January 30 – Happy Birthday Don Adamowski

adamowskicover2Here’s an excerpt from my story about this gifted public servant . The entire story appears in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order a copy, click here.

Don Adamowski had a tough job. He worked as an engineer for New York State’s Montgomery County and during his 35 years of service it was his job to improve the efficiency of county operations and solve thorny technical problems that needed to be solved. For example, when he served the DPW as a highway engineer he came up with a pretty ingenious three-tab ticket that could be used to more accurately track the inter-county transportation of material via County owned-trucks. When he served as real-property tax director, he came up with all kinds of training programs and tools designed to help the assessors within the county do their jobs in a better more timely fashion. As the commissioner of solid waste, Don was handed the problem of coming up with a long-term solution for disposing of the county’s garbage with a solid waste disposal infrastructure that was quickly becoming full, outdated and illegal.

Talk about your no-win situations, issues like property assessments and waste disposal are essential functions of modern government. Someone has to take charge of them but those that do put themselves in the incessant line of fire between taxpayers and politicians. Solutions to big problems are never easy and never free. Montgomery County was fortunate to have today’s birthday celebrant to be that “someone.” Why?

Don Adamowski was smart. Born in Amsterdam on January 30, 1938, he graduated from St. Mary’s Institute in 1946 and got his degree in civil engineering from RPI. Don could communicate. He did his homework he was well read and well spoken. If you asked him a question, he gave you a complete answer and if he didn’t have all the information he needed to do so there and then, he went and got it. Don took responsibility for his actions. When the tasks at hand are difficult and controversial, working for politicians usually means you work for yourself. Don was not afraid to function within this crucible…

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