Oversaw long list of improvements
Twisp Public Works Director Andrew Denham, who has overseen more than $20 million worth of infrastructure improvements in the town since he was hired in 2014, has resigned effective mid-October.
Denham said in a recent interview that the choice to leave the position was strictly personal and not professional: His 32-year-son, who lives in the Spokane area, has been diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain cancer. Although he anticipated working another five years for Twisp, Denham said he chose to end a 30-year career in public works now so he can spend as much time as possible with his son.
In a July 6 letter to Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody, Denham said “I had anticipated extending my career here with the Town of Twisp to finish the work that we have worked so hard to lay out.”
“This is where I wanted to be, and where I want to be,” Denham said in the recent interview. But his son’s condition, Denham said, “made the decision clear … there was no other choice.”
Denham said he will take an engineering job and has made living arrangements in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — which is close to Spokane — for several days a week while maintaining his home in Conconully. His wife works in health care.
Denham said his son is “very positive” and is pursuing a graduate degree. The cancer is “not holding him back,” Denham said.
While the prognosis is not promising, Denham said he and his family “will hope and pray for his recovery.” Denham said his faith is an “extraordinary” part of his life. “No matter what, we’re going to serve our faith and serve God,” he said.
Denham said he would assist in the recruitment and training of his successor.
Denham came to the Twisp job from Mount Vernon, where he had supervised that city’s wastewater treatment system. In Twisp, he has been responsible not only for wastewater management but also for the municipal water system, streets, storm drainage, parks, the Wagner Memorial Pool, and vehicle and building maintenance.
Denham said that while many public works improvements have been completed in Twisp, “there’s a lot of work to be done. … I would like to see it to completion.”
While that won’t be entirely possible, major projects he has been instrumental in launching will reflect his involvement, such as design of a major wastewater treatment system overhaul, and his role in “value engineering” the cost of Twisp’s new Town Hall to reduce expenses. Major improvements under Denham’s watch have included upgrades to the water system, new fire hydrants and water meters, paving of worn streets, solar-powered streetlighting in the downtown area, construction of a new public works shop, and renovation of the Wagner Pool in 2016 to keep the aging facility operative for a few more years.
Denham — a self-proclaimed wastewater treatment wonk — is perhaps most proud that the town has been honored by the state Department of Ecology five times for its wastewater treatment plant’s operating compliance.
Denham is known for his can-do attitude — “we’ll figure out a way to do it” is his motto — and for his role in securing millions of dollars worth of state and federal grants for the town’s projects. “It makes all the difference” in the town’s ability to get things done, he said. “You need to go out and get those grants.” Nearly 80% of the work done in recent years was supported by grants, Denham said.
“We have been fortunate to have had Andrew with us as he has been a critical part of our town’s team,” Ing-Moody said in an email. “His many contributions to our Public Works department are notable and his presence will definitely be missed. I have appreciated the fact that our Public Works Director has been dedicated to the vision our Administrative Team and Council collectively shares. It takes a team and Andrew has been key in leading the Public works crew with his positive attitude, energy, and strong work ethic.”
Denham said he has appreciated the opportunity to work for Twisp. “I truly wanted to serve this community,” he said.