WOODSTOCK – Woodstock has selected Lakewood’s current public works director to fill the same position for the city, ending a nine-month search.
Paul Ruscko will take over as the head of Woodstock public works starting in mid-August. He replaces longtime director John Isbell, who retired from the city in November, but served in an advisory role during the spring budget season.
“[Isbell] was there for about 30 years,” Ruscko said. “So this opportunity doesn’t come around every day.”
Ruscko, of McHenry, will take over a full-time equivalent staff of 49 employees. He managed six or seven employees in Lakewood.
His public works budget also jumps from about $2.5 million in Lakewood to a Woodstock public works budget that comes in at about $6 million each year.
The public works department includes seven divisions: streets, parks, water treatment, wastewater treatment, sewer and water maintenance, fleet maintenance and administration.
Ruscko said he was excited to work with the division heads and with Jeff Van Landuyt, the assistant public works director who has served as interim director since November. The director’s hiring was delayed over the winter while the city searched for a new city manager.
“They’re going to look for direction and leadership, which I will provide,” Ruscko said. “But I’ll lean on them equally.”
City Manager Roscoe Stelford said Ruscko was selected in large part for his leadership ability and experience in public works.
He added that his ties to the area also were a factor. Ruscko was a part of several Woodstock projects when he served as project manager for Baxter & Woodman Engineering before taking the job with Lakewood.
“It definitely played a role in the decision,” Stelford said. “He had experience and knowledge with regard to several of Woodstock’s facilities and decisions.”