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Longtime Clinton Public Works staffer Todd Hajek now spends more time behind the desk than before as director of the department where he’s worked for almost 28 years. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The Clinton Department of Public Works (DPW) is the town agency responsible for making sure the town facilities are kept in the best possible shape. Since May 14, the man responsible for running that department is Todd Hajek.
While he’s new to the position, he’s not new to the job.
“In October it will be 28 years that I’ve worked in the department,” Todd says.
Todd says he had a background in municipal construction and applied for a job in the department on a whim.
“I started in the transfer station and I worked my way up,” Todd says. “I’ve been through it all.”
Over the course of nearly three decades, Todd worked his way up to being named assistant director of the DPW in 2017 before being named director earlier this year.
“The work became more administrative as opposed to being in the field day to day,” Todd explains.
As the director, Todd’s day now consists of mostly long-range planning, budgetary management, and behind-the-scenes work. Every day starts with a 6:30 a.m. crew meeting to discuss the day’s work. The role also requires him to use some new skills.
“It changes, because now you have to that guy. The buck ends at you,” Todd says. “I’ll tell you, as much as I thought I knew about this town, I still learned more when named director.”
As a department head, he’s taken on more of a visible role by answering questions from the public, resolving complaints, and attending meetings of the various boards and commissions in town. He credits recently retired DPW director Pete Neff with leaving the department in good shape.
“My job has been made much easier thanks to how Pete has it set up,” Todd says.
Todd says he was attracted to the DPW job 28 years ago due to his background in construction.
“I’ve always been involved in the municipal side of things and I was looking for something stable that I could grow in long-term,” he says.
The fact that Todd is a Killingworth native and the job was close by was also a perk, he adds.
To sum up what the department does on a daily basis, Todd says the DPW has a saying: “If you can’t call 9-1-1 for it, you’re calling Public Works for it.”
Basically, every public facility in Clinton is maintained by the department, which means the DPW is often communicating and working with other town agencies.
“We always see where we intertwine with the different departments and see where we can help out,” Todd says.
Helping out sometimes means taking on projects to improve areas that some longtime Clinton residents may remember as eyesores. For instance, Todd says that for a time the Town Green was jokingly referred to as “the town brown,” but the DPW was able to bring back the grass.
“I love the town,” he says. “I’ve gotten to be a part of the lot of the improvements to the facilities.”
One particular project Todd says he’s proud up is the improvements to the Town Beach that took place in conjunction with the Parks & Recreation Department about 10 years ago.
“We really turned it into something the town can be proud of and people like to go to it,” he says.
As for upcoming projects, Todd says he’s keen to get started on the bridge replacement projects set to begin next year on Kelsey Town Road, Carter Hill Road, and Pleasant Valley Road.
“The biggest thing is seeing the fruits of our labor. It feels good,” Todd says. “We’re always here and we will back to you as soon as we can. We may not have the answers, but we’ll try our best to help.”
Besides his work with the DPW, Todd is also a volunteer firefighter in Killingworth. Todd has been a member of that department for 38 years, and is now the fire commissioner.
“I went and signed up when I was 14,” Todd says. “I wasn’t a big sports player, so I joined.”
Todd says the department is strictly volunteer, and sometimes helps out with situations that arise in neighboring towns, including Clinton.
“When someone has a problem, I like to be able to solve it,” Todd adds.
As for hobbies, Todd says he spends a lot of time attending his kids Sierra and TJ’s sports games with his wife Lara. The family also likes to ride bicycles together. They’ll participate on Sept. 7 in the Closer to Free Ride, a fundraiser for the Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center. To participate in the ridem Todd and Lara have formed a fundraising team named Lara’s Army. The group is still seeking donations, which can be made by visiting www.rideclosertofree.org.
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