Neil H. Fravel has been the Public Works Director for the City of Panama City since September 2002. Prior to that he served as the Assistant City Engineer for the city, beginning in December 1998. In his current position, Mr. Fravel supervises the activities of the 127-person Public Works Department, which is made up of the Engineering, Maintenance, and Solid Waste Divisions. The men and women of this department are responsible for the design and construction of the city’s facilities, development and operation of the city’s on-line Geographical Information System (GIS), maintenance of all city buildings, streets, drainage systems, and traffic signals, and collection and disposal of commercial and residential garbage and yard trash.
Mr. Fravel was born and raised outside of Winchester, Virginia at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley. Three weeks after finishing high school, he was a Basic Cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (CE). The following year he received a Master of Science degree (also in CE) from the University of Illinois.
For 22 years he served as an Air Force Civil Engineering officer with assignments that covered most of the Gulf Coast: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida (including 2 assignments to Tyndall Air Force Base) with Colorado and Washington State thrown in for variety. These were also interspersed with overseas assignments to Taiwan, Okinawa, Diego Garcia, and Guam. During his Air Force career his duties included being a design engineer, a staff officer, head of the Air Force Civil Engineering Research Laboratory at Tyndall Air Force Base, a Navy exchange tour as a company commander in a Seabee battalion, 2 tours as commander of Air Force civil engineering squadrons, and 4 years teaching Civil Engineering courses at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
About halfway through his Air Force career, during his first assignment at Tyndall Air Force Base, he met and married Elizabeth Ashton here in Panama City in 1981.
After all the moving in the military, he retired from the Air Force in 1994 and went to work for a company out of Colorado Springs, CO serving the next 4 years as their Project Manager on facility maintenance contracts, living in Pennsylvania, California, and Alaska. In March 1998, having had their fill of racing moving vans across the country, Neil and Elizabeth returned to Panama City, to the home they had purchased in the Cove area in 1990 during their last tour at Tyndall Air Force Base. In December 1998, he began working for the City of Panama while Elizabeth was busy opening her own business (a used bookstore) on Harrison Avenue.
He and Elizabeth have 2 daughters that are both out of the house, but not always their pocketbook. Dana is in south Florida and Jamie lives in north Georgia. Between them, he and Elizabeth enjoy 5 grandchildren.
Mr. Fravel is a registered Professional Engineer in the States of Florida and Colorado. He is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, and is active in the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Florida Engineering Society, having served recently as the president of the local chapter.