Adams began working for ITT in 1977 and became Palm Coast's utility director in 2003.
by: Kimberly Norman
Public Relations Associate, city of Palm Coast
In 1977, Palm Coast was a rural landscape of woods, some houses and a small population. Jimmy Carter was President. Fleetwood Mac’s popular album Rumours was released. The first Star Wars movie hit theaters. Cell phones were unknown. And prime-time television was an everyday household event. It was a different time.
"His steady, measured and responsible voice was always so reassuring and will be missed, but his legacy and the foundation he has built here will be forever remembered and appreciated."
— MILISSA HOLLAND, Palm Coast mayor
Now, Palm Coast is home to nearly 90,000 residents. Schools, businesses and cultural arts groups are empowering our community. And throughout the changes, there has been one constant for nearly 43 years – Utilities Director Richard Adams.
Adams, the second longest-serving city employee in Palm Coast's history, retired Friday, May 1.
“Richard is a man of extremely high character and ethical standards,” said Steve Flanagan, deputy director of utility. “He is a man who will roll up his sleeves and do almost anything to make an organization better and has done so for his entire career.”
Adams began working for International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) Corporation, Palm Coast’s original developer, in 1977 as an engineering technician, sizing future water and wastewater pipelines and pumping systems. This became the basis of the city’s 30-year utility master plan.
In 1982, he transferred to ITT subsidiary Palm Coast Utility Corporation while pursuing a bachelor’s in business administration. In 1999, Florida Water Services Corporation bought Palm Coast Utility, and Adams became the system manager. Finally, in 2003, Palm Coast bought the utility, and Dick Kelton, the city manager at that time, hired Adams as utility director.
“It’s been an exciting and rewarding career and I have been very fortunate to have wonderful people to work with and without them, I could not have succeeded,” Adams said. “Some of these people I have worked with almost my entire career, some only a short while, but nonetheless, people who I feel are the best in the business and have made me look good.”
“Richard Adams holds a wealth of knowledge on all things utility,” said Mayor Milissa Holland. “His forward thinking as a director incorporated the latest technology to ensure the system was stable and could provide the cleanest drinking water possible. His steady, measured and responsible voice was always so reassuring and will be missed, but his legacy and the foundation he has built here will be forever remembered and appreciated.”
Adams managed more than 100 employees who monitor more than 500 miles each of water and wastewater pipelines, three water treatment plants and two wastewater treatment facilities.
“Richard has been the foundation in which utilities was built on,” said Terry Jarvis, utility office manager. “He is well-respected, honest and extremely knowledgeable.”
“Richard’s steady leadership has guided us through difficult times of drought, recession, many different types of changes and brought an unprecedented era of cooperation between all positions in the department,” said Pete Roussell, utility systems manager.
Under Adams' guidance, the department's national-champion "Water Buoys" team has won more than a dozen knowledge-based Top Ops State Championships. Several utility divisions have received awards for design, safety and best tasting drinking water.
He shares his knowledge several times a year during Citizen’s Academy classes. Last November, he became the first director in the city’s history to sit in for the city manager in their absence.
“Richard sets the highest standard for honesty, dedication and loyalty,” said Brian Matthews, environmental compliance manager. “He lives both his personal and professional life to this standard and expects the same of the people around him.”
City directors purchased a glass recognition award to honor his retirement.
With a newfound amount of free time on the horizon, Adams and his wife Lindy are looking forward to traveling, spending time outdoors and seeing their grandchildren.
“Under Richard’s direction, the utility has always overachieved, and for this he deserves to be recognized,” said Danny Ashburn, utility systems manager. “He can retire knowing he played a big part in where we as managers are today and how much he was appreciated.”