Murrieta City Engineer/Public Works Director Pat Thomas' name will not be an easy one to forget at City Hall.
Thomas, who announced he is leaving his post to take a job as deputy city engineer/public works director for the city of Newport Beach, has been key to several infrastructure projects completed recently in Murrieta.
During Thomas' five-plus years working for the city of Murrieta, he oversaw projects such as the Clinton Keith/Interstate 215 interchange, California Oaks/Interstate 15 interchange, the Whitewood Road extension, the Linnel Lane over crossing, the Ivy Street bridge, a traffic management system at City Hall, and the addition of online bidding for public works projects.
Thomas' departure was publicly announced during a Nov. 20 Murrieta City Council meeting, during which he received a standing ovation.
"You are leaving a big hole here in the city of Murrieta," said Councilwoman Kelly Bennett, who praised Thomas' ability to "transition from engineer speak to regular person speak."
Other council members said likewise.
"I appreciate the fact that when I have had a question you have been there to pick up the phone," said Councilman Randon Lane.
Thomas is leaving the city in good shape, council members said, with plans already laid for projects such as the widening of the Los Alamos/Interstate 15 over crossing.
He is also credited with overseeing work on the installation of major pipelines to alleviate flooding on and near Jefferson Avenue south of Murrieta Hot Springs Road.
"You are an extraordinary engineer," Mayor Pro Tem Rick Gibbs said to Thomas, noting his projects were always "on schedule."
Councilman Alan Long lauded Thomas' "can-do" attitude, while City Manager Rick Dudley said Thomas will be a "hard act to follow."
It was not immediately clear why Thomas was making the move.
The position in Newport Beach has been open since at least September, according to an article on the Daily Pilot. The news site reported that two top-level administrators took jobs in San Diego, which resulted in some reorganization and left vacant the deputy city engineer/public works director position.
As Thomas accepted a city proclamation from McAllister, he said the citizens of Murrieta are in good hands.
"This is by far the best city organization I have worked for," Thomas said. "You are very well represented here in the city of Murrieta. You have a great city council and a great city staff."