GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Public Works department has just become the first and only city department in Mississippi accredited by the American Public Works Association.
"It's exciting. It's something we've been wanting to do for years," said Wayne Miller, director of Gulfport Public Works.
A lot of the time, it can be argued that public works departments don't get the recognition they deserve. City employees are responsible for a lot and in Gulfport, being a public works employee now might hold a little more clout.
"It's professionalism. Gives you prestige. It gives the community, your elected officials and your employees assurance that what you're doing is an approved policy through the American Public Works Association," said Miller.
And that's not an easy task, according to Miller. The process was extensive, including hundreds of pages of documentation. The effort to get the accreditation started more than a decade ago, but fell to the wayside after several setbacks like storms and the economy.
Even though Miller can be credited with restarting the effort about a year and a half ago, he says it took a team mentality to get the work done.
"It was one team, so he's right. We all pitched in and got it done. We all work everyday excellent as a team. We communicate with each other," said garage manager Richard Thorsten.
Now, the team is filled with a sense of pride.
"It's big. The morale right now in our department is really high," said Miller.
Pride in the work is a welcome feeling for the generally unsung department that is public works. Hinds County's public works department is the only other one in the state to gain the accreditation. Gulfport the only city in Mississippi with the status.