When he joined the Hamilton Township Department of Public Works in 2005, Brett Noll expected it would just be a temporary gig. Eight years later, he is running the department.
On Aug. 6, Noll took over the position as Director of Public Works, overseeing the township's second-largest department.
While he has had a quick rise up the ranks, Noll isn't taking a second to rest on his laurels.
"I want to concentrate on moving forward," said Noll, 32, who lives in Weymouth Township. "That'll be my agenda."
Noll was working as a geotechnical well driller in North Jersey in 2005 when his father became ill, so he moved back home to Mays Landing to take care of his father. After his father died, Noll remained in Mays Landing, joining the Department of Public Works as a laborer.
Noll had taken four years of technical drawing classes in high school, which, coupled with his previous field experience, suited him for Public Works. He quickly earned the trust of his supervisors, and in November 2007 won the township a New Jersey Clean Water award for an audit of illicit water connections he conducted.
In 2008, Noll was named chief of the Division of Roads, Drainage and Construction, where he proved himself an asset to the township after higher-than-normal precipitation in 2009 caused many of the township's retention basins to fail.
The Public Works Department and the Municipal Utilities Authority had been under the same director but were split earlier this year, creating the opening. Noll was chosen from an applicant pool of about 50.
Township Administrator Mike Jacobs, with whom Noll works closely, said while Noll's technical knowledge was a big part of the reason he was picked for the job, it is his ability to think on his feet and solve problems that the selection committee most coveted.
"He looks at a job and solves a problem, a lot of stuff few run into," Jacobs said. "There isn't a handbook."
As a division chief, Noll made it a point to increase specialization and complete jobs in-house to help streamline the township's budget. Among new department hires in recent years have been an electrician and stonemason, who have allowed the city to avoid dealing with expensive private contractors for smaller jobs, like wiring of a park security system or the mounting of a plaque in cement.
Noll, who moved to Mays Landing in 1985 when he was 3, grew up on Lake Lenape, and its management occupies much of his time. One of his pet projects in Public Works is the Lake Lenape Dam, and he carefully monitors water levels and rainfall. As the largest dam in Atlantic County, it requires constant oversight, a task Noll is glad to take on himself.
"Most people that know me, know me for this," Noll said. "This is like, my thing."
Noll has pursued his education on and off since graduating from high school in 1999, earning his associate's degree from Atlantic Cape Community College in 2003. It has always been a dream to earn his bachelor's, he said, and he's enrolled at Thomas Edison University in pursuit of a degree in construction technology and applied science.
At age 32, Noll is relatively young to be in his position, but he has proven himself worthy of the responsiblity, and it is Jacobs' hope that he keeps at it for years to come.
"I'm looking for some things from him, a long career," Jacobs said. "He's a local guy, and I look for him, hopefully, to stay here."
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