The Yass Valley Council has welcomed James Dugdell as the new Director of Infrastructure and Assets.

Dugdell brings a wealth of experience after completing a 26-year career as an engineer in the army, in which he served stints in Iraq, Afghanistan and Solomon Islands, as well as aiding the recovery operation for Cyclone Winston in Fiji.

Graduating from the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra with a degree in Civil Engineering, James went on to complete his training at the Royal Military College in Canberra. James’ career focused on the delivery of infrastructure in Australia and overseas with his final day in uniform last December.

After spending 16 days quarantining in Brisbane after a horror mishap extended their stay after returning from the United Kingdom, Dugdell and his family are happy to be in Yass.

“We’ve had a really good welcome to the community of Yass,” Dugdell said.

Dugdell views correcting the water supply issues and maintaining the roads of the Yass Valley as the most important tasks for him and his team as he begins his role at council.

“The water taste and colour issues need to be dealt with,” Dugdell stressed.

“We have to get a handle on keeping the roads up to standard,” he added.

Yass Valley Council reports it manages approximately $500 million of assets, of which roads are the largest asset category. Yass Valley Council counts the road network at 1,237 kilometres, excluding National Highways & State Roads.

Dugdell has worked on various water supply projects and hopes his extensive experience in the area will lead the team tasked with meeting the Yass water supply issues’ challenge at the present time.

“Having worked in water supply all around the world, I understand how difficult fixing water supply issues can be.”

“The team we have here are really keen on fixing the problem, and I intend to support them in that,” he said.

Yass Valley Council General Manager Chris Berry expressed his excitement about bringing the new director of engineering into the executive team.

“We’re very excited to have James on board, he brings a wealth of knowledge to the role and we look forward to working with him on projects that we know will benefit our community in the long run,” he said.

Delivering better infrastructure to communities is a consistent theme from James’ career highlights such as delivering water supply and sewer infrastructure in Iraq, schools and roads in Afghanistan, or post-disaster relief in Fiji.  James has also worked on the planning and delivery of infrastructure, training and health benefits in remote Australian communities as part of the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme, the highlight being the seven-month deployment he led to the remote community of Fregon in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands in north-west South Australia in 2013.

The Dugdell family have already settled in the area, and with schooling locally and an interest in horses, they have already begun to immerse themselves into community life. In his spare time, James enjoys running and cycling and now he has space, will return to gardening to grow fruit and vegetables.

James Dugdell looks forward to making a substantial contribution to making Yass Valley an even better place to live.

Max O’Driscoll