(EDITOR'S NOTE: Today the Sun-Gazette continues its second annual Person of the Year series. Each day will shine a spotlight on each of six finalists. On Monday the Sun-Gazette will name its 2012 Person of the Year.)
At the intersection of community planning and public artwork stands Mark Murawski.
Murawski, Lycoming County transportation planner, has been at the forefront of major road, bridge and airport improvement projects for 26 years. More recently, he's strived to bring artistic elements into his work that have helped to change the landscape of the city and beyond.
Whether it's the completed DuBoistown Bridge, a new terminal for the Williamsport Regional Airport or a statue of a woodhick on the Susquehanna Riverwalk, Murawski has been there to lend his professional and personal support.
Colleagues described him as hardworking and caring.
"He dives into everything," said Thomas J. Hart, executive director of the Williamsport Regional Airport, who has worked with Murawski on the county-appointed airport authority since 2003.
"I think one of the most important things about him is there's never a knee-jerk reaction. He can make a quick decision and 99 percent of the time they are the right decisions," Hart said.
Hart said Murawski was instrumental in the recent airport runway extension and update of the facility's master plan. He added that the traveling public doesn't necessarily notice Murawski's impact, but pilots and daily users of the airport do.
"Mark's one of those guys who obviously takes his job seriously, but he has the well-being of Lycoming County and its citizens at heart," he said.
Judy Olinsky, Williamsport Sun-Gazette's 2011 Person of the Year, said she has been impressed with Murawski's dedication to the promotion of public artwork since discussions about connecting the Susquehanna River to its communities took off in the mid- to late-1990s.
She said Murawski understands the connection - the big picture - between the arts and community development.
The Marcellus Shale boom won't be here forever, Olinsky added.
"Eventually, it will end. We've been moving in the direction of an arts town," she said. "I think he sees that the arts will be an asset to our future."
Former Lycoming County Commissioner Rebecca Burke said Murawski's tenure has benefited multiple boards of commissioners.
"We're very fortunate to have him. He's dedicated his life to public service," she said.
That dedication has led to Lycoming County being in the forefront of transportation projects through Murawski's statewide contacts, Burke said.
"He has been involved with everything from building the Market Street Bridge to moving the Tivoli church to restoring covered bridges," she said. "He has a passion for getting it right, and at the same time having it be efficient and all of the i's dotted and t's crossed."
Murawski, who admits his schedule is often packed with meetings among the many local and state agencies and groups of which he's a part, is quick to deflect praise to others.
"I have to multitask," he said. "But I think what's important for me to keep all the balls juggling is to be organized and have a great team that supports what I do at the office."
After almost three decades working in transportation planning, Murawski said now is the busiest he's ever been, even though federal and state funding for projects has been hard to come by.
"My main involvement for the next couple of years is to make sure the new airport terminal gets delivered," he said of the nearly $13 million proposed construction project at the Williamsport Regional Airport.
Murawski added that such projects as the expansion of the Route 15 corridor, future Interstate 99 designation of Route 220 in Woodward Township and replacement of structurally-deficient county bridges also are high on his list.
Although retirement from the county planning department doesn't appear to be in the near future for Murawski, he said a second career in the private sector is something to consider.
"I wouldn't rule anything out," he said, but "I love working at the county. I always have."