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Public Works head looks ahead

BY BRENDAN MAGEE | FEBRUARY 02, 2015 5:00 AM

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After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in civil engineering, Ron Knoche began his career as an assistant engineer for Cedar County.

He is now at the helm of Iowa City’s Public Works Department after spending 16 years working for the city.

Knoche takes over Public Works with the expectation to fill some large shoes after the retirement of Rick Fosse.

He spent 16 years as an engineer for Iowa City, and the city decided hiring from within was the best option.

“We were successful in finding Ron Knoche,” City Manager Tom Markus said.

After the retirement of Fosse, city officials look forward to working with Knoche.

“Ron has a lot of knowledge and has worked closely with Rick,” said Susan Mims, the mayor pro tem of the Iowa City City Council. “He will bring great continuity and great expertise to the Public Works Department.”

After working for Cedar County, he has been working for Iowa City as a civil engineer in 1999.

His experience as assistant county engineer has given him the background to dealing with personnel and employees, he said.

“My progression through the city-engineering positions gave me a pretty good understanding of the city of Iowa City: the operations of city, both on the development side and on the public-works-infrastructure side,” he said.

Knoche said his experience led him to the position he’s in now.

“It’s also given me the opportunity for the division that I’m managing now,” he said.

He said filling the job after Fosse is going to be tough work because of Fosse’s popularity with the public.

“Rick Fosse had a good rapport with the public and the media, and we’ll obviously will try to maintain that as we move forward,” Knoche said. “Rick’s mantra was ‘a public that has knowledge of what’s coming up at them is also a public that is tolerant.’ ”

During his time as Public Works director, Knoche hopes to continue to maintain the infrastructure of Iowa City as it continues to expand and grow “whether that be the increase density downtown or the growth on the boundaries as more properties are annexed into the city,” he said.

Knoche is overlooking several large projects roughly totaling $60 million on the department’s end, including the Iowa City Gateway Project, which will raise Dubuque Street and Park Road bridge.

“There are some projects yet to be built,” he said. “The major accomplishment working as civil engineer was the recovery from the 2008 flood and working through the flood-recovery projects that still aren’t complete yet, but we are getting closer.”

He said dealing with a lot of natural disasters in the past has prepared him for the future.

“My predecessor unfortunately had a lot of natural disasters that affected Iowa City,” he said.

“Hopefully, for now, the natural disasters are over, and if we do encounter one, we’ll be prepared for it.”


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