Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

John Norwell, Dane County Highway & Transportation Commissioner, to Retire in December

December 12, 2003
Sharyn Wisniewski, 267-8823
County Executive

County Executive Kathleen Falk announced today that John Norwell will retire as Commissioner of the Dane County Highway and Transportation Department. His last day will be December 26. Norwell, an engineer and land surveyor, joined the county highway department in 1979 as assistant commissioner, and has served as commissioner since 1988. He served under all four Dane County executives, including George Reinke, Jonathan Barry, Rick Phelps and Kathleen Falk. The department, with 155 employees and a $16.6 million budget, designs, coordinates, and maintains the county’s transportation systems, including county highways, rail and bike paths. The department also has oversight of the Rail Transit Commission and for the county parking ramp, and maintains the State and Interstate Highways in Dane County per contract with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. As commissioner, Norwell also served as chair of the Transportation Technical Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, and on various state committees. “John showed equal amounts of competence, integrity and good cheer in leading the department through a time of unprecedented growth and use of our transportation system,” said Falk. “He worked effectively with our federal, state, and local government partners in developing and maintaining a modern transportation system.” The Highway and Transportation Department maintains 540 miles of county highway and 420 miles of state highway in Dane County. “I’ve enjoyed serving the residents of Dane County these past years,” said Norwell. “It has been gratifying to work with a great staff, and with surrounding communities on joint road projects and the initiation of a new garage facility in Springfield Corners.” Norwell, who is taking advantage of the early retirement option offered to employees by Dane County, said he and his wife, Mary, will be moving from Madison to the Village of Oregon. John has two sons, CJ, a junior at UW-Milwaukee, and William, a senior at Memorial High School, and Mary has a daughter Rebecca who is married to Bryant Welch and she is presently enrolled in the graduate MBA program at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. Falk announced that Jerry Mandli, the county’s solid waste manager, will serve as interim director of the newly consolidated Department of Public Works, Highway and Transportation. “Jerry is especially gifted in working with a wide range of people through difficult issues,” said Falk. “As solid waste manager, he developed a top-notch operation, and devised the method to generate electricity with methane which is a growing source of revenue to the county.” Falk also announced that Billy Feitlinger is leaving as an executive assistant in her office to accept an LTE management position in Dane County Human Services. There he will assist Director Lynn Green in developing initiatives to better serve younger children throughout the county. “With his passion to help children and his great experience in a remarkable diversity of public and private human service, public health, and community programs, Billy is uniquely qualified to be of key assistance to our Human Services team,” said Falk. Ken Haynes, currently community program coordinator in the county’s Office of Equal Opportunity, will become an executive assistant to Falk. “Ken brings rich life experiences to this job—he’s been both an urban police officer and a farmer. He’s a brilliant writer, with a wonderful ability to work with people to solve tough problems,” said Falk. These changes take effect December 29. # # #