(Joplin, MO) – After serving the City of Joplin for more than 40 years, Joplin Public Works Director David Hertzberg, P.E., will retire on April 4. Hertzberg began his career with the City as a part-time employee working in the City’s sign shop and has held several positions before serving as Director for the Department for nearly 15 years.
After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering, he was hired full-time as a Civil Engineer for the City. He was promoted to Assistant Director of Public Works in 1997, and then promoted to the Director position in 2004.
During his tenure with the City, Hertzberg experienced many successes as he supervised staff working in transportation and road management, wastewater, solid waste removal, City facilities, and Joplin air service at our regional airport.
He worked on the educational efforts of the City’s proposed Parks/Stormwater Sales tax initiative in 2001, in which the City outlined major stormwater improvements to be completed in the downtown area to alleviate frequent flooding of businesses and other buildings in the area. With its passage, work began in 2003 on the Willow Branch stormwater project. Following this work, renovation occurred on two historic buildings downtown, including the Frisco Building Apartments and the Newman Building, which was the new home of the City of Joplin’s City Hall operations. This was later recognized for encouraging more economic development downtown. The Parks/Stormwater Sales Tax has been renewed twice, most recently in August 2021, and has provided significant funding to make stormwater improvements throughout the community. As Director, Hertzberg and the Public Works staff worked closely with Planning and Community Development and the Parks and Recreation Department to develop the early trail system throughout Joplin, which has continued to grow through the years.
Hertzberg was instrumental in the passage of the Capital Improvement Sales Tax in 2004, which included the construction of the railroad overpass project at 26th and Connecticut Avenue, as well as the improvements to the first phase of the Connecticut Avenue widening project. Connecticut Avenue has been a phased project, and Hertzberg noted that the final section of the Connecticut Avenue widening project will be completed later this year. In 2014 voters renewed this sales tax, which provided revenues for additional improvements including the widening of Zora Avenue to five lanes and the current West 32nd Street improvements that are taking place this year. As Director of the Department, Hertzberg has seen many other transportation improvements throughout the years, including several bridge projects such as the railroad overpass on 20th Street, the five-lane bridge over Turkey Creek where Zora and Schifferdecker Avenue meet, and the bridge in south Joplin that replaced the low-water bridge over Shoal Creek.
Along with transportation projects, he also oversaw major improvements with the City’s wastewater treatment plants and worked closely with the Department of Natural Resources to navigate a system that meets DNR regulations with its existing residual effects of Joplin’s mining history. During his tenure, the Turkey Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant received awards from the State recognizing their high standards in operations.
He has been a part of the air service growth in Joplin with flights to St. Louis, Dallas, and now Chicago and Denver. In the earlier part of his career at the City, he served as the Project Engineer for the airport and designed and oversaw the construction of Taxiway B and the extension of Runway 18/13, meeting the requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Following the 2011 tornado disaster, Public Works crews were immediately deployed to clear streets in the affected areas to ensure emergency vehicles could get through to assist citizens. Many state and federal officials noted that they had not seen this type of immediate access following a major disaster. As residents began their recovery work, Hertzberg helped manage the removal of over three million cubic yards of the street and private property debris removal in ten weeks, as the City worked with FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in this effort. The disaster cleanup work involved clearing more than 100 miles of streets and sewers.
He also worked on recovery projects to improve the infrastructure in neighborhoods and rebuild the four lanes of ten blocks along Main Street within one construction season, earning the department a national award with American Public Works Association.
As Joplin’s industrial parks have been developed and grown through the years, Hertzberg has been instrumental in developing needed infrastructure to these areas. He also worked closely with other departments to ensure Joplin services would be delivered to newly annexed areas, such as Silver Creek and Iron Gates areas.
“David’s extensive background in Public Works has helped the City through major projects in multiple divisions that benefit our residents and economic development efforts,” said City Manager Nick Edwards. “His knowledge and experience have been a tremendous asset to this organization. I wish him well as he moves into this next phase of his life.”
Hertzberg has been a member of the Tristate Water Resource Coalition Board since its inception, working with other communities and water utilities to secure a long-term water resource for the region. He is a member of the American Public Works Association, holding numerous offices in the organization. He is past president and continuing member of the Transportation Engineers Association of Missouri and the Southwest Chapter, Missouri Society of Professional Engineers, and is a charter member of the Southwest Missouri Joint Municipal Water Resource Utility Commission. Hertzberg is a member of the Noon Rotary Club in Joplin.
“Public Works is a part of many different areas, and it affects people’s lives every day,” said Hertzberg. “I will miss the relationships with all the friends and partners I worked with, along with the work to help the community. I want to thank God for the blessed journey I’ve had and am looking forward to where He leads me next.”
Lynn Iliff Onstot, Public Information Officer
City of Joplin
417.624.0820, ext. 1204