Community relations and outreach programs

Jerry Pickett
Street Superintendent
City of Greeley, Colorado

The City of Greeley, Colorado, Department of Public Works conducts the following three community relations and outreach programs annually:

  • Snow Control Open House
  • Snowplow Painting Contest
  • School Show and Tell Program

Snow Control Open House

The Street Division’s first open house was in 1990. The idea was to open communication lines with citizens before the start of the snow season. By conducting the open houses, phone calls during snowstorms have reduced due to citizens having a greater understanding of the snow control operations.

The Street Division is hosting its 10th annual open house on October 7, 2000. More than 1,000 citizens attended the open house in 1999.

The open house is held at our large shopping mall. The Street Division displays all of its snow control equipment, snow route maps, and snow control plan, and also distributes handouts (i.e. snow control brochures, APWA coloring books, pencils, and balloons). In addition, citizens are treated to free hot dogs, pop, popcorn, and prize drawings every 30 minutes. Prizes are donated by local businesses. This has proven to be an excellent way to get information to citizens as well as provide them with an opportunity to gain an understanding of the City’s snow control operations while viewing the snow control equipment.

Equipment operators are on hand to explain how the equipment operates and to answer any questions citizens may have. Attendees, both adults and children, get to crawl into the equipment. This is the only opportunity many of them will ever have at playing with “the big toys.”

Snowplow Painting Contest

The idea for kids to paint the snow plows occurred in 1996. Local kids who were caught painting graffiti throughout the city were given the opportunity to paint a mural on snowplows, using their talent in a positive manner. Four snowplows were painted that first year.

The program was expanded in 1997. We talked to administrators of the local schools and encouraged the students to paint snowplows. We determined that it was important to develop a theme for the kids to follow; the theme they had in 1997 was “animals.” Nine snowplows were painted that year.

The city currently has 15 snowplows and did not have enough available for all the schools interested in competing in 1999. Due to the popularity of this program, schools are limited to one snowplow per school. If any snowplows are available after the deadline, a school may get another one.

The painted snowplow is assigned to the snow district where the school is located in order for the kids to see the snowplow in action all winter. A clear coat of polyurethane is applied to the snowplows after the kids have finished painting, which increases the life of the paint on each snowplow.

Cash prizes are awarded in four categories: elementary, middle school, junior high, and high school. First-, second- and third-place winners in each category are awarded $50, $30, and $20, respectively. Judging is performed by the citizens who attend the snow control open house.

School Show and Tell Program

This program began in 1995. The school district is contacted approximately three weeks after the beginning of school. This provides teachers and students time to get adjusted to the new school year. Interested schools contact us and set up an entire day (9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) to bring several pieces of heavy equipment to their school (i.e. front end loader, road grader, sewer cleaner, street sweeper, backhoe, asphalt roller, dump truck, and snowplows). There is a maximum of four pieces of equipment per school.

Ten 30-minute time slots are set up and students rotate through all the equipment. This allows four classrooms per time slot, and 40 classes to attend per day. Equipment operators explain and show the students how and why the equipment is used.

This program has been an excellent way to explain career development to the students and to give them a better understanding of what safety precautions to take when around heavy equipment.

All three of these programs have proven to be very successful for the City of Greeley. The local newspaper, radio stations, and cable television stations are notified about events, and each year we have received very positive coverage.

If your agency is looking for ways to get information to your citizens and increase community involvement, we highly recommend conducting these types of programs.

For more information, please contact Jerry Pickett at 970-350-9335 or pickettj@ci.greeley.co.us.