By Matt Sheley, Town of Middletown, October 21
Public works Director Thomas R. O’Loughlin is leaving his job with the town early next month.
Recently, the longtime head of the town’s Department of Public Works announced Nov. 6 was his last day in the position he’s held for the last 18 years. O’Loughlin said he’s planning on moving to Florida and would miss Middletown, the place he’s lived and worked and called home for decades.
“I’m doing it to focus on myself and my family,” O’Loughlin said. “It’s bittersweet. I don’t consider the people I work with co-workers, more like family and friends. I know everyone says this, but it really is hard to say goodbye. This was a serious decision that I contemplated for quite some time and I’m going to miss everyone at work and the residents I’ve gotten to know in the community.”
O’Loughlin’s pending vacancy was posted by the town today at hr.middletownri.com online. For more information, visit the town’s website and check out the job description.
Town Council President Robert J. Sylvia said it was going to be hard to see O’Loughlin go, especially considering everything he’s helped accomplish. Before O’Loughlin, the public works department was run by Robert Helmbrecht.
“Tom has been a great employee,” Sylvia said. “He is the very definition of customer service. In all the years I’ve served on the Town Council, I can’t remember one complaint about Tom, his disposition or how he handed our residents. He was a great ambassador for the town of Middletown and it’s going to be tough to see him go.”
When O’Loughlin was hired in November 2002, attention was just beginning to ramp up on environmental issues, but there was still a lot of work to do by the town. The handling of sewage and stormwater wasn’t widely discussed by most people, or on many radar screens.
But thanks to an aggressive attack by the town since, most of the biggest problem areas have been addressed with the sewage network. The community has also paved dozens of miles of road, improved the handling of rainwater runoff and taken other major steps.
“If you think about it, we’re light years ahead of where we used to be with public works,” Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said. “The projects we’re able to handle in house, the stormwater and sewer work, our roads and beaches, the list goes on and a lot of that is a credit to Tom and what he’s been able to accomplish. I’m going to miss Tom, we all are. He was exactly what you’d want as a head of your public works department.”
Asked what he was most proud of during his tenure as director of public works, O’Loughlin said the team he was able to work with really stood out.
“There’s such a team aspect here and that’s going to be tough to give up,” O’Loughlin said. “I’ve been very fortunate over the years, especially under Shawn’s leadership, he helped build a strong team that’s focused town wide and on every department, not just a select few.
“From a public works standpoint, there’s so much more awareness about sewer and stormwater and why maintaining what we have is so important. That’s a good thing and the town has been very aggressive in my 18 years addressing these issues.”
As for the future, O’Loughlin hadn’t decided on what might be next, but he welcomed the opportunity.
“I’d tell the person taking over this job that you have the opportunity to work with an amazing group of people,” O’Loughlin said. “There are definitely challenges and pressure, but when you focus on that common goal, you couldn’t ask for a better job.”