After leaving West Virginia, a place that John Denver described as "almost heaven," Ott Dameron says he feels he has a place in a real paradise now.

That is quite a statement from Orem's new director of public works, who oversees the city's sewer system, among many other things."Orem is my home now," said Dameron, who moved here six years ago.

"I love the people and the culture here," he said. And the people, especially Orem's public works employees, make the difference.

"If I succeed it will be because of their success," Dameron said. Many of the employees have expressed their support, and Dameron feels that makes his job much easier.

Dameron had worked in city government in Logan, W.Va., before he, his wife and four children settled in Orem, where he took a job as a budget analyst for the city and eventually moved in the Public Works Department as a division manager.

Then Public Works Director Jack Jones retired in December. But taking over for Jack Jones, who had served as director for nearly 17 years, was not easy.

Jones said he felt Dameron was the best choice, although many from around the country applied for the position.

"He knows the people and the operation," said Jones. "He will do a great job."

Despite this vote of confidence, Dameron said he has a few things to learn about the Orem Public Works program.

"My background does not include engineering," said Dameron, who has a degree in accounting and who managed the solid waste, landfill and fleet maintenance sections of the department for four and a half years.

The city has excellent engineers, Dameron said. And they are teaching him about the program.

"I had a good transition period with Jack until he retired," he said.

But Dameron still believes in change and is implementing ideas that are his own.

"My main objective in the next six months is to raise the visibility of the department in the eyes of the city administration and the residents of the city," he said.

The business of the Public Works Department is to serve, Dameron said. "The customer is the No. 1 priority."

A few ideas that Dameron is considering include "public works director for a day," where students from local schools could come into Dameron's office and do his job.

Another possibility is to create neighborhood and resident committees so that citizens can give input on public works projects before the projects are begun.

Some of the major problems Dameron said he will have to face in the upcoming years are the Environmental Protection Agency's new restrictions on landfills and the stringent requirements of the Clean Air Act.

But feeling comfortable and supported in his new role, Dameron feels the Public Works Department will be able to take all of these things in stride and make Orem a better place to live.