BOLINGBROOK – At a recent Bolingbrook Village Board meeting, Mayor Roger Claar honored longtime friend and associate Mike Drey.
For 28 years, Drey, 65, has overseen Bolingbrook's Public Works department, managing its 83 employees who deal with engineering, streets, building and fleet maintenance, forestry, and electrical and wastewater utilities.
Village officials and board members also said their goodbyes to Drey, who will soon retire, during the April 16 meeting.
"I wish you all continued success and I know Bolingbrook will continue to prosper," Drey said to his peers at the board meeting. "I was fortunate enough to work with some of the most talented and dedicated intellectuals, and I wish you all the best."
An Oak Lawn native, Drey earned engineering degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Chicago Technical College.
Drey and his wife Peggy settled in Bolingbrook 42 years ago; he was working as a consultant engineer when he met former Village Manager Bill Palmer. A few years later, Palmer recruited Drey to fill the village's vacated Public Works Director position.
Drey said that he was happy to work closer to home, but also explained that, after the initial housing boom, Bolingbrook was a suburb that was still rapidly expanding.
"Bolingbrook went from a suburb that people moved to as a result of the housing boom to one of the most respected communities in Illinois," Drey said. "... We have the amenities, the parks, schools, the libraries, and shopping and business that we do. We are just now closing in on 50 years old."
After the housing growth came an industrial expansion in the 1990s, Drey explained. But, neither is sustainable without fresh water, treatment plants, retention ponds and sewage treatment.
Under Drey's guidance, water treatment plants were added throughout Bolingbrook.
"I always enjoy waking up the day after a natural disaster or storm," Drey said, adding that when the sewers are not clogged, the streets are not flooded and the residents are pleased.
"I am fortunate to have a very professional and competent staff," Drey said. "This would not have been possible without them, it was an enormous team effort. The growth and quality of growth in Bolingbrook really makes me smile."
Drey says he is looking forward to retirement and plans to spend time with his nine grandchildren and increase his volunteer efforts.