; refuse collection and recycling; engineering; and buildings/grounds, fleet, lake, and stormwater management.

“John is dedicated to success, even when that means incrementally muddling through and capturing small wins,” says Mike Koles, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Community Development Educator. “Despite lack of money (funding for capital projects was eliminated for many years) and significantly subpar facilities, John just gets it done.”

Probably because he’s extraordinarily skilled at bringing shareholders together.

Edlebeck combined the earthwork for three projects — an interchange, frontage road, and airport runway — into one bid letting. In addition to saving $500,000, this got the state DOT’s Highways Division and Aeronautics Bureau working together for the first time. He also led the coordination with the state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to minimize the projects’ wetland and river impacts.

Although small, Waupaca supports significant industrial activity. A foundry employs about one-fifth of its residents, and a pharmaceutical plant has expanded several times. Edlebeck worked with shareholders to create residential, commercial, and industrial zero-stormwater-discharge developments. He also protected a local trout stream by leading a project that redirects an industrial park’s stormwater discharge via a dam in an adjacent wetland.