Gary Hallaert says his is the type of job you don't appreciate -- until there's a problem.
He's the utilities supervisor for the village of Algonquin. Most of the work he and his crews do is behind the scenes. "You put all the work in and what we do, people don't see unless there's a problem," he said. "People don't think about the day-to-day, they turn on the faucet and the water is there, unless there's a problem."
But Hallaert's work has been visible to by a statewide group. Hallaert was named Operator of the Year in the distribution category by the Illinois Potable Water Supply Operators Association.
Hallaert, 35, of McHenry, has worked for the village 17 years and was originally hired as a maintenance worker in the parks department.
As utilities supervisor, he takes care of the village water from the time it leaves the water treatment plants until it comes out of your faucet. That includes maintaining the fire hydrants and pump stations as well as fixing water main breaks, leaks and valves.
Hallaert was nominated by his peers and the award recognized for the leadership he's shown in the operation and maintenance of the village's water distribution system. He was also noted for implementing an electronic mapping system for distribution operations and the emphasis he's put on professional development for utilities division employees.
"Gary's contributions throughout his career with the village exemplify the professionalism expected and demonstrated within our organization" Village President John Schmitt said in a statement. "Through hard work and a commitment to professional development, we're able to continuously improve our operations."
Hallaert received the honor last month during the water group's Springfield conference. The village board formally recognized him last week.