WARRENSBURG — Public Works Director Marvin Coleman, also known as Slim, is preparing to retire after 34 and a half years with the City of Warrensburg.
Coleman’s journey began by learning about construction from his family.
“I grew up in a construction family,” Coleman said. “My dad was a heavy-equipment operator. (He) did a lot of demolition (and) dug a lot of the foundations for several of the (University of Central Missouri) buildings.”
Coleman grew up in the Warrensburg area and began working in construction right out of high school, working on residential and light commercial construction projects in Warrensburg.
“The construction industry in ‘85, in Warrensburg, was kind of in a lull and they were advertising for a building official and inspector,” Coleman said.
Coleman applied and began working with the city as a building official. During his time as building official, he took on the responsibilities of acting-public works director for 18 months.
“It was a good mix, because I could explain what the codes were requiring to the contractors because I had worked with a lot of them over the years,” Coleman said.
In 1989, Coleman became the street superintendent, managing the maintenance and repair of streets, storm drainage, sewer line repair and snow removal.
As street superintendent, he managed a team of eight, increased sales tax revenue and reorganized the snow removal program, decreasing the municipal accident ratio.
Coleman was promoted to assistant public works director and supervisor of field operations in 2001.
Coleman managed a staff of 28 for the operations of the wastewater plant operations, sewer collections systems, street maintenance, maintenance of Sunset Hill Cemetery, building and grounds and project management.
Coleman also created a wastewater collections crew to maintain the sewer lines in town, oversaw the growth of the department and was in charge of bringing together the different sectors of the Public Works Department.
In 2010, Coleman was appointed to his current position following the retirement of former Public Works director Bob Crumb.
During his time with the city, Coleman has also served as a reserve police officer and volunteer firefighter.
Coleman has been involved in the growth of the city since becoming a member of city staff.
“It’s hard to think back about all the stuff you’ve done,” Coleman said. “It’s a blur almost because during my career I’ve done a lot of things.”
Coleman has seen Warrensburg grow and change over the years.
“I came out of the field, out of the work trades and was able to grow with the community and grow my skill set,” Coleman said. “I’ve been fortunate to work for Warrensburg.”
Coleman said some of the more memorable moments of his career include the 2011 blizzard with 24 inches of snowfall, the wayfinding signs program and the construction of the Maguire Street pedestrian overpass.
“(The overpass) was a really interesting project because we cut a hill out and put in the walking bridge,” Coleman said.
Other projects he has been involved with include the Highway DD bike trail, building the new public works complex, the construction of four new city buildings, the removal of two city buildings, a $22 million dollar upgrade to the water pollution control plants, the Business 13/Hawthorne Boulevard roundabout, the traffic signal upgrade, the improvements to the stormwater system and city streets and the extension of Hamilton Street, Russell Avenue, Ridgeview Drive and North Street.
Coleman has also worked with several developers on subdivisions, economic development projects and new industry in Warrensburg and been a part of revitalizing the downtown area for 20 years.
“What I like the most out of what I’ve done is being able to be responsive to citizens when they had a concern or requests for services,” Coleman said. “Whether it’s a big problem or a small problem, … (I like) being able to bring about improvements to whatever they were concerned about.”
Coleman said he has tried to instill in his staff an attitude to be true to their word.
“Many times we don’t have the funding to be able to do what (a community member is) asking for, but we can do the best we can to address whatever their issues are,” Coleman said.
Coleman’s last day will be Jan. 3, 2020.
In his retirement, Coleman said he plans to take back up several of his hobbies and travel.
“I always called, whenever I went home to work on the farm my second job,” Coleman said. “Because you never really get to dedicate your time and your day to doing something you enjoy.”
“I’ve dealt with about everything Mother Nature could throw at us and the community … I feel like I have done the best I could for the people in the community these past years,” Coleman said. “Many times I put the community before my family, trying to do what was right at the time and now is the time for me to try to take care of myself and my family and move on to a different set of goals.”
Coleman said he has faith that the Public Works Department will be able to move forward following his retirement.
“I feel like I’ve been part of building a good foundation for the department and I see it continuing to move forward with the growth of the community,” he said.
A retirement party for Coleman will be 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Municipal Center.