Richard Ridings, P.E., R.P.L.S.
Preparing my final message carries a mixed feeling as I complete my APWA presidential term. I will miss the joy of attending chapter functions from Maine to California and Alaska to Florida. However, I do look forward to getting back to managing public works projects.
I thank each of you for allowing me to be your president. I have the utmost respect for what all of you do for our communities, chapters and APWA. You are my Everyday Heroes! Public works is a family and you understand what it means to be a servant of the people, whether you work in the public or private sector.
In a previous article I expressed the importance our family members place on each of us, and mentoring others for our future, as we grow in public works. That family consists of immediate relatives, co-workers, chapters and all members of APWA. My growth as a public worker has been enhanced due to the training and education provided by APWA. I encourage you to do all you can to continue providing those opportunities for future public workers. Without the education, advocacy and relationships, none of us would have been able to reach our potential. You need to pass on those tenants to others.
I considered writing an article naming each of you who I have met and who have helped APWA and me over my last 34 years. However, I am limited by available space. Therefore I will try to highlight a few of the accomplishments we have attained.
First and most important has been the growth of chapter activities and the improved education programs you have made available. Second has been the recognition of individuals within our communities who have excelled. Third, we have improved the financial condition of our chapters and APWA National. Fourth, the current and past board members and presidents have continued to be involved in the education and mentoring of public works. Fifth, we have increased the recognition of public works on both the national and local levels. This has occurred in spite of the tragic events that took place on September 11 during our 2001 Congress. Without each of you, none of this would have happened. Thank you!
Cecilia Martinez, a fellow HNTB employee who helps me get to the right places at the right time, reminded me that I had 52 trips to complete while attending chapter functions. I knew what to expect when I arrived at your chapter, but I was always surprised. When I attended the Rocky Mountain Chapter meeting in Casper, Wyoming, I was overwhelmed by the knowledge and description John Nowak provided to chapter members about APWA's InfoNOW and InfoLink activities. Regina, Saskatchewan and Toronto, Ontario had excellent education programs led by Tim Haynes, Doug Drever and Rick Bino, teaching members how to effectively deal with water treatment challenges.
Arthur Stockus, Greg Dore and Skowhegan, Maine held a Snowplow Rodeo and more than 650 attendees received training in current public works functions in Maine. Jacksonville, Florida, with Jim Singleton and Doug Layton, was where the Florida Chapter spent three days focusing upon FDOT challenges and how local communities could better address street and highway funding needs. Southern California, with James Noyes and Shahn Ahmad, held an outstanding banquet honoring local chapter members.
During our San Diego meeting with Ann Burnett and Doug Isbell we learned what transportation and water supply/distribution needs are being planned to serve a constantly growing population. Alaska, with Mio Johnson, Craig Campbell, Dave Berg, Gene Darling, Vince Mee and Dave Calvert, was concerned about membership services and the quality of their ports as we inspected Anchorage, Soldotna and Seward. New England, with Jim Coppola, Rick Stinson and Julia Forgue, held an inspection of Cape Cod and a wonderful awards banquet where Rick Stinson was recognized as the Outstanding Service Leader for the chapter.
Pennsylvania, Delaware Valley, Delaware and Western Pennsylvania demonstrated excellent support for APWA at our Congress in Philadelphia and we shall never forget their service to APWA. Noel Thompson put on a fantastic Congress in Louisville along with the Virginia-D.C.-Maryland Chapters. He has also provided excellent leadership for the APWA-AGC Task Force. South Carolina, with Robert Anderson and the "Foggy Mountain Boys," provided one of the most entertaining banquets and Backhoe Rodeos. I hope to be with them again in Kansas City, as they know how to have a good time while completing excellent education training with Mark McCain.
South Bay Chapter's July meeting, led by Cyrus Kianpour, gave all in attendance the opportunity to discuss APWA's advocacy program and what needs to be done to improve funding for California's public works infrastructure. Bill and Maria Hoeft's backyard barbecue with Gordon Siebert and the South Bay Board was unique. Sacramento puts on the best public works support staff luncheon in the country. Win Westfall, Helena Allison, Marco Palilla and the local communities know how to make their fellow employees feel appreciated. Georgia Chapter leadership made my trip to Jekyll Island memorable, and Mike Joyner, Marvin Lee and Rick Smith are to be commended for the superior training and education programs provided for their membership. Claudette Campbell is a committed public works supporter who makes Georgia shine. Chicago Metro, one of the largest chapters in APWA, attained their position by continually emphasizing chapter leadership and training for public workers in the region. Our time spent with Larry Lux, Don Jakesch and Cathy Radek learning effective leadership traits for members will assist the region in growing APWA-Chicago Metro.
Arizona is hot in July and so are the chapter programs. Rodney Ramos, Bill McCarthy and Kim Moody planned excellent sessions and the golf course with President Jerry Fay and David Moody was in exceptional condition. Ohio, with Dorothy Pritchard and Linda Page, hosted an unbelievable APWA Snow Conference. The Kansas Chapter led by President Brenda Herrman held a joint meeting in Salina, Kansas with the County Engineers and KDOT where we discussed the future of public works funding for highways and city streets. New Orleans has one of the best National Public Works Week recognition luncheons in the country. Bill Sewell and Elrhei Thibodeaux appreciate our public works heroes and duly recognize their efforts during the luncheon.
Kansas City Metro led by Chuck Madden continually raises the bar for public works recognition. Their PACE Nomination, Christmas Award Ceremony and Summer Education Program are excellent examples of how we should grow public works. Alberta, with Guy Boston, Paul Goranson and Warren Andrews, was a memorable training experience in Bampf. I would recommend that location for any educational program as the ambiance enhanced a serene environment around their Leadership Training program.
Nevada provided me the opportunity to award Marty Manning and the Clark County Public Works Department with our prestigious APWA Accreditation recognition during a County Commission meeting attended by members of the Nevada Chapter. I am looking forward to this year's Tahoe education programs. I missed last year while undergoing cancer treatments. See ya in Tahoe! New Jersey was short but outstanding as I met with Presidents Gottko and Rafferty and chapter leaders to review their successful spring meeting. Howard LaFever and I drove from New Jersey west along the Delaware River and then north to Cazenovia and Rochester where we met with the New York Chapter, led by Kevin O'Brien and Bruce Secor. Howard and his lovely wife, Lynde, let me spend the night in their beautiful home and I was so impressed with the beauty of Howard's state.
New York Metro, Ron Delo and Harry Weed gave me a tour of Robert Moses' dream-come-true on Long Island, where the chapter held their annual banquet and awards ceremony near Richard Lenz's community of Oyster Bay. North Carolina held their annual meeting near the South Carolina border and David Meachum, Dale James and Malcolm Lewis orchestrated a superior program for those in attendance. The Washington and Oregon Chapters, led by Richard Andrews, Jack Pittis, Bob Deuel and Hugh Kalani, decided to hold a joint chapter meeting along the Columbia River. What an outstanding program and location! I shall never forget my Easter Service on the Columbia.
Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and New Mexico provide the background for my training and education in public works. Needless to say, I have attended more chapter meetings in those states than others over the past two years not only because they are physically close, but also because they are close to my heart. Jayne Longley, Susan Causey, Charlie Thomas, Matt Singleton, Tom Wendorf, John German, Marsha Reed, Inas Aweidah, Larry Hertel, Ron Harper, Bobby Atteberry, Jimmy Foster, J.C. Wood, Bill Verkest and the entire Texas Chapter have been so helpful in letting me reach this point in my career. I shall never forget what all of you have done for APWA. Paul Brum and Sonny Miller just received their 30-year "Lifetime Membership" from Mary Ann Summerfield, recognizing all they have done for the Oklahoma Chapter in Oklahoma City. I enjoyed the annual chapter visits and the dedicated educational programs provided by Lloyd Davis, Ken Hill and D.W. Converse. Jimmy Berry, DPW in Norman, knows that Oklahoma is truly OK!
Bob Freudenthal and the Tennessee Chapter combined meetings with the Tennessee Municipal League in Bob Whetsel's hometown of Knoxville. Mark Macy provided a chapter meeting in Nashville and Phil Pindzola of Johnson City rounded out the hospitality in my state of origin. Ed Archer really knows how to administer a chapter. Wisconsin and Jeff Mazanec hold exceptional training programs at the University in Madison with Howard Rosen. We are planning a November meeting in Appleton and I will see education in action again. Minnesota hosted a Top Ten Luncheon on the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minneapolis. What a superb ceremony that was! LeRoy Givens of the New Mexico Chapter has worked with Steve Christensen to maintain continuity and education programs within the chapter. The Colorado Chapter, led by Rowena Pennell and Marlene Crosby, is still expanding the chapter education programs we participated in at the Denver Congress.
Chapters are the heart of APWA. You develop our future leaders while continuing the education of current members. Although the task is time-consuming and difficult at times for a volunteer organization, I encourage you to remember that your efforts improve the quality of public works. Thank you!
APWA has expanded individual recognition significantly over the last 34 years. Recognizing people, communities, and projects, I believe, is one of the most significant activities of APWA. The APWA President is blessed with the duty to call each of our Top Ten Leaders and inform them of their selection. Also, the president, vice president, past president and/or board members get to attend the local ceremony and present the award in the Top Ten communities. What an honor for all involved! Augie Caires, Pat Biegler, Jason Cosby, George Crombie, Dave Gravenkamp, Chuck Owsley, James Reynolds, Gary Simmons, Lawrence Thacker and Marc Thornsberry will be with us on Monday night in Kansas City at the APWA Congress to be formally recognized by APWA for their Top Ten Leader Awards. Don't miss this opportunity to congratulate them, along with the Project of the Year and individual category winners.
My hope is that we will continue to expand individual recognition within our chapters. Everyone appreciates a pat on the back for a job well done. What is being done in your chapter to enhance this program? The chapter meetings I have attended over the last two years while serving on the APWA Executive Committee have emphasized recognition. The winners of the Rodeo competition in Skowhegan, Maine; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and San Antonio, Texas, I assure you, were just as thankful for their recognition as our Top Ten Leaders.
National Public Works Week will be here again before we know it. Work with our APWA staff in Kansas City to receive assistance in preparing for NPWW in your community. A sample proclamation to be approved by your governor, mayor or commission is part of the pre-prepared package. Outstanding public workers should receive public recognition during this week, as should superior projects and events sponsored by your local community emphasizing public works efforts. Take advantage of this time once a year, at the very least to recognize what a great job you and your colleagues in the public and private sectors do for the public.
I have emphasized family support as a part of our recognition process. Sharon Ridings, my wife, has done more to support my growth than anyone else has. As a cancer survivor, Sharon has been most supportive in understanding why I need to be traveling the country visiting APWA chapters while she continues her treatments. Remember that public works is a family and we need to recognize our family accomplishments. You are doing an excellent job. Keep it up. Thank you!
The APWA Board of Directors met at our Washington, D.C. office on June 1 to approve our $9.4 million budget. Dwayne Kalynchuk, Marshall Elizer, Bob Freudenthal, Tom Trice, Larry Frevert, Judy Mueller and our APWA staff have significantly improved APWA's financial condition and budget process over the last two years. We completed the 2001-2002 budget year with the best financial condition held during my past 11 years on the board. This has not been an easy task. Teri Newhouse of our APWA staff has worked faithfully with each of our chapters to enhance our accounting and reporting programs. You should be aware that we need to increase our membership numbers in order to further improve our ability to deliver sound educational programs in the future.
Although we have a $9.4 million national budget, only $2.8 million comes from membership fees. This severely limits our ability to educate, advocate and provide sharing opportunities for our current and future members. We need to double the size of APWA to be more effective. Bill Verkest and our Membership Committee, led by Lee Hawkins and our APWA staff in Kansas City, have worked diligently with each region and chapter to identify opportunities for retention and expansion of members. President Manning and the APWA Board of Directors are making membership our number one priority for 2002-2003. We know that membership growth has to come from the local chapters. I pledge to do all I can to recruit additional members. Join with us as we grow APWA. Ask someone to become a member in your chapter. If each member recruits one additional member next year, our membership will double and so will our educational programs and influence in advocating public works funding.
Our APWA InfoNOW and InfoLink websites make it possible for you to ask any question about how to solve public works challenges, permit activities on-line, research alternatives, take bids, and hold on-line training sessions. This is the tool of the present and the future. I can remember waiting months to receive survey data on street repair costs from other communities after we would mail out requests. Now it only takes a few hours to receive that data from fellow members all over the U.S. and Canada. We need to become masters of data management and information sharing in order to more effectively serve the public. With increased membership and revenues we can expand these programs.
The APWA Congress in Kansas City will allow you once again to continue your public works education and expand your relationships. Ed Wolf, Larry Frevert, Chuck Madden and the local host communities have spent the last three years working very hard with Dana Priddy of our APWA staff to ensure another successful program. The APWA Congress is the single event that represents what APWA is all about while also being the most important net revenue attribute. We need you to attend this event. You will improve your knowledge about issues facing public works and how to solve problems. The exhibitors and sponsors will be looking for you to spend time with them on the floor learning about their services and products. They support APWA at the chapter and national levels and we need to let them know how much we appreciate their support and attendance at Congress. Thank them! They are important to our financial future.
Twenty-five years ago, I was listening to John Roark, 1977 APWA President and Director of Public Works, Dallas, Texas. John was speaking about why it was important to be involved in APWA and why we should spend more personal time trying to help train and educate ourselves and our fellow workers through APWA. He was one of the many leaders who inspired me to become more active in APWA and set a goal of becoming APWA President. During my last eleven years on the board I have been mentored by Presidents Marty Manning, Judy Mueller, Jerry Fay, Bob Miller, Bob Albee, Win Westfall, Ken Haag, Geoff Greenough, George Rowe, Ron Norris, Max Whitman, Ron Jensen and a host of board members. Leaders may be born or they may be trained to become leaders. Whatever the course, I appreciate their commitment and patience.
Seven hundred current leaders are identified in the 2002 APWA Leadership Directory. I am convinced that we could name 26,642 and double that amount if we considered those who are not members of APWA. Can you think of someone who inspired you to achieve your potential? Many of you have listened to me speak of Joe Irwin, Director of Utilities for Maryville, Tennessee in 1968. I was employed as a laborer in the Maryville Water and Wastewater Division at that time. Joe would delight in taking children from the elementary schools through his facilities. He would insist that the buildings and equipment be spotless as they represented the quality service provided by the public workers. Charles Markham, Director of Public Works for Texarkana, Texas in 1969, required quality assurance techniques for each public works activity. Aubrey Adcock, his successor, focused on the importance of customer service. Paul West, City Manager and former Director of Public Works, was my mentor when I was employed as City Engineer for the City of Farmers Branch, Texas. He would require that we develop several alternative solutions for each problem facing the city.
John German, DPW in Austin, Texas, hired me in 1978 as his assistant. I shall forever be thankful for his effective communication training and dedication to public workers. Terry Childers, City Manager who appointed me as the ACM in Oklahoma City, was a seasoned veteran who believed much like Robert Moses, that public works funding was necessary to maintain a community's economic viability and quality of life. Oklahoma's Governor Henry Bellmon believed that public workers could accomplish any reasonable task with support from their superiors. Harvey Hammond, Lynn Hartford and Keith Rosbury of HNTB are strongly committed to private sector support and engagement in local communities and associations. Without their support and understanding I would not have been able to attend the chapter meetings. Thank you!
Public Works Recognition
The public we serve expects us to be proactive in identifying problems and developing solutions for our public works infrastructure. Last year we recognized the Top Ten Public Works Projects of the Twentieth Century. These were outstanding accomplishments, which should encourage all. Think about the positive accomplishments that have taken place in our country and your community and build upon that history. Advocate public works improvements by example and make sure the citizens you serve are aware of what you are doing. While you are advocating public works, inform your community of the unfunded needs that are facing our future. Use GASB-34 as a tool to accurately support your position. Do not be overwhelmed. Consider how far we have advanced in the last 36 years.
In 1966 over 42,000 deaths were occurring on our nation's roadways. If you project that number forward based upon the deaths per vehicle mile traveled, one would expect over 150,000 deaths per year in 2002. However, the number of fatalities has not increased. What happened? Public works designed and constructed more safe roadways to meet the growing population. The interstate system and local roadways were designed to improve safety. This is good news! Use this information and similar public works infrastructure facts that are found at www.apwa.net. You can imagine where we will be as a country if we do not adequately maintain and grow our infrastructure with quality.
Public works is the backbone of this country. We are currently facing difficult financial times. The best way to avoid sustained economic difficulty is to invest in our infrastructure now. For example, just think what might have happened in 1929 if we as a country had sold bonds and put everyone to work constructing our interstate system instead of waiting until the 1950s. Perhaps we could have avoided the stock market crash effects on our workforce and built our public works infrastructure at a lower cost. Our construction sector is now able to rapidly construct major facilities and we should proceed while competing employment competition is suffering. Our population will continue to grow and we need to grow our transit, airport, water, wastewater, solid waste, public buildings, parks, and highway systems. Public works should be recognized as the solution.
Advocate public works. Join the Legislative Advocacy Task Force (LATF). Jim Fahey of our Washington staff needs your help informing our national, state and local political leaders about our public works infrastructure needs. You can receive a lifetime APWA Presidential Appointment and become engaged in communicating infrastructure facts by going to www.apwa.net, go to Government Affairs and click on the icon entitled LATF. By entering your APWA membership number you will automatically be enrolled as a LATF member and receive your Presidential Appointment Certificate by mail shortly after signing up. We will assist you with facts, writing letters and informing you on current events affecting public works. To get more recognition will require that we as a public works team put forth the effort of communicating our needs and ability to respond.
Our excellent APWA staff led by Peter King, Kaye Sullivan, Dana Priddy, Brenda Shaver, Heather McTavish, Andrea Fisher, Nickole Blankenship, Ann Daniels, Jim Fahey, Lee Hawkins, Patty Mahan, Patricia Kutt, Karen Bloodworth, David Dancy, Dave Reinke, and Kevin Clark stand ready to assist you in recognizing public workers. Utilize their talents, as I have, to develop solutions for your community and your chapter of APWA. Think about the possibilities, develop a plan, and act.
When I think about great people such as our Top Ten Leaders past and present, I think about public works. When I see infrastructure problems I think about historical and innovative public works solutions past and present. When I think about the tragic events of September 11, I see a public worker in the middle with a firefighter on one side and a police officer on the other as they walk out of the pit. You have planted that "Everyday Heroes" vision in my mind and it forever will comfort me. Thank you!