Wisconsin celebrates 50th

Bill Kappel
Director of Public Works
City of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

APWA's Wisconsin Chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary at the chapter's annual fall conference held November 3-5 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The conference was held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and was hosted by Mark Lentz, Director of Public Works for the City of Fond du Lac, and his staff. The chapter's traditional pig roast, our opening social event at most conferences, took place at Whispering Springs Clubhouse. More than 220 people registered for the conference.

Thursday's session opened with a history of APWA given by the current Public Works Historical Society (PWHS) President and a chapter member, Dr. Howard Rosen. After hearing about the history of the association, our current National President Tom Trice brought us up to the present day and our immediate future. This was the theme carried throughout the conference: "What is the role of history in public works and what does the future look like?"

Other topics on Thursday included "Trends in Public Works Contracting," "Recent Trends and Developments in Water Rights Legislation and Regulation," "Managing in a Data Rich Environment" and "The Inevitable Future of Wisconsin."

At lunch on Thursday the chapter was joined by sixteen past presidents of the chapter, five winners of APWA's Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year award, and one Top Ten winner who is also a former APWA and PWHS President, Herb Goetsch, the retired Commissioner of Public Works from the City of Milwaukee. All of these leaders were presented with certificates acknowledging their past leadership roles and responsibilities for making the Wisconsin Chapter what it is today.

At the Banquet on Thursday evening, the chapter presented awards to the Top Ten Public Works Projects in Wisconsin and the runners-up. Awards were presented in ten different project categories.

Friday's sessions opened with Martin V. Melosi from the University of Houston who spoke about how "History Matters, What Can We Learn from Public Works in the Past." Two concurrent sessions spoke to the "Future of Transportation Funding in Wisconsin" and "The Role of Public Works in Community Redevelopment." The conference closed out with a session on workforce development led by Joe Toole from the Office of Professional Development, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C. An excellent example of workforce development was provided by members of the Fond du Lac Association of Commerce. The City of Fond du Lac participates as well with an engineering apprenticeship program.

After lunch, the new chapter officers were installed for 2005. A listing of them can be found on the chapter website at http://wisconsin.apwa.net.

Fond du Lac was an excellent host, the conference was well attended, the 50th anniversary celebration was great, and the educational sessions were right on target combining the history and future of public works!

Bill Kappel can be reached at (414) 479-8933 or at bkappel@wauwatosa.net.

Front row left to right: Don Holland (1978), Edward Bennett (1961), John Curtis (1997), Dave Kuemmel (Top Ten Award 1988), Roger Goodwin (2000), James Blazek (1985), and Herb Goetsch (Past National President 1974-75, Top Ten Award 1968, and Past PWHS President 1985-86); second row: Harvey Elmer (1986), Frank Dadam (2002), John Erickson (1992), Jim Kaminski (Top Ten Award 1996, Chapter President 1999), Gerald Schwerm (Top Ten Award 1978); Bill Kappel (2004), and Thomas White (1998); back row: Fred Haerter (1988), Maurice Rott (1993), Don Hiller (1995), Larry Nelson (1996), Jeff Mazanec (2003), and Sandra Westbrook (2001)