District Director Richard Baier and staff move villages in the right direction

Richard Baier officially became District Manager in July 2018 and to say he has accomplished tremendous accomplishments in a short period of time would be an understatement.

Richard Baier

Baier discussed some of the accomplishments he and his staff have made and their exciting future plans during a presentation Friday morning at the Laurel Manor Recreation Center. Accompanied by several of his department heads, Baier spoke to an audience dominated mainly by elected representatives from the villages who represent the community development districts, the committee of the approval authority and the district dependent on the county public services. by North Sumter.

Baier didn’t hesitate to share praise among those in the room, which, of course, is a sign of a good manager. He pointed out that these elected officials presented budgets totaling $ 336.37 million last year – a reduction of $ 4 million from the previous year – and that department heads had done their part to find many savings opportunities.

The high-tech digital billboards that were installed at the Rohan Recreation Center and the Everglades Recreation Center were touted as successes. In fact, they have proven to be so popular that recreation director John Rohan has said they will soon be installed in former regional recreation centers as well.

Baier also spoke about the customer service center that opened in July at the new Villages Public Safety Department station south of State Road 44. So far, this facility has provided valuable services to 1,000 residents and registered 5 500 calls.

A recently completed $ 1.9 million renovation added approximately 4,600 square feet to Villages Public Safety Station 40, located at 2455 Parr Drive, near The Villages High School and the Village of Belvedere.

Unsurprisingly, as The Villages expands in the southern end of the community, the Public Safety Department is not far behind. Last Wednesday, a ribbon cutting took place at the renovated Parr Drive fire hall which now houses a 95-foot tower truck to service nearby multi-story buildings. It was a moment that made Baier smile as he spoke of Fire Chief Edmund Cain’s accomplishments and his service.

“My biggest goal in providing district services is to make sure that we never, ever neglect the essential services that we provide through the village public safety service,” he said.

Baier also spoke with pride that the fire department maintains an average response time of around 4 minutes and 27 seconds – far less than many departments that require seven to eight minutes to arrive on emergency calls.

“Having said that, the health, well-being and safety of our residents is of paramount importance,” said Baier, “and also that we make this one of our priorities.”

This 95 foot flatbed truck is parked at the newly renovated Villages Department of Public Safety Station 40 on Parr Drive.

Community Watch Director Nehemiah Wolfe, well known for his many years in law enforcement, provided insight into what his organization does on a day-to-day basis to keep residents safe, from the historic side of the villages to the lower sections. more recent at the southern end of the villages. .

During Friday’s presentation, Baier also gave the crowd a glimpse into the future by talking about projects such as the First Responders Recreation Center in the community’s north, the Brownwood Woodshop, a system upgrade from sound at the Savannah Center, a tunnel lighting pilot project and an automated meter reading feasibility project, among many others (click HERE for the full presentation).

Those who know Baier and interact with him know that one of the many reasons for his success is his constant emphasis on communication and transparency. When it comes to government, it is a concept that too often is not followed. But in our district government, it is something that we – and the villagers – find extremely refreshing.

Not surprisingly, Baier also has many other success stories. He improved the district’s website – www.districtgov.org – and made it much more user-friendly. He made positive improvements to the Welcome Wednesday program and presented a clear plan to reorganize the management structure of his office. And he recognized the talents of staff members who may not have been fully utilized in the past, then went the extra mile to make sure every supervisor was aware of the changes they had implemented. – another excellent example of communication and transparency.

District manager Richard Baier addresses a small crowd ahead of the grand opening at Villages Fire Station 40 last week.

But without a doubt, one of Baier’s greatest accomplishments is that no resident’s question is too small to answer. More than once we’ve seen him answer inquiries and hand out countless business cards. And we know full well that his follow-ups are, to say the least, thorough and courteous.

We will also point out that Baier has been heavily involved in the advancement of the villages of Calumet Grove after devastating sinkholes opened up in the community more than two years ago. And the former Sumter County deputy administrator and director of public works has gone to great lengths to make sure the villagers are on top of the recycling and garbage collection changes that are coming.

As we said earlier, we applaud the many successes Baier and his team have enjoyed over the past 19 months. He clearly knows the community inside out and we, as the residents of Villages, really appreciate his open-mindedness and attention to detail. This is exactly what government officials are supposed to do and it’s great to see Baier leading by example.

With The Villages in high growth mode, open communication and transparency will become even more important, as villagers will have a plethora of questions to answer. We are confident that Baier and his company will do their best to meet these needs, and we are happy to see the District Office in its capable hands at such an important time in the history of Florida’s friendliest hometown.

Daniel E. Murphy