Highlights from the Combined Technical Committee Meeting

Committees network, discuss hot topics

R. Kevin Clark
Editor, APWA Reporter

They came for the goal planning, networking, relationship building, and the opportunity to provide benefits for our members—and, of course, to take another shot at that great Kansas City barbecue.

Members of APWA's Technical Committees and leaders of the association met February 28-March 2 in Kansas City for the third annual Combined Technical Committee Meeting, held at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center hotel near APWA headquarters. The Combined Meeting is one of just two opportunities during the year (the other is at Congress) for the committee members to meet face-to-face to develop business plans, review policy and position statements, and discuss issues that affect APWA's membership.

On Friday, February 28, members of the Emergency Management, Engineering and Technology, Facilities and Grounds, Utility and Public Right-of-Way (UPROW), and Water Resources Management Committees gathered for individual committee meetings to discuss a number of current projects and issues. Homeland security was the hot topic with the Emergency Management Committee, and the group discussed the work of the Homeland Security Task Force, our recent partnership agreement with FEMA, and ways to provide information to our members regarding homeland security issues. The Engineering and Technology Committee explored topics such as a technology survey to our members, the coordination and current status of Geographic Information Systems, and standardization of electronic permitting. The Facilities and Grounds Committee reviewed a publication which they plan to launch at Congress dealing with the design, building and maintenance of public works yards, and identified publications within our catalog that would constitute a complete facilities manager's library. One of the main issues discussed by the UPROW Committee concerned federal legislation as to who controls the right-of-way; the committee discussed the importance of public agencies having control of the right-of-way without the input of the federal government. Finally, the Water Resources Management Committee spent time revising policy and position statements, reviewing materials for publication of the Financing Stormwater Utilities book, and began preliminary discussions on the development of a new book on water reclamation.

On Saturday, the five aforementioned committees along with the Fleet Services, Leadership and Management, Solid Waste Management, and Transportation Committees came together to interact and to hear from association leadership. APWA President Marty Manning began the session by sharing the current status of the association and expressing appreciation to all the committee members for the service they provide to the association. President-Elect Dwayne Kalynchuk then discussed the timing and plans for the review and update of APWA's Strategic Plan, and shared possible avenues as to how that will be accomplished.

Following the comments by Manning and Kalynchuk, Ron Norris, past national president and current chair of the Government Affairs Committee, shared with the group the advocacy priorities that have been developed for this year, and that the GAC is reviewing the process for developing and adopting policy and position statements. Following the morning break, Dave Dancy, Director of Marketing, provided a report on the initial work on APWA's branding campaign, which sparked a good deal of discussion among the members. Peter King, Executive Director, mentioned the positive response the branding survey has received from association members and the Board of Directors.

The final presentation of the morning dealt with homeland security and emergency management. Emergency Management Committee member Brian Usher, who chairs the Homeland Security Task Force, provided a report that included the goals and activities of the task force (see the April APWA Reporter, page 35, for more details). Larry Nadeau, chair of the Emergency Management Committee, updated the group on the committee's activities since the signing of the partnership agreement with FEMA. As Nadeau noted, APWA has been represented at six national emergency management stakeholder group meetings, conferences and seminars in the past three months, which demonstrates the higher visibility public works is receiving in the areas of homeland security and emergency management.

In the afternoon the participants divided into six groups for a series of roundtable discussions, topics of which included Smart Growth, Homeland Security, APWA Strategic Planning, InfoNOW, Awards, and InfoLink. As in the past, the purpose of the roundtable discussions was to provide committee input on pressing issues for the association and the industry. An effort was made to have representation at each of the roundtables from all of the Technical Committees.

Sunday, March 2, involved another full day of individual committee meetings. The Fleet Services Committee discussed ways to deliver needed training to our public facility members in light of tight budgets. Issues discussed by the Leadership and Management Committee included their business plan, articles for the APWA Reporter, sessions for Congress, and the core competency survey which was completed last year (covered in the April APWA Reporter on page 27). The Solid Waste Management Committee finalized the "Beneficial Reuses of our Closed Landfills" book, which will be available at Congress, and dealt with issues such as reclamation of closed landfills and the economic realities facing public sector recycling programs. Issues addressed by the Transportation Committee included the reauthorization of TEA-21, the ethanol tax, and the possibility of establishing subcommittees, in addition to the Winter Maintenance subcommittee, for various special projects.

Ultimately, the three-day series of meetings allowed the nine Technical Committees to refocus their efforts on issues relevant to the public works industry. And it was clear that the committees shared a single common goal—to become more of a resource to the 27,000 members of APWA. Indeed, the membership will derive a number of indirect and tangible benefits from the Combined Technical Committee Meeting, including new Click, Listen and Learn training sessions and other educational programs, new publications, articles for the Reporter, and sessions at Congress.

Comments from Committee Chairs:

"Our mid-year Combined Technical Committee Meeting affords committee members a chance to network on issues and needs that develop during the year. The best part of these meetings is the fact that our leadership is present, which allows them to feel the dedication that each and every committee commits toward the overall APWA strategic plan and goals. No more and no less than deep-rooted and sincere commitment." — Larry Nadeau, Emergency Management Committee

"Although the half-day meeting at Congress and monthly conference calls allow the Water Resources Management Committee to function, the full-day meeting allows us to really have detailed discussions on important issues facing the public works field. Then we can provide better information to members on important water resources topics on stormwater, wastewater and potable water issues. At this meeting, we started to lay the groundwork for another possible publication and for a series of Click, Listen and Learn training sessions. The second day with all the committees present allows for the board to get some face-to-face feedback on specific topics. In addition, committees can look at opportunities to work together on Congress sessions, publications and training." — Bob Carr, Water Resources Management Committee

"The two-day session was both enjoyable and intense. It is definitely the best opportunity committee members have to meet face-to-face and to network with the board, other committees and APWA staff." — Steve Magnusen, Leadership and Management Committee

"The best part about the Combined Technical Committee Meeting is talking and socializing with my counterparts from all over North America." — Mark Macy, Utility and Public Right-of-Way Committee

"The annual Combined Technical Committee Meeting provides a unique opportunity for undisturbed quality time for individual committees to check in on work plan progress and to develop the framework for the upcoming business plan. The interface with the other committees allows for work plan coordination, associating names with faces, and building a connection between committee activities and the national agenda. The time spent with APWA staff and board members is also invaluable in building relationships, the cornerstone of all volunteer committee work." — Kurt Corey, Engineering and Technology Committee

"This is the first time the Regional Directors of APWA participated in a Combined Meeting, so they got a better understanding of the Technical Committees. It was a great opportunity for new and old committee members to forge new relationships and to discuss various issues affected by their own and other committees. There was real value in the fellowship of spending two days with our peers, working together towards a common goal of being the most knowledgeable in our profession." — Clarence Wright, Facilities and Grounds Committee

Technical Committee to launch new "yards" publication

Karen Bloodworth
Technical Services Program Manager
APWA Kansas City Office

Facilities and Grounds is one of nine Technical Committees chaired and staffed by APWA members. Each committee serves as the "center of expertise" in their subject area. As such, they are responsible for the oversight of policy, education, technical and professional development programs in their jurisdiction. You can find committee rosters, business plans, summaries of monthly meetings, policies, and committee interest forms at, and choose Technical Committees.

A major project for the Facilities and Grounds Technical Committee this year has been the development of a new publication on public works yards. Committee members met with writer Christine H. Taylor-Butler to provide technical expertise and review content issues.

In the introduction the author notes that "there are many variables involved in designing the ideal facility, more than can be listed in this publication. However, these chapters will provide an overview of the most common components as well as discuss common planning mistakes."

The location, orientation and external/internal design play a large part in the ability to create a long-term sustainable use for a building. Assembling the appropriate team of design professionals will help avoid common mistakes. Completing a "Pre-Design" analysis will minimize obsolescence by planning for the function of occupants now and in the future.

This new publication will provide detailed information on topics such as:

  • Design of Public Works Yards
  • Site Analysis/Survey
  • Internal Building Components
  • Service Yards
  • Parking and Vehicular Traffic
  • Landscaping
  • Final Walkthrough
  • Accessibility and ADA
Review of the final draft was recently completed by committee members Clarence Wright, committee chair and Manager, Department of Recreation, Detroit, MI; Gene Moore, General Manager, City of Sacramento, CA; Dwight Riggle, Certified Facilities Manager, Jefferson County, KY; Venu Gupta, Director of Buildings and Fleet, City of Milwaukee, WI; Bill Trivitt, Facilities Specialist, City of Springfield, MO; and Hildo Hernandez, Retired Director of Physical Plan Management for California State University at Northridge, CA.

The publication will move to Connie Hartline, Publications Manager, for final proofing and formatting, and finally to graphics for design and layout. APWA plans to launch this much anticipated publication at the 2003 Congress in San Diego. Stop by the bookstore and be one of the first to have a look at this new publication. You can also shop on-line at

The Facilities and Grounds Committee board liaison is Larry Frevert and Karen Bloodworth serves as the APWA staff liaison.

Karen Bloodworth can be reached at 800-848-APWA or at