Oak Ridge Public Works Director Shira McWaters died Saturday after a short illness, the city said. She was 60.
“Today we have lost a colleague and a friend,” Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said. “Our hearts are with Shira’s husband, children, and family as we share some small measure of their grief at the loss of this vibrant woman.”
McWaters, a civil engineer who had been working for a company in Arizona, was hired by the City of Oak Ridge as public works director in 2016. She started in March that year. She replaced former Public Works Director Gary Cinder, who retired in September 2015. The Public Works Department is responsible for much of the city’s essential infrastructure, from streets to drainage to water and wastewater. The department also maintains city-owned buildings and city vehicles and equipment.
In a press release, the city said McWaters was a high-energy, involved leader who focused on maintaining the long-term viability of city facilities while protecting and improving the city’s environment.
“Some of her many accomplishments included establishing a planned program for facility capital investment and leading the charge to make upgrades at the wastewater plant, which both reduced costs and improved performance, the city said. “She also recognized the need to replace the city’s aging water filtration plant and developed strategies to do so with the least financial impact to the water rate payers.”
“Shira will long be remembered for her unique pairing of incredible intelligence, keen insight, and problem-solving skills with unending compassion,” Watson said. “Among just a handful of female public works directors in the state of Tennessee, she was a pioneer and a one-of-a-kind person who we were honored to have known.”
Patrick Berge, Public Works utility manager, has been appointed interim Public Works director while the city evaluates this important leadership position, the press release said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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