The Genesee Valley Branch of the American Public Works Association New York Chapter today honored three Genesee County municipal professionals and the Ellicott Trail walking/bicycle path project team with awards for 2020 during a ceremony via Zoom videoconferencing.
This year’s APWA award winners include:
- Timothy Hens, Genesee County highway superintendent and engineer, Public Works Leader of the Year;
- Thomas Lichtenthal, Town of Batavia assistant engineer and highway superintendent, Professional Manager of the Year/Transportation;
- Steven Carroll, Village of Le Roy water/wastewater superintendent and plant operator, Charles Walter Nichols Award for excellence in the environmental field.
- Ellicott Trail, the 4.9-mile venture of the Town and City of Batavia and Genesee County, Project of the Year, Small Cities/Rural Communities.
Peter Vars, left, president of the Genesee Valley Branch of the APWA New York Chapter, and Timothy Hens.
Hens has served Genesee County since 1998 following five years of success as an engineer in the Air Force, where he served as a civil engineer, transportation and facility design engineer and chief of engineering at three different bases. He also traveled to the Middle East where he oversaw construction in seven different countries as an environmental compliance officer, and worked closely with the United Nations in dealing with hazardous waste in Iraq.
The APWA noted that he is well-respected at the local, state and national levels and acknowledged his many accomplishments during his 22 years as Genesee County highway superintendent, and director of facilities, county airport and parks.
Per the nomination:
“Tim’s influence extends beyond the county level as an active member of the state County Highway Superintendents’ Association (he was its president in 2014). He was president of the National Association of County Engineers in 2019, where he worked closely with other county leaders across the nation to advocate for the importance of local infrastructure. His connections have helped bring funding sources to local governments across NYS.”
His accomplishments in Genesee County include: leading a $52 million countywide water system improvement project that expanded public water to hundreds of households and businesses; another $90 million countywide water system expansion that is ongoing; a $25 million project to upgrade the Genesee County Airport; and the $9.2 million County Sheriff’s Office administration building and emergency communications facility project.
In accepting the award, Hens said “I’m only able to accept the award because I have tremendous staff and family behind me. Public works, obviously, takes a lot of time from your schedule. Sometimes you get called out at 1 in the morning and you don’t get back home until 12 o’clock at night the next day, and your family is wondering where you are the whole time.”
He credited his project managers and staff, and his deputies – Paul Osborn, Dave Wozniak and Laura Wadhams – and Fleet Maintenance Supervisor Chris Klein, Airport Manager Jason Long, and front office staff of Laura Mullen and Lisa Grice.
“These are the people that I lean on heavily and, quite honestly, it’s relationships like that that let you get the work done,” he said. “Our staff at the highway department all the way down to the flagmen that we hire for the summer do an outstanding job and really allow us to do what we do.”
Hens emphasized the strong relationships that Genesee County has forged over the years with other highway superintendents and the numerous consultants, engineers and architects that contract with the county on various projects.
“Without these relationships, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said.
Vars and Thomas Lichtenthal
Lichtenthal was recognized for his “exceptional leadership and management” of the transportation-related Ellicott Trail project and for his many achievements in the public transportation field.
He has served the Town of Batavia for the past 10 years, and prior to that was a consulting transportation engineer. He worked on many notable public works projects, such as the University Avenue Art Walk and the Stutson Street Bridge in Rochester.
More recently, he has managed the successful completion of projects in the Batavia area, including the Ellicott Trail, the Ag-Park Drive and the Kiwanis Park inclusive playground.
APWA officials cited his “visionary leadership, commitment and dedication” over his career, noting that he has a variety of duties as a Town of Batavia employee.
Per his nomination:
“A large part of his current duties are managing engineering projects, planning snow and ice removal schedules, and budgeting for new equipment and personnel, but other duties may find him in the field on a backhoe, digging a new drainage ditch or trying to repair a service vehicle or truck that has broken down in the field.”
As he accepted the award, Lichtenthal thanked three people, specifically, and all of the town, county and city workers who pulled together to make the Ellicott Trail a reality.
“There are three key people who taught me a lot about engineering and project management,” he said. “My mentor out of college, George Mason … who taught me to pay attention to the details … Wilson Ballard, the CEO of the first company I worked for … who said to always be focused on the big picture … make sure you’re heading in the right direction … and my wife, Jean, who taught me about teamwork and about what it takes to make a project work – the people.”
Vars and Steven Carroll
Carroll was honored for his expertise and perseverance in managing staff needs and aging infrastructure to troubleshooting operational issues at the Village of Le Roy wastewater plant on Red Mill Road.
A Retsof resident, Carroll has worked in Le Roy for six years following a 13-year stint at the Livingston County Water & Sewer Authority.
In 2017, he was named Operator of the Year by the New York Water Environment Association for turning around an underperforming wastewater plant, and, according to APWA officials, he continues to consistently go above and beyond when it comes to preserving the community’s clean waterways.
Per his nomination:
“(Steve) has shown leadership while managing through a loss of an assistant operator and helping his remaining staff members obtain their operator’s licenses. He is a problem-solver who took a multitasked approach to tackling a bacterial foaming problem at his plant and also an illegal source of septage into his system. Professionalism and performance of his duties are a true benefit to the Le Roy community and our collective environment.”
In accepting the award, Carroll thanked his wife, Lonni, employees Rob Semmel and Andre Carmel, and the Village of Le Roy for their support.
“This was really a big surprise,” he said. “It’s one thing to know you’re doing your best, but it’s completely an honor for someone to say, ‘Hey, good job, you’re doing it the right way.’ ”
The award was established in 1951 by Charles Walter Nichols of Nichols Engineering Research Corporation to recognize outstanding and meritorious achievement in the environmental field in its broadest sense. Eligibility includes those who work in disciplines such as disposal and recycling, sewers and sewage treatment, water supply, and water treatment.
Vars presents award to Steve Mountain, surrounded by members of the Ellicott Trail project team.
ELLICOTT TRAIL PROJECT TEAM
APWA officials said the $1.6 million Ellicott Trail is “a true example of public-private partnership with collaboration between four public agencies, engineering consultants and numerous citizens.”
Barton & Lojuidice assisted on a preliminary design, while the Town of Batavia handled the final design and right-of-way coordination. The 10-foot wide, 4.9-mile trail features on- and off-road elements, including three new bridges, with a section that goes through Elmwood Cemetery and winds through two parks.
The state Department of Transportation provided local project oversight, Ravi Engineering provided on-site construction and quality control; and Keeler Construction built two of the bridges. The third was donated and constructed by Genesee County.
The trail was paid for by the Town and City of Batavia, Federal Highway Administration, the DOT and New York State.
Steve Mountain, Town of Batavia engineer, accepted the award on behalf of the entire project team.
“So much as gone into this community project over the last seven years,” he said. “To that end, this award is very gratifying and humbling for everyone involved. The project began with the community and it ended with a very satisfied and appreciative community.”
Mountain mentioned the trail’s picturesque rural setting, and acknowledged Keeler Construction along with city, town and county workers for their roles in keeping the cost down.
“And, of course, it wouldn’t have been a success without all of our partners,” he concluded, thanking the DOT, Genesee Transportation Council, Ray Tourt and the City of Batavia, Hens and Genesee County, Chad Zambito, Tony Mancuso, Pete Zeliff, the entire steering committee and the town’s engineering staff.
The Genesee Valley Branch of the APWA New York Chapter covers six counties – Genesee, Orleans, Livingston, Monroe, Wayne and Ontario. Its 100 members are public works professionals, consultants, contractors and vendors. It is one of five branches in New York.
For more information, go to its website – www.newyork.apwa.net.