Niles manager leaving for job with FEMA in February
by JASON MEREL
Longtime Village of Niles manager Steven Vinezeano will leave the village at the end of the month for a position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in February,
Originally set to retire before he was offered the FEMA job, Vinezeano reflected on two decades of service to the village and his plans.
"At the end of the day, it is the many Niles residents, elected officials, and employees that I have worked closely with over the past 20 years that I will miss the most," Vinezeano said.
Vinezeano said he will be joining FEMA to help local municipalities and governments navigate the administration of FEMA’s public assistance programs. He said the role deals with everything from mitigation to beginning, during and aftermath of an emergency.
"My understanding is that I would be working with Region 5," Vinezeano said. "With my background, I hope I end up being a valuable contributor to the organization."
Vinezeano said that city management is a wonderful profession that has given him a lot of opportunities and he is looking forward to serving a larger area.
He said that he has had FEMA in the back of his mind for a while. "Helping people when they are in the worst place is one of the most rewarding ways to serve," he said.
Vinezeano said he is proud of several projects her worked on and the overall trajectory of Niles government.
"When Mayor (Nicholas) Blase was here, he asked me to seek a grant to help improve Milwaukee Avenue and what we ended up getting our hands on was a study from the RTA for the Pulse line, which is there now," he said. "We added beautification along Milwaukee as well, through enhancement grants from the state."
"Mayor Calerro made the push to stop flooding in the village which has certainly improved the quality of life for residents. Starting in 2010, before things were built out, you’d get a 3-inch rain and things are getting flooded. Now you get some rare yard or street flooding. The program still has a lot to do and problems are still out there, but we’re not getting 300 calls after a rain any more," he said.
The Niles storm water mitigation project and the water supply switch from Chicago to the City of Evanston were also completed during his tenure. He said he takes pride in those projects because they were the first time the village held public forums, which he credited with improving transparency of village government.
Deputy village manager Hadley Skeffington-Vos will assume the title of acting village manager on Feb. 1, and the village will begin a search for Vinezeano’s permanent replacement.
"As I leave city government, I think it’s important for people to understand that things might be crazy right now at the federal level, but at the local level, government works directly for the people and people should do everything they can to make their communities better," Vinezeano said. "Over the last 4 or 5 years, I’ve seen this attack on public servants and professional government employees that really upsets me, because for 99 percent of the people out there doing the job, it’s a calling, and I’d hate for people to lose sight of that."