Gallatin has a new public works director.
In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the Gallatin City Council appointed Richard DePriest as the city’s new superintendent of public works and set his starting salary at $89,134.
“I’m grateful and looking forward to the opportunity to continue to lead the department in the right direction and take care of the citizens of Gallatin,” DePriest told the Gallatin News about the decision.
Since 2019, DePriest has served as the assistant director of Gallatin Public Works. Prior to that, he spent four years with Hodges Group where he worked as a project manager before his departure from the Portland-based construction company.
DePriest holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice administration from Middle Tennessee State University and also previously worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a border patrol agent in Texas from 2007 until 2013.
In his new position, DePriest said he hopes to be able to fill several vacant positions within the department while also making sure younger employees get the training they need in order “to be able to give us the finished product that citizens and everybody are looking for.”
Gallatin Public Works currently has around 53 employees who help maintain the city’s vehicles, facilities, streets and stormwater infrastructure along with providing environmental services like trash and brush collection.
“With the growth of the city just in the two years that I’ve been here, the workload has increased,” DePriest said. “We’ve been able to manage for the most part fairly well with the staffing that we have. I do think that in the future as Gallatin continues to grow… that we will have to grow too just to keep up with the times. At this point, we’re working hard to keep up with what we’ve got and continue to take in what is coming.”
The city began searching for a new public works director in January shortly after former director Zach Wilkinson submitted his letter of resignation.
A total of 18 candidates applied for the position, according to Connie Flood, human resources director for the city. Of those, four finalists were interviewed on March 16.
“We are so grateful for that Zach Wilkinson has done and… Mr. DePriest, we’re really looking to having you take leadership of that department,” Mayor Paige Brown said Tuesday. “I know that you are driven and determined and excited about the opportunity and I know that you’re going to do so well.”