Penn proud to be Bryant city engineer

By Martin Couch

By chance of an advertisement, Richard Penn inquired about the Bryant City Engineer position in 2002 and was hired by then Mayor Paul Halley.

"I had worked as a Field Engineer for an engineering sales company where I was called upon for consulting engineers and municipalities," Penn said. "During the course of providing engineering solutions from central to northwest Arkansas, I became familiar with municipal operations and the engineering needs of cities."[more]

It was an exciting challenge for Penn.

"I most like being able to apply engineering principles and creativity to help people have a higher quality of life," he said. "I least like having to explain that, although the city has viable plans to solve problems and address needs, budget restraints prevent implementation of those measures."

Penn likes the people of Bryant and enjoys working for them. His dedication to his job and the city has given him a vision for the future of Bryant.

"The city of Bryant is listed as a Small Regulated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4), which is an unfunded Federal and State mandate of EPA and ADEQ," Penn said. "I hope to see the City Council develop a dedicated funding source for this stormwater program and for drainage improvements citywide. I also want to see the Geographical Information System (GIS) continue to grow into a comprehensive repository of data that is used by city staff to manage and maintain city infrastructure, and is also accessible via internet to residents needing information about everything to do with living, working, and enjoying the city of Bryant."

In 2007, Penn was appointed Director of Community Development and Public Works, which has been "highly rewarding.

"My time is spent with citizens individually or in public meetings connecting public resources with public needs," he said. "A big challenge is to insure that public money and time are spent on public problems, in public rights-of-way, and address public needs. Many times people are not aware of where public responsibility stops and individual responsibility begins. I spend a lot of time on the streets, in people's yards, in the creeks and ditches, in the daylight and in the middle of the night during heavy rainstorms to better understand what is happening and how to best solve problems. The tasks associated with being City Engineer and Public Works Director certainly are not limited to 40 hours per week or sitting behind a desk."

Penn is also responsible for managing a staff of 40-plus employees in the street, water, sewer, planning, code enforcement, engineering, stormwater and floodplain management.

"I hope to continue for a long time," he added.

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