Ocean City Today

Maryland Municipal League names Adkins employee of year

Public Works official shares success with his large staff, finds passion in his work
By Katie Tabeling | Jun 29, 2017
Courtesy of: Jessica Waters

(June 30, 2017) Ocean City Public Works Director Hal Adkins received the Roland B. Sweitzer Employee of the Year Award during the Maryland Municipal League’s opening ceremony on Monday at the convention center on 40th Street.

Adkins, who chosen out of several nominees across the state, was surprised when he received the award.

“I had no idea that anyone had even nominated me,” he said after the event. “The appropriate word I have for this experience is ‘humbled.’ I’ve been with the town for 33 years and wanted to provide a good experience for those that live here and vacation here. I want to meet the expectations of all that come to Ocean City.”

Adkins began working for Ocean City in 1984, just days after graduating summa cum laude at University of Maryland, Eastern Shore Campus. His first job was plans examiner, which allowed him to review all building blueprints for code compliance. The position was created because of the building boom in Ocean City at the time.

Adkins stayed in that position for two years, before he decided to study law at the University of Baltimore. He lasted two weeks.

“I realized I went to a position where I was creating the rules to a setting of academia, where I was told what to do as a student,” he said. “I came back to Ocean City by the end of the month, explained what happened to then-City Manager Tony Barrett, and he told me to report to work the next day.”

Adkins was placed in the Engineering Department, working for a year alongside then City Engineer Dennis Dare, who went on to become city manager and now a councilman.

Then he landed in the Public Works Department, where he became director in 1989.

Back then, Adkins said public works was construction and maintenance departments combined. Today, he oversees nine departments, including the airport, transportation, solid waste, water, wastewater and fleet services. The annual operating budget for public works is roughly $52 million in fiscal year 2018.

Overall, the public works has 180 full-time employees. That number grows to 500 employees in the summer with seasonal staff. A point of pride with Adkins is that his staff is still the same level as it was in 1987.

“We’ve tried to work more efficiently through technology,” he said. “We have a built a heck of a staff here. There are many men and women here that have the same work ethic as I do, and I’m so proud of them.”

Adkins is also an accredited city manager with the International City/County Management Association, which comes with a lifelong learning commitment. Outside his professional successes, he has been married to his wife Alison, whom he met on the Boardwalk, for 32 years. He  has three sons, Tyler, Tanner, Bryton, and a daughter, Hannah.

Although Adkins is soon eligible for retirement, he shows no signs of slowing down.

“I’m not the kind of guy to just go fishing all day. My wife jokes that I’ll die from natural causes while working at my desk, wherever that may be,” he said. “But if you look at Ocean City, there’s much work to be done, with the new tram facility at Second Street, the multi-million-dollar Public Works Facility, and many more projects. It’s non-stop.”

When he received the award on Monday, Adkins credited his success to his staff.

“There’s a saying: when you find a job you love, you don’t work a day in your life. It’s true for me. But there’s lots of people who’ve joined me for the ride and share the same work ethic as I do,” he said.

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