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  • MPC 400 Community Media II

Staggs Sets the Standard for Water Operators in Michigan


Jerry Staggs- Water Operator of the Year

Director of the Department of Public Works, Jerry Staggs poses with his award from the Michigan Rural Water Association for "Water Operator of the Year." Photo by Stuart Donlan

OLIVET – In a state celebrated for its Great Lakes and freshwater, Olivet stands out for its unwavering commitment to clean water. At the forefront of this success stands Jerry Staggs, Director of the Department of Public Works, who recently won Operator of the Year from the Michigan Rural Water Association. 

 

“I was a little surprised. I knew my clerk has put me in for it, but the wonderful part was they all knew before I did,” said Staggs. “It’s kind of nice, you know, being recognized by your peers at the same time cause they also had to sign off on it.”

 

Staggs embraces the commitment to clean water in the city and enjoys what he does. His oversight of the treatment processes and testing have set the standard for other water operators statewide. 

 

“People don’t realize all you have to do to be a water operator. He’s had to take lots of classes and get licensing at different levels, and it’s all paid off because he’s doing very well,” said Laura Barlond-Maas, mayor of Olivet. 

 

The Water Operator position plays a major role in keeping residents safe in a city and protecting public health. “They have hours trained and workshops to make sure that they know how to run all of the water treatment equipment. They’re the ones that are testing wells and making sure that everything with the water treatment plant is functioning,” said Erin Pavloski, assistant professor of environmental science at The University of Olivet.  “It’s all of the work that he does, and puts in the time and effort that really allows that kind of person to get the top water operator of the year.”

 

Staggs has been water licensed since 2006 and under his leadership, Olivet has consistently passed state water quality standards. Through daily, monthly, and annual testing, Staggs and his staff ensure that the water is safe and clean for the city of Olivet. “I don’t get ahead of myself,” said Staggs. “I don’t hurry what I do. I like to be thorough. I like to be sure that either the state is on board or my council members are on board.”

 

Staggs work is not isolated to just being the water operator in Olivet, but he also holds the position in Springport. “In a small town, we don’t have separate departments for everything. Jerry not only takes care of our water system and keeps everything running good, he does so much more,” said Amy Huepenbacker, the clerk and treasurer of Olivet who nominated Staggs for the award. “In my letter of recommendation, I said in a small town so many things can get overlooked. Not only is he a good water operator; he takes care of this entire city.”


By Stuart Donlan and Taylor Wilsey

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