The second-in-command in the town’s public works department has been chosen to take over the post of longtime Public Works Director Joe Michelangelo, who left for a job with the town of Fairfield last August.
George Noewatne, Cheshire’s deputy director of public works/operations manager since 2004, has been running the department as acting director since Michelangelo’s departure.
He will earn $102,600 annually in the new position, where he will oversee the departments of public property, public works and wastewater control and a combined $9.5 million budget.
Cheshire Town Manager Michael Milone said Noewatne has committed "countless hours to doing whatever it takes to get the job done, such as working 14-hour shifts to assist with snow removal efforts when our town crews were shorthanded."
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"I am confident that George Noewatne’s extensive public works experience, skills and knowledge will provide this department with strong, progressive and responsible leadership," Milone said in a statement.
Hiring Noewatne meant making some changes to the job description for the position, which previously combined the duties of the public works director and the town engineer.
Since the town charter requires the town engineer to have a professional engineer’s license, which Noewatne lacks, the Town Council Tuesday night moved that portion of the job to the operations manager post, which was formerly held by Noewatne.
The new operations manager/town engineer will report to Noewatne, whose title was changed to Director of Public Works and Engineering. Town officials have identified a candidate for that position and are expected to announce it as early as today.
Milone told the Town Council Tuesday night that he always felt the span of responsibility for the public works director position was too broad and needed to be streamlined. He said the changes could result in salary savings of between $20,000 and $30,000 because of the lower pay rates for the two positions.
Noewatne was chosen from among a field of eight candidates, said Personnel Director Lou Zullo. He has 13 years of construction experience, including four years with the Army Corps of Engineers. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a master’s in business administration from the University of Connecticut.
"It was a long process to go through the interviews and with the job descriptions having to change in my case, but I’m very happy and very honored to be selected by Michael and the Town Council and everybody else who was involved," Noewatne said Thursday.
Noewatne said now that the department will be fully staffed, he hopes to focus on long-term planning, which also includes planning next summer’s road repaving projects.
His appointment also comes as Cheshire is in the midst of launching a new single-stream recycling program and is preparing to start construction on a $32.15 million upgrade to the town’s aging sewage treatment plant.
"We have a tremendous team that was left to me by the old director and I’m honored to be associated with such a talented, dedicated bunch of folks," he said. "I’m looking forward to improving our operations so we’re an asset to the town of Cheshire and the taxpayers."
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