John Hardwick has announced that he will retire from Valparaiso City Utilities, effective Sept. 10, 2012. With this announcement, Hardwick ends more than 15 years of service with the Utilities beginning in 1997. “John Hardwick has made invaluable contributions to our city as leader of Utilities. We are grateful for his service and wish him the very best in retirement,” said Mayor Jon Costas.
VCU began making plans for succession to key positions in 2011. At that time, Hardwick announced that he would step down during the summer of 2013. “At this time, the succession plan has demonstrated to be so successful that I feel I can move on now with confidence in a smooth transition,” Hardwick stated. “It is a good time to step away as several programs and projects will be getting under way soon and my successor should be able to carry on without a hitch.”
Hardwick ends 37 years of service to the city of Valparaiso. He began in 1969 as a part-time staffer in the City Engineer’s office while attending Valparaiso University College of Engineering. His job at the time was to inspect construction of Glendale Boulevard and Washington Street.
After earning his engineering degree, Hardwick was named City Engineer by Mayor Elden Kuehl in 1972, serving until 1990. Hardwick rejoined the city in 1997 when Mayor David Butterfield appointed him as General Manager of the Valparaiso Department of Water Works. Under the leadership of Mayor Jon Costas, the city’s Department of Water Works and Water Reclamation were united into one citywide utility, and Hardwick was named Director of the combined utility, which ultimately included the city’s Stormwater Department.
“I have enjoyed serving Valparaiso these many years. It is truly a unique and wonderful city. I have served three great mayors and, as Utilities Director, served a supportive Board of Directors. Board Presidents Jack Barkley and Brad Dolezal were particularly supportive during my tenure as Utilities Director. Of course, a professional, effective staff is particularly important in any successful organization and our utility staff is as good as any utility workforce in the state. Steve Poulos, Assistant Utilities Director, has been a great partner since the utilities were merged,” said Hardwick. “It’s been a great run. I’ll stay busy with things that interest me. My wife, Katy, will see to that!” he added.
Hardwick will contribute to the city as a consultant through May, 2012, ensuring a seamless transition. Steve Poulos will become Utilities Director, as part of the established progression plan. Poulos has served as Assistant Utilities Director since 2011. He joined Valparaiso City Utilities in 1994 and was named Assistant Utilities Director for the Water Reclamation Department in 2009. He has led a number of key projects, including major improvements to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, development of a five-year strategic plan, introduction of a program to reduce neighborhood basement flooding, and development of a many efficiencies and cost savings systems.