Public Works sees new graduates from Citizens Academy program

Published 8:33 pm Monday, May 15, 2023

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Nearly two dozen Suffolk residents just completed a four-week program educating them about the operations within the city’s public works department.

The academy also allowed them to interact and learn from public works’ upper management and directors

Thursday, May 11 was graduation day for the 27 people taking part in the second annual Public Works Citizens Academy, a free four-week program that began April 20. Participants gathered at Suffolk Public Works operations headquarters for the ceremony.

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The graduation session started with a full tour of public works, showing aspects such as traffic operations, sign construction, mosquito control and more. Citizens were provided with time to ask questions. 

Following the tour, two presentations were held by Traffic Engineering Manager Jason Souders and Stormwater/Development Manager Erin Rountree, respectively, who both provided information from their departments as the citizens ate lunch. 

Final remarks were delivered by Deputy City Manager Kevin Hughes and Director of Public Works Robert E. Lewis, with citizens receiving a certificate of completion along with a City of Suffolk public works challenge coin and a street sign named in their honor.

Academy graduate Karen Damari, who recently moved to Suffolk, called the academy “fantastic.”

“I wanted to learn about how the city functions,” Damari said. “It was above and beyond what I expected.”

Suffolk citizen Tammy Epps, who attended the academy’s first program in 2022, praised Public Works Community Outreach Coordinator Wayne Jones and the rest of the public works group, calling them “family.” 

Epps praised the program.

“It educated me,” she said. “It was informative and it’s something that you never get tired of.”

Suffolk residents Ken Nieman and Timothy Lane also had positive things to say about the program following their graduation. 

“I enjoyed it, I was surprised at how well it was put on,” Nieman said. “I learned a lot.”

Likewise Lane, who also is a new city resident, spoke on how he “wanted to get a bit of understanding” of the public works department.

“I thought it was great, a good use of time,” Lane said. “I’m impressed with the teamwork. [I’m] more confident on how things run.”

The listed 2023 academy graduates are Cat Amory, Walter Amory, Ali Anderson, Trent Branch, Karen Damari, Tammy Epps, Ann Harris, Sherri Johnston, Arthalia Kahan, Ed Kapinus, Sandra Knight, Yasmin Knight, Jasmin Lane, Tamia Lane, Timothy Lane, Lynn Lassiter, Jodi Lee, Rachel Lewis, Mary Mason, Michael Miller, Ken Nieman, Toni Pridgen, Jan Pruden, Andy Roth, Christopher Sershon, Eryn Siegel and G. Stewart Tyler.

Director of Public Works Robert E. Lewis said this year’s academy program “went very well.”

“We set out our goal of pulling back the curtain for citizens to see the internal operations of Public Works,” Lews said.

Lewis shared one final message to the residents of Suffolk. “We are here to serve them and their fellow citizens,” he said.