Downtown worker to be more than custodian

Published 6:55 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The person being hired to keep Washington’s downtown clean will be doing much more than emptying trashcans and picking up litter, according to City Manager Bobby Roberson.

“We’re developing a list of duties and responsibilities for that person,” Roberson said. “Right now, we’re looking at the person being the point person for special events instead of the dockmaster. This person would take care of things related to special events. It makes sense to do it that way than have the dockmaster take care of those things. … If a circuit breaker trips (on one of the electrical pods used at some events), this person could take care of that because there’s no need to have the dockmaster take care of that.”
Two city employees are seeking the new position, along with four other applicants, Roberson said. “We’ll probably make a decision and hire someone by the end of the month,” he said. If the person hired is not a city employee, that person likely would begin the job right away, Roberson said. If a city employee gets the position, that employee likely would have to make the transition from the current job to the new position over a period of a week or two, he noted.

The city’s budget allocates $31,436 in salary and benefits for that position. The new employee will take care of the area from Second Street south to the north side of Stewart Parkway between Gladden and Bonner streets.

The idea of the “downtown employee” was mentioned and discussed during the council’s planning retreat in April, during which council members, city staff and department heads talked about enhancing the city’s tourism efforts — especially marketing the city as a multi-day destination instead of a day-trip locale. The discussion ranged from making the city’s downtown cleaner and more visually appealing to a fueling station for boats at the waterfront to developing a plan to draw more visitors to the city and implementing that plan as an economic-development tool.

Roberson said the city is considering having the “downtown” worker power washing some downtown sidewalks early in the mornings on a regular basis, along with the tasks of emptying trash cans and keeping grass from growing up between brick pavers and cracks in sidewalks, concrete areas and asphalt. Other duties likely will include watering hanging baskets along Main Street, if the City Council approves that project. A woman, who asked not to be identified, is willing pay for the hanging baskets and brackets to place them on 12 city-owned poles. Watering the plants would be the city’s only responsibility under the terms of the offer. The city is evaluating the offer. The City Council could act on a memorandum of understanding that would spell out in detail the responsibilities of the city and the woman so both parties know what is expected of them.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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