Modified: March 16, 2021 10:09am

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The American Public Works Association (“APWA”) New York Chapter Western Branch has announced that Erie County Commissioner of Public Works William Geary, Jr. and Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein have each received recognition, with Geary receiving the 2020 Public Works Leader of the Year Award and Burstein being honored with the Most Valuable Service Award, COVID-19 Award. In addition, APWA recognized the rehabilitation of Tonawanda Creek Road, a public works project completed in 2020, as the 2020 Transportation Project of the Year. While county infrastructure projects have received APWA recognition in the past, this marks the first time that two sitting county Commissioners have garnered awards from APWA in the same year. Both Burstein and Geary will receive their award plaques at a future APWA event.


“Congratulations to Commissioners Geary and Burstein on being honored with these APWA awards, which are well-deserved and demonstrate both the quality of the work being done in Erie County and the quality of the personnel doing that work,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Even as the COVID-19 pandemic came over Erie County in 2020, our personnel rose to the occasion and significant projects were completed. Being recognized for leadership and service to the public is always appreciated and our Commissioners have certainly earned it.”


In awarding the 2020 Public Works Leader of the Year Award to DPW Commissioner Geary APWA recognized his “outstanding career service and far-reaching, positive impact on public works programs, services and policies.” Now in his fourth year as Commissioner, he had served as Deputy Commissioner in the Department since October 2012, has served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves since 1991 and was named “Reservist of the Year” in 2004. Geary has been awarded 20 medals from the U.S. Air Force and also served on two one-year tours in Iraq/Afghanistan in 2003 and 2005.


Commissioner Burstein received the 2020 Most Valuable Services Award, COVID-19 Award in recognition of her “outstanding performance and exceeding expectations in order to safeguard the well-being of our community during the pandemic.” APWA further recognized Dr. Burstein’s “leadership, taking on additional responsibilities, developing protocols and communicating with the community to promote health and safety” in granting the award, her first APWA Award.  



Reconstruction and stabilization work began on Tonawanda Creek Road (CR 559) in the Town of Clarence in February 2020 as part of a multi-million dollar project. The project included three sites, two on Tonawanda Creek Road in Niagara County and one in Erie County in the Town of Clarence.  The Erie County project required the reconstruction and stabilization of the portion of Tonawanda Creek Road that failed in June 2014 and led to the closure of the road to through traffic.  The Clarence portion made up approximately $2.1 million of the project’s $7.2 million overall cost, which was completed in summer 2020 and was funded through a combination of federal and state aid.




For more information:



On the Erie County Department of Public Works, visit


On the Erie County Department of Health, visit 


On the American Public Works Association NY Chapter, Western Branch, visit   






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