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Murray Journal

Czeching out. Public Works Director Danny Astill retires to serve abroad

Aug 03, 2022 08:26PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

First, New Zealand beckoned for Murray City’s fire chief earlier this year, and now the Czech Republic has called on Public Works Director Danny Astill. Astill has led the Public Works Department since 2018 and announced his retirement to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in central Europe.

“All of my life, I have had the goal to retire at age 65 and for my wife and me to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ, together,” Astill said. “I have been blessed to work for Murray City for 27 years and have loved and appreciated working with the many employees and elected officials. I was really tempted to change my plans and stay specifically to work with the new administration and council, but I know I need to continue with my lifelong plan and goals and feel good about leaving, knowing that the city is in good hands.”

In 1994, Astill took over the role of Murray City water superintendent. His responsibilities included managing both the Water and Wastewater Divisions in the city.

At that time, Murray City had 18 culinary water wells and seven springs, with about 185 miles of transmission and distribution water lines transporting an average of about 2.85 billion gallons of water annually. In addition, the Wastewater Division had about 125 miles of sewer lines and four sewer lift stations that conveyed about 1.45 billion gallons of water to the Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility each year.

When Mayor Blair Camp was elected, he appointed public works chief Doug Hill as the city’s chief administrative officer; Astill took his place. During Astill’s time as Public Works director, the demands for Murray City resources have increased and become more complex with a prolonged drought. He reflects that he achieved many long-term goals under his watch.

“In the last few years, the Public Works staff has been able to secure over 12 million dollars in funding from various sources for a number of projects throughout the city. We collaborated with five of our surrounding communities to identify and develop an active transportation plan that will serve as a frame to guide the city and add more active transportation elements where identified, and made significant infrastructure upgrades to our water, wastewater, and stormwater systems that will continue to provide essential services for many years to come,” Astill said.

In 2021, Astill and other city department heads asked the city’s elected leaders to place a moratorium on the number of commercial properties being flipped to mixed-use development. With the added burden on the city’s infrastructure, city departments felt they needed to evaluate what they could and couldn’t handle regarding high-density development.

“In the last couple of years, we have made great strides in our ability to service and maintain our existing utility infrastructure. However, with the significant escalation of costs to repair and replace infrastructure, which ranges between 30 and 50%, I fear that without continued funding opportunities, some needed projects will be delayed for years,” Astill said.

At the July 5 city council meeting, a joint resolution by the mayor and city council thanked Astill for his years of service to the community. Mayor Brett Hales announced that Streets and Stormwater Superintendent Russ Kakala will assume Astill’s post.

“The new director is a colleague and a friend. I think the main piece of advice would be to keep learning and looking for ways to improve how public works, work. To never be afraid of change, but don’t change just for the sake of change,” Astill said.

Astill still wishes he could have helped the city more, but there were limitations on what the city could do.

“I think the hardest part of being the director is saying no to citizens. That we cannot fix every piece of sidewalk and curb, or resurface a road in the time frames that they want it done, and trying to help them understand that there are constraints on what we can do,” Astill said.

The Astills’ church mission assignment will be “member and leader support,” helping to teach, train, and support the church members and assist the young full-time missionaries in the Czech/Slovak Mission.