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Municipal Spotlight Energetic Riedle Adjusting to His Role as DPW Director

Jesse Riedle has settled in nicely as Bellingham’s DPW Directo

Bulletin Staff Writer
Jesse Riedle has been on the job as Bellingham’s Department of Public Works director for one year, and its seems like he’s settling into that role very nicely.
The 35-year-old, who succeeded Don DiMartino after he retired last March, has overseen several major projects since he took the DPW reins. Two very visible undertakings are the completion of widening the downtown intersection at Routes 126 and 140 and the reconstruction of South Main Street.
“Both those projects have greatly helped with our traffic flow,’’ Riedle said, “but the credit should go to Don DiMartino for his planning and design.’’
Three other improvements that Riedle has overseen in his first year are the replacement of well No. 12 at Cliff Road; the preliminary design, engineering and permitting for improved treatment at the Hartford Avenue water filtration facility; and new sidewalks at various locations.
“Replacement of well No. 12 will increase the amount of water available and also improve the quality of raw water,’’ Riedle offered. “The anticipated work at the Hartford Avenue plant will also increase water quality; and new sidewalks will improve infrastructure and provide more pedestrian safety.’’
When Riedle was hired in 2018, he began as a facility foreman, focusing on water treatment, water storage tanks and wells, and the sewer pumping stations. Two years later, in 2020, he was promoted to Assistant DPW Director. During his three years assisting DiMartino, Riedle’s top priority was to improve the quality of drinking water by reducing the amount of TTHM (by-products of organics and chlorine). 
“We succeeded in that mission, lowering the amount of TTHM to an acceptable level by refining treatment techniques,’’ he noted. “Before arriving in Bellingham, I worked for the Holden DPW for four years as a water operator.’’
Riedle has listed seven areas he hopes to maintain, improve or upgrade in his second year. That list includes water, roads, parks, trash pick-up, snow removal, sewerage and stormwater control.
“Water quality is the front-runner,’’ Riedle emphasized. “We’ll aim to acquire federal and state grants. Roadway improvement is high on the list, and that’s an area where we also can get grants to lessen the burden on taxpayers. We’ll also push for upgrades at our parks, which include Silver Lake, Arcand Park, Richardson, and High Street. We’ll strive to keep snow removal and road salting at a high level.
“Trash pick-up is a comprehensive program that not only includes recyclables, but also disposal of appliances, and bulky (burnable) items. Residents can also dispose of heavy metal items and mattresses (two per year). The recycling center will accept electronics, tires, and propane tanks.’’
Ten sewerage pumping stations and stormwater will also be monitored. “We want to stay ahead of any major repairs and oversee an aging sewerage system,’’ Riedle said. “And we want to reduce any negative by-products in our stormwater system.’’
Directing a department that includes five managers, 22 DPW employees and three clerical employees, Riedle enjoys serving the public and handling a director’s challenges and responsibilities.
“I like public involvement and the need to increase public safety,’’ he said. “It’s important to create positive improvements in town, and I’m thankful for the staff I have to make any necessary upgrades. I’m eager to hear concerns from the public and to prioritize their issues by getting the funding to remedy what’s on their minds.’’
Riedle will continue to work closely with other town departments to assist with their objectives and requests. “We have a mostly new crew of DPW employees, along with some experienced veterans who are dedicated and eager to make a difference,’’ he said. “I’m just thankful to be a part of it.’’
“We’ll continue to communicate effectively with the schools on snow removal,’’ he noted. “We’ll respond quickly to police requests about safety issues and when the fire department needs plowing done for street access or at various municipal parking lots. We’ll monitor the senior center and library parking lots for whatever is needed, and we’ll continue to assist at the Taft Museum when needed.’’
Riedle is indeed a people person, and that quality shines brightly when he discusses the attributes he believes are necessary to direct a DPW.
“Patience is very important,’’ he said. “I try to be more patient and meet people where they’re at. I’ll strive to be objective by seeing other points of view. A willingness to learn is a key because there’s always room to grow, especially with changing regulations. Dedication is a must if a director wants to see projects completed, and drive is a plus. That helps one to push forward and not to take no for an answer to a nagging issue.’’
Riedle suggests that residents call the office to alert the DPW if drinking water is discolored, if road signs are missing, or if traffic lights are malfunctioning.  
Crediting DiMartino for refining his skills, Riedle describes his predecessor as “dedicated and a great leader.’’
Jesse Riedle gets high marks for his rookie year as DPW Director, and he’s intent on maintaining high standards in all the areas that fall under his department’s umbrella.
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