City of Oak Ridge Public Works Director Shira McWaters dies after short illness

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (June 19, 2021) – The City of Oak Ridge is mourning the loss of Public Works Director Shira McWaters.

“Today we have lost a colleague and a friend,” said City Manager Mark Watson. “Our hearts are with Shira’s husband, children and family as we share some small measure of their grief at the loss of this vibrant woman.”

McWaters came to the City of Oak Ridge in March of 2016, taking the helm of the Department which is responsible for much of the City’s essential infrastructure, from streets to drainage to water and wastewater.

She was a high-energy, involved leader who focused on maintaining the long-term viability of facilities in her charge while protecting and improving the City’s environment. Some of her many accomplishments included establishing a planned program for facility capital investment and leading the charge to make upgrades at the wastewater plant which both reduced costs and improved performance. She also recognized the need to replace the City’s aging water filtration plant and developed strategies to do so with the least financial impact to the water rate payers.

“Shira will long be remembered for her unique pairing of incredible intelligence, keen insight and problem-solving skills with unending compassion,” Watson said. “Among just a handful of female Public Works directors in the state of Tennessee, she was a pioneer and a one-of-a-kind person who we were honored to have known.”

McWaters died on Saturday, June 19, 2021, after a short illness. She was 60 years old.

Patrick Berge, Public Works Utility Manager, has been appointed Interim Public Works Director while the City evaluates this important leadership position.