The new field office for the Waxahachie Utility Department opened Tuesday, celebrating a long-awaited moment for city staff. Community leaders thanked the team for their dedication as they welcomed them into the new home.
Michael Scott, city manager, stated it was a proud day for Waxahachie made possible by the work of many people.
“About a year ago, the city council said to me the building that the utility department is in is pretty inadequate. They said, ‘your priority number one is to get this building done,’” Scott said. “I am proud to say it took 11 months. I am happy to be here today and very proud to get this building dedicated.”
Scott praised the members of the utility department for the hard work and commitment they bring to the job every day.
“You will never meet more dedicated folks,” Scott said. “I know this because David Bailey (director of utilities) has called me in the middle of the night saying, ‘Michael we have got a water line break, but don’t worry the guys are on it.’”
The new building is around 4,000 square feet. It features a large break room that can double as a meeting room, showers, storage space for equipment, and offices.
Alvin Henson, a water field supervisor, feels the new building gives employees a lot more confidence as they do their job.
“I remember right at 16 years ago when I came to the city, hearing that we are going to get a new building," Henson said. "Now that it has finally happened, it is a morale booster for sure."
Henson explained the new meeting space is valuable because it allows for crews to plan out the day’s work or have safety meetings. He added there is a space for everything, whereas before things were stacked on top of each other.
The former office had about 16 employees that operated out of an approximately 750-foot space. Field operations for water distribution, wastewater collection, and utility line and locate were done out of the old building.
“The [old] building is deteriorating. It is basically splitting apart. It has one, single break room. There are not emergency showers in the facility,” Bailey previously said. “There are even times that, in the nature of our business, they do get into things that you really don’t want to go home and shower in. So they have to stand outside and hose off.”
Bailey stated the main room of the old building housed offices, utility map storage, a kitchen, a break room, and restrooms. The break area also served as a place for training. Structural issues started to become more prevalent with a crack that had formed on the backside of the building and was widening.
Bailey thanked the city staff and council for helping to make the new building a reality. He noted the team was ready to move.
“We certainly appreciate Michael and the council for following through in providing us the resources to get this facility,” Bailey said. “As Michael mentioned, these are the folks that are out there day and night, winter, summer, rainfall or hail. They are a special group of guys, and we are really looking to get you guys into this new home.”
The new field office is located in the 300 block of Clift Street.