KEARNEY — Donnie Smith, who has worked for the city of Kearney for seven years, is now the city’s interim utilities and streets director. Smith was appointed to the position this fall after current Utilities Director Jay Bettis announced his retirement.

“Donnie does a good job and has worked with me up at the city for several years now. He’ll continue to do a good job for the city,” said Bettis on Smith’s promotion.

While he began his employment with the city years ago as a laborer at the water plant, before being named interim director, Smith was the assistant city utilities and streets director. Smith’s current workload and new role have him overseeing more than a dozen public works employees as well as operations of the street department and water and sewer plants.

Before working for the city, Smith garnered decades of experience in the plumbing trade with jobs in the Shawnee Mission school district in Kansas and with a Northland plumbing company.

As for goals of his new role, Smith said he wants to continue to be a good steward of the city’s money, making sure infrastructure is upgraded, specifically for streets and waterlines, where needed.

“I know Porter Ridge needs to be repaved. It’s one of the worst (roads) we have. We also have a to of stormwater pipes we are trying to upgrade. That’s a slow process though because it’s so expensive,” he said. “On the water mains, it’s in downtown because it’s the oldest infrastructure Then, also we need work south of (Missouri Highway) 92. That’s the next logical place to upgrade because those were all new in 1962, 63, 64 and 65. They are well over their longevity.”

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at or 903-6001.

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