Bill Lawyer found out late last week that he is the new public works director for the City of Keizer. He’s been the department’s superintendent since 1998. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

It shouldn’t take too long for new Public Works Director Bill Lawyer to acclimate to his new role.

The lifelong area resident joined the city’s public works department in 1989 and was most recently the interim director after Rob Kissler’s retirement. Since 1998 he’s been the public works superintendent.
The two positions might sound similar, but Lawyer said the director is responsible for taking a big-picture approach with long-term planning, while the superintendent supervises day-to-day operations. The city will be looking soon for a superintendent.

“The number one priority is to continue to foster the trust and responsibility we have earned during my career with the city,” Lawyer said. “The public works department does have a high level of trust and I want to make sure that continues.”

Lawyer, 50, grew up in northeast Salem, attending Whiteaker Middle School and McNary High School before becoming part of McKay High’s first graduating class. He worked in the heating and air conditioning field before taking a leap and managing a sheep ranch in Dundee.

“It was something brand new that I’d never done,” Lawyer said. “I wasn’t a farm kid, so I learned a lot about … that part of life, and how to be isolated. We didn’t know anybody. It really helped develop my relationship with my wife.”

He joined the city in 1989 as a water works operator, leaving his post in facility maintenance at Willamette