Kent earns IRWA award, honored by Oregon council

‘Wastewater System Operations Specialist of Year’ calls for ‘dedication to water industry’

OREGON — City of Oregon employee Dave Kent was honored Tuesday for his selection as the Illinois Rural Water Association’s “Wastewater System Operations Specialist of the Year.”

The award, which was issued June 15, is given to “an individual dedicated to the water industry,” according to an IRWA press release. The person must be selfless and give back to the industry, furthering the goals and objections of the operations and maintenance of the water treatment and distribution system.

“Congratulations! This is great,” Mayor Ken Williams said as he presented Kent a certificate of appreciation. “This is absolutely super, and we’re very proud of what you’ve done for the city. What a great reputation for the city of Oregon.”

Kent, the Water and Wastewater Department manager, said he was “very honored” to receive the IRWA award and “very humbled” by the council’s acknowledgement.

“As you know, these awards cannot be obtained by a single person,” he said. “So I would like to recognize some of the people that have helped in obtaining this award.”

Kent thanked the city council members for their cooperation, noting that that makes things much easier. He also thanked office personnel for dealing with the paperwork and turmoil that comes with the department’s projects and the engineers for their support.

“My wife and daughter,” Kent said, then paused for several seconds to compose himself. “Sometimes, sometimes I bring my work home with me.”

He also expressed gratitude for his coworkers, Jeff Pennington and Scott Wallace. This wouldn’t have happened without them, Kent said.

“You’ve got a great team out there, and it is teamwork,” Williams said. “I know I’ve driven by in the middle of winter when it’s been colder than you-know-what and here they are down in the hole digging a water main out.

“So both to you and your families who have to put up with it — we thank them for that too because it makes our city what it is,” he said.

Public Properties Commissioner Melanie Cozzi was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, but prepared a written statement read by City Administrator Darin DeHaan.

“It is no surprise that Dave is the recipient of this award,” Cozzi wrote. “He is committed to the highest standard of water treatment. This job takes 24/7 attention to detail and careful oversight. From your well, to your tap and then to the Rock River, you can be sure that the best water management practices are used 100% of the time.”