Changes abound at this year's Snow Conference

R. Mark DeVries
Maintenance Superintendent
McHenry County Division of Transportation
Woodstock, Illinois
Vice Chair, APWA Winter Maintenance Subcommittee

What a difference a year makes! The Chicago White Sox are World Champs, the Chicago Bears are in first place (at least when this article was written; and even better the Packers trail the division), NIU and Northwestern will likely be in bowl games, and the Cubs...well, some things never change. But it's a welcome change from a year ago if you are a Chicago area sports fan. A year will make a huge difference at this year's North American Snow Conference as well.

The 2006 APWA North American Snow Conference will be held April 30 - May 3 in Peoria, Illinois. Peoria is a wonderful city that sits on the shores of the Illinois River, just southwest of Chicago. It's a college town with a metropolitan area population of about 350,000. There's a good variety of restaurants and a thriving nightlife in the Downtown and Riverfront areas, located within walking distance of the official conference hotels. Peoria is a great destination for the Snow Conference!

There are some exciting changes at this year's conference—in fact, the whole theme of this year's conference could very well be "Change"!

Each year the Snow Conference offers many different educational sessions with some of the top speakers from across North America. Local area speakers are included as well, and speakers and panelists from the Chicago area will also be sharing their experiences at this year's event. APWA's Snow Conference is the premier conference in North America to gather the latest technology and best practices in winter maintenance operations, and this year will be no exception.

Conference attendees will have the option to "pick a track" this year.

One of the big changes for this year's conference is that attendees will have a new track they can follow. A track is a coordinated series of educational sessions held over the entire conference. The new "Change Track" is all about changes in the way we do snow removal and the barriers to change that organizations often experience. Attendees will have the option to follow the track from start to finish or pick and choose individual sessions as they desire. Following the track will take the attendee through a wealth of information about where we began, where we are today and where we are headed. From chemicals to liquids to new alternatives, from plowing to pre-wetting to anti-icing, and from training to computers to equipment that can virtually do things we once only dreamed of, come and experience how our industry has changed throughout the years. Take with you the reasoning behind these new practices, and implement new programs or procedures in your agencies.

 

Heavy equipment will be displayed at this year's Snow Conference, like this Caterpillar loader equipped with a wing.

Another big change at this year's Snow Conference is the inclusion of heavy equipment and motorized vehicles on the exhibit floor. That's right... there will be tires to kick on this year's show floor! Attendees and exhibitors have requested heavy equipment on the floor for several years now, and APWA is ready to give it a trial run in Peoria. Each year, the Snow Conference attracts more than 100 exhibiting companies, and now they can bring the big equipment to display. The Snow Conference show floor just keeps getting better.

So make your plans now to attend this year's North American Snow Conference and be part of the change.

R. Mark DeVries can be reached at (815) 334-4975 or rmdevries@co.mchenry.il.us.