In a sense, Bill Ebron has been here before.
The 40-year-old who has been working with the city of Havelock since 1995 has just been given a promotion to director of the Public Services Department.
He replaces Dan Harbaugh, who resigned in July to take another position.
Ebron has served as interim public services director since Harbaugh left and at other times when the position was unfilled. He has been assistant public services director since 2010.
"One of the benefits for me taking this role is that there really is no learning curve," he said. "I was able to step into something that I was already a part of. A lot of the residents already know me. I know most or all of the problems that we are faced with, so I can hit the ground running."
Ebron, a native of the Riverdale community just west of Havelock, is a 1990 graduate of Havelock High School and a 1994 graduate of East Carolina University.
"Public service is the heart and soul of the city of Havelock," Ebron said. "Public services is here to serve. That’s what our job is, to serve our community. That involves everything from the water coming from their tap to the sewage going out, to the water in their ditches, to the trash going out to the streets that they drive on."
Ebron will be in charge of a department of 35 employees, with whom he has already established relationships.
"We have a good bunch of guys. I’m proud of my guys, and all of them are always willing to help in any situation," he said. "We look forward to the future."
Chief on Ebron’s list of responsibilities will be the relocation of the city’s sewer discharge pipe from Slocum Creek to the Neuse River, an $11.4 million project that is expected to start in earnest next year.
"I understand how this is going to benefit the community with increased capacity of the sewer plant itself," Ebron said. "It’s a step for the future of Havelock being able to have that ability to increase that capacity when the time comes."
The project is designed to take the city’s current sewer capacity at 1.9 million gallons per day to 2.25 million gallons per day, clearing the way for potential growth in Havelock. The move also brings the sewage treatment plant up to full capacity.
The project will be the largest that Ebron has overseen. In 1998, the city completed a $6.4 million upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant while he was supervisor of the plant.
The new six-mile discharge pipe will stretch across Cherry Point to the Neuse River. Prequalification interviews with construction companies bidding for work on the project are up next, with verification of potential bidders set for November. Once started, the project could last about 15 months.
"It looks like everything is falling into place for us," Ebron said.
Ebron said another area of focus will be reduction of inflow and infiltration, such as rainwater, into the sewer system. That includes video and smoke testing to find leaks.
"Some of our biggest culprits are broken cleanouts in people’s yards," Ebron said. "They are not usually big in nature generally, but if you looked all over the city, a couple of drops there and a couple of drops there, by the time you add up everything you’re looking at four or five thousand gallons a day going to the sewer plant that’s unnecessary.
"Will you ever solve it 100 percent? Absolutely not. My only goal is trying to hold it down to an acceptable level. It’s always a never-ending battle with aging infrastructure that’s under the ground. The efforts that are put into that are cheaper than building capacity onto the plant."
On the water side, Ebron said the city’s recent acquisition of the Fleet Reserve property on Webb Boulevard is a "game changer" for the city. The property is next to the city’s water plant on Brown Boulevard.
"That will allow us tremendous opportunity for the future, so that when we want to expand that water plant, we now have the property to do it," Ebron said.
Ebron wants to make collection of yard debris as well as bulk brown and white trash items more efficient.
"We’re always looking to better our process to gain more efficiency out of our process because we’ve always been asked to do more with less," Ebron said. "We’re trying to bring in as much technology as we can to be able to pinpoint where our demand is instead of having to run all over the city in these large trucks and consume fuel."
Also on Ebron’s immediate horizon is about $500,000 worth of street repairs.
In the end, he just wants to make the Public Services Department as efficient as possible.
"My philosophy is always to measure twice, cut once," Ebron said.