Get to know the town: Public Works Director Mark Whitfield

After an almost two year vacancy, the public works director position for the city of Milford has been filled. Mark Whitfield, originally from Pennsylvania, took the position over the summer.
Read more in this week’s Get to know the town:

Name: Mark Whitfield

Age: 59-years-old

Hometown: Born in Lebanon, PA

Occupation: City of Milford Public Works Director

Educational background: Associates and Bachelor’s degrees from Penn State

mc-qa-markTell us about your experience?

“We moved to Saxton, PA when I was four-years-old, that’s where I grew up. I went to a tiny high school called Tussey Mountain. I went to college for two years at Penn State and then back to Saxton where I worked in private consulting doing land survey and some bridge design for four or three years. Then I had a job with the town of State College. I spent 35 years there. “First, I was a draftsman surveyor. After a year, I was promoted to designer and was in that role for about four years. I was promoted to operations manager and oversaw all the fleet, buildings and grounds. I was in that role until 1997, so about 10 years. Then, I was promoted to the role of assistant public works director for a year. Then director for 18 years.”

What was it like working there?

“Being in a university town, it was challenging. I had a mayor, Arnold Addison… he used to say state college had more experts per square mile than any other place in the nation. I enjoyed it, it was a good place to work. I had an associate degree from Penn State and that was the whole reason I took the job so I could further my education. They had a tuition reimbursement program. It took me 14 years to do it but I did it.”

What are your bobbies?

“I’m very heavily involved in Rotary International. For a long time, I have been involved with youth exchange. I was the district chairman for district 7360. It’s funny because I moved from 7360 to 7630 which is the Delmarva region. I would say a lot of my free time was spent in dealing with exchange students and the paperwork involved with them. I’m also what we refer to as a country contact for Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Romania and the Ukraine. So, we have 35 rotary districts and we all pull out resources together to help make these exchanges happen. Any kid going to those countries have to go through me, same for any kid coming to the north east. These are high school students. I just had a boy, as a matter of fact, come through Argentina who was placed down in Seaford.”

Why are you involved in the Rotary?

“Whenever you talk to someone about their thoughts on world peace, everyone’s for world peace. But when you talk to them and say, ‘What are you doing about it?’ That’s what I can say I do. Once the kids learn the cultures from another place, they’re a lot less likely to want to go to war.  It’s a huge barrier that we, as Americans, don’t understand all the time. Same for the folks coming from overseas.

What else do you like to do?

“I like to garden… both vegetable gardening and flowers. I like to do home improvement types of things. Remodeling, I do most of my own electrical remodeling, etc… I like vacationing to the beach, which was a real draw coming to Milford.”

Can you tell us about your family?

“I’m divorced. I have two children. Nathan is 29. He has a Bachelor’s from Penn State. He’s now pursuing a nursing diploma to go with that. My daughter Erin is 31, she’s a unit secretary for the local hospital in State College. My parents still living, so that was another draw to moving to Milford as opposed to moving to some other place. They’re now four hours away; both are in their 80s.”

As a new Milfordian, what are your thoughts?
I like the rural setting; it’s a slower pace than what I’m used to which is a good thing. I was looking for something that would not be quite as stressful as what I was in. My first realization of why I liked Milford was the kids coming back to college. Here, it’s beach traffic. Up there, it’s traffic for football games. And I’ve come to the realization that things are much more spread down here. The Lowes was four miles from my house up there and 20 minutes to get there. Here, it’s 11.5 miles from my house and it takes 15 minutes to get there. I’m also not quite used to waking up to the sound of crop dusters in the morning.”

What’s new and upcoming?

“The smart metering is the big project that we’ll be rolling out with probably in the spring. It will obviously be a big tool for us and the residents to monitor their usage. It’ll show the peaks are demands as well, and it’ll tie that in with the water so we’ll be able to tell you instantaneously if you have something going haywire. And Airport Road will hopefully be done by the end of June of next year, too.”

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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