City of Hobbs City Manager JJ Murphy was recently able to leave his desk for the day and join the Water Department for their daily tasks. All in part of Operation SWITCH, read below to see his newfound role for the day.
Spending time with the Boss
Hobbs employees enjoy being shadowed by city manager
Just to be clear Lorenzo Villarreal keeps his work truck clean all of the time.
His boss knows it, his boss’s boss knows it and now his boss’s, boss’s boss knows it.
That last person happens to be City of Hobbs Manager J.J. Murphy, who spent a few hours with Villarreal recently driving through the streets of Hobbs as he explained to Murphy what his job is.
Villarreal is a meter reader who works for the city’s water department. His job is exactly what it sounds like. He spends his days driving from residence to residence, checking the water meters which will eventually produce a water bill.
But back on this particular December day, Villarreal had a shadow.
Every few months Murphy likes to get out from behind his desk and see the work actually being done in Hobbs. He’ll spend a day observing the daily tasks of Hobbs employees, while asking questions about their job and about the employee. He calls it "Operation SWITCH."
"It means Stop Working In The City Hall," Murphy said of the acronym. "I have probably done about a dozen different departments. I believe it is important to let the employees know that I value their job that they do and I am willing to do it. To go out and learn more about some of their challenges in their everyday work. We’ve made critical budgetary decisions based one some of the things that I have learned."
For instance, more than a year ago Murphy spent some time at the city jail. He got to know the jailers, their day-to-day responsibilities and their lives outside the job. Murphy said he saw the security issues that pertain to the 50-year old facility and realized that a updated jail is needed.
"I went to Colorado and learned about building facilities," Murphy said. "That’s why I am a proponent for when we have the money about building a new city jail. We have already allocated some money for design for a new city jail."
Don’t expect a new water office or anything as drastic from Murphy’s visit. He sat with employees in the utilities office and learned about them. Then he wanted to do their job.
"He wanted to sit at the water department’s window and take the customer’s payments," said City of Hobbs Utilities Office Manager Kaylyn Lewis. "He watched what everyone did and talked to the employees. It was really slow in the office when he came by that morning. He did see a few of our customers though."
Then it was off with Villarreal in his clean truck. What was it like to have the city manager shadow you for a day?
"I was in the back seat so it didn’t bother me at all," laughed Carol Gober, the city’s Meters and Services Supervisor and Villarreal’s direct boss. Normally it’s Gober who rides with the meter readers and visit residences. On this day, she watched as Murphy observed and asked questions.
"He asked some questions, but we mainly just told him what we were doing," Villarreal said. "It’s common questions that we always get asked. When we were telling him about our meter reading programs, Census and Neptune."
Gober said Murphy was interested on how the meter reading programs worked. Each meter reader has a device that scans a computer sensor on the meter. It is then processed and a readout can be seen on a computer stationed in Villarreal’s clean truck.
On this particular day, the trio visited a Hobbs residence that had a recent history of high water bills. Employees have made multiple visits to the residence in an effort to find the problem.
"We had done everything on our part to find out why it was so high to try to help them," Gober said. "They had a swimming pool in their yard. When we use this program, it shows us their water usage for the last 90 days. It helps us out if people have a high water bill and they come to the office and complain about it. Of course they are complaining about a bill that is charging for the month before. There may not be a leak at the time of their complaint, but through this program we can see where there was a lot of water used."
Initially, no leak could be seen, so Gober said they first replaced the meter and sensor. When the readings came back the same it was a sure sign that there was a leak.
"Water usually finds a way to come back up," Gober said. "It turned out the leak was under the tile to the pool and that leak was running right into the sewer so it was hard to find. It took a while for the water to start bubbling up through the tile."
Now that the leak is fixed, Gober, Villarreal and Murphy were making one last visit to determine if the water usage was going down. That’s when the resident came out of her house to visit. She thanked the employees for the continued effort of finding the problem.
"One thing about that customer was that they were very nice and they wanted to try to help," said Gober. "Sometimes we have residents who come out of their homes yelling at us first thing. The majority of time the residents are pretty nice. They are trying to figure out what is going on and so are we."
Murphy was impressed with the amount of time Gober and her employees gave.
"I would never know our employees go that extra effort," he said. "It’s great to see firsthand. I get a lot of department heads who tell me what their employees are doing, but to see it first hand makes me a better manager."
Seeing it firsthand also improves morale between city employees and Murphy.
"He’s not the type of person to sit in his office and not understand what the employees in this town do," Villarreal said. "He understands how the actions that he makes in his office affects the employees who work under him."
"It was nice to see him come with us," Gober said. "We often see him in the employee parking area and we say ‘good morning,’ but he didn’t know what we were going off to do at work."
Tim Woomer, director of Utilities for the city, said the idea behind Operation SWITCH isn’t a smoke screen.
"It says volumes about a guy’s real commitment and if he really cares or just giving it lip service," Woomer said. "I can’t say there has been another city manager who did that and I have been here for four of them." Murphy would like to expand the operation to include department heads and maybe some employees. It was a topic of conversation at a recent city morale committee meeting where employees talk about ways to improve the quality of work life with the city of Hobbs.
Woomer likes the idea, but feels the logistics need to be worked out a bit.
"When you look at it, you don’t have extra people with the city, so when you are shadowing someone or being shadowed, that person isn’t doing what needs to be done (at their respective job) and that can be an issue," Woomer said.
Gober liked the idea of implementing SWITCH at the employee level, if only to spend a couple of hours at a certain department.
"I know the girls who work on the plants around town, they work and I wouldn’t mind planting flowers for half a day," she said. I like gardening, but I don’t want to do it all the time."
Villarreal wouldn’t mind another visit from someone from another department, just as long as they kept his truck clean.
"I kinda knew something was going on when Carol looked inside my truck the day before (Murphy’s visit) and she said she was just checking to see if my truck was clean," he said.
"I knew J.J. was coming but I didn’t tell Lorenzo because I know him," Gober said. "He would have been worrying about it and would have cleaned his truck again. It turned out to be a good day. We got to spend time with the city manager and he got to see what we do. That makes us feel good knowing that our work life means a lot to him."
Fine Forgiveness at Hobbs Public Library
Fine Forgiveness at Hobbs Public Library
Starting Tuesday, January 3rd until Saturday, January 14th, the Hobbs Public Library (HPL) will be accepting canned goods from library patrons in exchange for fine forgiveness. At the end of the program, all of the canned goods will be donated to Manna Outreach. This is a program similar to other public libraries’ fines forgiveness programs, each with their own rules. HPL is offering this fine forgiveness program as an opportunity for patrons to clear their record as well as an opportunity to provide to others.
Any donated canned good must not be dented, swollen, rusty, or be expired. Canned dog food will not be accepted for this program. One can will waive $10 of a patron’s fines. No damaged or lost materials may be paid with donated food cans. This "fines forgiveness" program will apply to Hobbs Public Library fines only.
HPL Director Sandy Farrell stated, "This is a program that is not only beneficial to the Hobbs Public Library but will also make a positive impact on the less fortunate in our community. We are happy to offer it."
Days of Operation Added to City of Hobbs Transfer Station Schedule
Starting January 1st, 2017, the South Hobbs Transfer Station, located at 3000 East Marland, will be open on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On these days, the hours of the transfer station will be from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. When Monday is a holiday, the transfer station will be open the following Tuesday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Residents must adhere to the following restrictions:
South Hobbs Transfer Station Restrictions
- No commercial or industrial dumping will be allowed, i.e. landscaping or construction materials.
- No fresh/wet paint will be accepted (paint will only be accepted if it is completely dry in its container).
- No batteries of any size will be accepted.
- No tires will be accepted.
- Tree limbs must be trimmed to 4 ft. bundles, weighing no more than 50 lbs. (we do not have a chipper on site like the North Hobbs Facility).
- Metal will be accepted (any appliance with refrigerant must be serviced accordingly prior to being disposed of or it will not be accepted).
The recycling center at this location will continue to operate during regularly scheduled hours.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact the City of Hobbs Utilities Department at (575) 397-9315.
2017 Business Registration Renewal
It’s time to renew your City Business Registration. All of the 2017 annual City business registration renewals have been mailed and are due by January 31st. The renewal fee is $25.00.
The Hobbs City Code requires all businesses located within the city limits to obtain a business registration each calendar year. Renewals may be obtained in the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 200 East Broadway, Hobbs, New Mexico. If your business is no longer in operation, please contact the Clerk's Office to have your business registration cancelled. Address corrections, name changes or cancellations may be handled over the telephone by calling the Clerk’s Office at 397-9200. Credit card payments can also be handled over the telephone by using Visa, Master Card or Discover.
If there are no changes to the current registration, save time and renew online at www.hobbsnm.org
The Center Of Recreational Excellence
Click here to see the marketing video for The CORE, coming to you Spring 2018!
Veterans Now Ride FREE on Hobbs Express
Beginning on November 8th, 2016, Veterans can now ride free on all Hobbs Express bus routes as well as the demand response-paratransit bus service. Upon boarding any of the fare-based routes, Veterans must present a Veterans ID photo badge or valid New Mexico driver's license with a Veteran's designation, and their fare will be waived.
"Veterans have made a great sacrifice to all of us and we want to thank them for their service to our country and to the people of the United States," stated Jan Fletcher, Hobbs Express Public Transportation Director. "We are proud to offer this benefit."
Hobbs Express joins other agencies such as the NCRTD, Rio Metro RTD, operator of the NM Rail Runner Express, and the City of Santa Fe's Santa Fe Trails bus transit system in offering this show of gratitude to our nation's Vets.
Hobbs Express provides fixed-route bus service on three routes that run daily each hour throughout the community at designated bus stops. Riders can transfer to another route at various bus stop locations. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Through the demand response program, riders may schedule a pickup from any specific location within city limits and receive curb-to-curb transportation service - We would just like to remind veterans and riders that there is a 24-hour notice requirement for this service!
Hobbs City Manager J.J. Murphy stated, "I am moved by Hobbs Express Staff's initiative to provide this complimentary service to the ones in our community who have sacrificed so much. As a veteran myself, I recognize the impact this offer will have on our residents and was quick to approve the program when the (Hobbs Express) Staff presented it. I hope the veterans of our community recognize this as a symbol of our gratitude for their service."
For more information or to schedule a pickup, call Hobbs Express at (575)397-9290.
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Rockwind Community Links
Dan the movie man is in Hobbs New Mexico hitting the links with Barry Peters, Matt Hughes and Linda Howell at the Rockwind Community Links.
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Consumer Confidence Report 2015
We are pleased to present this year's Annual Water Quality Report (Consumer Confidence Report) as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). This report is designed to provide details about where your water comes from, what it contains, and how it compares to standards set by regulatory agencies. This report is a snapshot of last year's water quality. We are committed to providing you with information because informed customers are our best allies.Consumer Confidence Report (.pdf) »
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