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James Keene promoted to Public Services Administrator
City Manager Jim Elensky announced the promotion of James Keene to the position of Public Services Administrator.
Keene has an extensive career working in municipal government. He was the Public Works Director of Frostproof and oversaw all aspects of the city infrastructure including water plant and distribution systems, wastewater plant operations and collection system, and maintenance and repair of all City facilities, streets, parks, stormwater, and cemetery. During his time in Frostproof, Keene would oversee projects such as septic to sewer, looping of water lines which ultimately connected all of the city-owned water plants, construction of additional methods of wastewater treatment that increased Frostproof’s treatment capacity, and a new water plant
He brought that expertise to his hometown of Haines City in June of 2019 when he was hired by the city as the Public Works Director, responsible for streets, stormwater, lake management and fleet services. In February 2020 Keene was promoted to Public Infrastructure Director to also oversee operations of the Water and Wastewater Facilities, Utility Maintenance, Collections and Distribution systems along with critical city infrastructure.
Keene’s new role will include responsibility for the Development Services Department, in addition to his current responsibilities. The Development Services Department is organized into four primary functions, the Department’s primary roles include Planning and Zoning, Land Development and Building Plan Review, Permitting and Licensing, Building Inspections, and the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Keene is also a Licensed Water Operator and member of the Florida Rural Water Association.
In 2021 Keene was appointed to the Florida League of City’s Utilities, Natural Resources & Public Works Committee/Legislative Policy Committee chairs, vice-chairs, and members were appointed by FLC’s incoming president, Lakeland Commissioner Phillip Walker. Keene has served on the committee since 2016.
As a Legislative Policy Committee member, Keene helped develop FLC’s Legislative Action Agenda, which details priority issues that are most likely to affect daily municipal governance and local decision-making during the legislative session. He’ll also help FLC staff understand the real-world implications of proposed legislation. Committee members are also asked to serve as advocates for local decision-making throughout the legislative process.
City Manager Jim Elensky said he is confident Keene’s experience will help the city meet future demands and opportunities as the city grows. “James will be a big part of helping us turn challenges into opportunities,” Elensky said.
Keene summed up his personal and management style with this quote from Abraham Lincoln. “I do not like that man, I must get to know him better.”
“More often than not, we tend to judge a book by the cover or listen to opinions of others when deciding whether or not we like someone. I never meet a stranger and always strive to find the good in others, Keene said.