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Covington Public Works Director Retiring, Leaving City Without Two Critical Positions

Rick Davis will retire from the City of Covington as director of public works.

The news was announced at Tuesday night's city commission meeting.

The moment is bittersweet for Davis as the city has just now reached the beginning of construction of two major projects: Riverfront Commons and the Sixth and Scott streets restoration.

Davis arrived at the city in 2013.

On Aug. 31, Davis will be retiring as director of the department. The city commission was formally informed of the decision at its meeting Tuesday night and will vote next Tuesday to accept his resignation.

"It would be great to see those projects come to fruition after all the hard work," Davis said. "That's my passion - getting projects to the finish line."

But, he said, he's had a good run in Covington.

"I've had the best Public Works staff around, bar none," he said. "Their unquestionable knowledge, skills and experience out here at the Garage have really helped move the City and its infrastructure forward.

Typically, the city's public works director has an engineering background. The city is currently without a city engineer and will soon be without its top public works official, too.

City Manager David Johnston said he will be looking outside City Hall for someone to fill in during the interim while a permanent hire is sought. Johnston said the city would be contacting public works listservs, industry groups, universities, engineering firms, and others to hire some temporary workers to oversee the department in the meantime.

"We hate to see Rick leave, and he's made it really hard for us to say good-bye," Johnston said. "I'm been very impressed with his leadership in meeting the needs of citizens, and his camaraderie with the management team will be sorely missed."

Davis came to the City after a 16-year career at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, where he was branch manager of engineering support for the 11-county Northern Kentucky region.

He said he appreciated how the public infrastructure built and maintained by his department - including streets, sidewalks, and parks - contributed to the vitality of Covington and represented important components of the ongoing effort to attract economic development and talented workers and to elevate the quality of life of Covington residents.

The complete list of projects he led are too numerous to mention. But they include the early phases of Riverfront Commons, the Licking River Greenway and Trails, the Latonia Avenue reconstruction, the 3rd and Johnson renovation, repair of the 21st Street slide, the massive retaining wall above Devou Drive, Riverside Drive Phase I, and progress - in conjunction with Sanitation District No. 1 - in updating storm sewer infrastructure and building retention ponds to help alleviate flooding.

But he also is proud of the progress within the Public Works Department in ramping up efficiency, modernizing, expanding use of 21st century technology and materials, and improving interactions with residents.

This included:

  • Development of the iWorQ Service Request App, which residents can use to report things like potholes, crumbling sidewalks, and broken parks equipment.
  • More pro-active scheduling of citywide services like leaf collection, mowing, street resurfacing, and tree pruning.
  • Setting up a 10-year fleet management plan to replace vehicles and equipment, with the goal of saving money, increasing safety, and reducing down time.
  • Quicker and more efficient response to snow and ice storms.
  • Conservation-related activities, like installing energy-saving LED lights in city facilities and using dense plantings around detention ponds to slow water run-off.
  • Reassessing equipment resources to get rid of rarely used equipment like a crane, a bulldozer, and monstrous dump trucks in order to invest in equipment that is both used every day and can more easily navigate Covington's tight streets. 

"Residents should be impressed with the men and women of Public Works and all they accomplish, day after day after day," Davis said. "I'm proud that I was able to lead that department for six years, and that I will be able to look around the city and see the fruits of our work for a long time."

-Staff report