Snow savvy? We have it covered!

William A. Verkest, P.E.
APWA President

  William A. Verkest, P.E.

As APWA President, I have the opportunity to visit many parts of North America when meeting with various chapters or attending different meetings and events. One thing I can say with certainty is that weather conditions vary tremendously as I travel from place to place.

Weather affects public works operations year-round regardless of where you reside. We gear our agencies to contend with weather and the havoc it can bring to the areas we serve. This is especially true during our winter months when traveling can become difficult, if not impossible, due to winter storms. It is a challenge that affects many public works agencies each year and it is often one of the most visible parts of our operations. One event, with a negative outcome, can affect the perception of an agency, its administration and, on occasion, the outcome of a mayoral election or two.

A number of major winter storms have made headlines this season. Record snow falls, power outages, high winds, snow-packed roadways and ice have tested many agencies' operations already and impacted transportation and the economy in these areas.

Will your agency be ready when the next major storm hits? Wouldn't it be a valuable tool to know how other agencies dealt with major winter weather events and hear of their accomplishments and their shortcomings? In April, you will have that opportunity. Again this year we are bringing experts from across North America together to share with you.

The place to become "snow savvy" is at this year's APWA North American Snow Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, April 22-25, 2007. This conference is a "must" if your agency is affected by winter weather.

Year after year this conference grows in size and popularity. It draws agencies from across North America, as well as other parts of the world. It is the premier event in snow and ice management, and offers numerous educational opportunities. Our conference this year is no exception and our focus is "Snowfighting throughout North America and beyond." Speakers and other experts will be from several regions—Canada, the East Coast, the Mountain West, the Pacific Northwest, and the Midwest—as well as the United Kingdom. Presenters will share their expertise and experiences and you will have the opportunity to learn about current best practices, new innovative methods, advances in equipment and snowfighting technology, and how snow removal methods differ.

The host state of Minnesota will be well represented and they are innovators in snow removal methods and snowplow operator training. The Land of 10,000 Lakes is one of North America's prime destinations for recreation activities year-round. Protecting those resources is vital to Minnesotans and their economy. Experts will share how the state, as well as local and the private-sector agencies, are working together to provide a safe transportation system, under the most trying of circumstances.

The venue is in beautiful downtown St. Paul at the RiverCentre. This beautiful facility, which overlooks the Mississippi River, offers more than 64,000 square feet of exhibit space and will be filled with vendors serving the needs of the public works industry. Our APWA staff working with the Minnesota Chapter and Winter Maintenance Subcommittee has a premier show lined up for you. Besides the numerous educational opportunities, there will be fantastic opening and closing speakers, roundtable discussions, technical tours, social events and, once again, heavy equipment on display.

I find in my experiences that networking is the key to exchanging information, formulating new ideas and building relationships. The friends you will make, the contacts you will take with you from St. Paul and the education you will receive will be invaluable to you and your agency in the coming years. I look forward to seeing you at this year's show.