ASK ANN

"As part of our hiring process, we submit our applicants to a test of their knowledge. A shortlist of candidates to interview is then developed based on the test results. Several of our tests are getting to be out of date. Does anyone have tests with the answers that they could share with me or direct me to a source where they can be obtained at a reasonable cost? The positions that we have include: mechanic, water and sewer maintenance worker, streets and drainage maintenance worker, equipment operator and facility maintenance." Jerry Bartoszek, Norton Shores, MI

We'll ask the question for you, Jerry, to see if any of our members have the information to share. I do know that Gurnee, IL; Placer County, CA; Roseville, CA; and San Mateo County, CA all use written exams for public works employees. You might want to pose your question to your chapter members, also. That being said, if your agency is using written exams and you'd be willing to discuss questions or access to a source for questions with Jerry, you can contact him at jbartoszek@nortonshores.org.

"With the increased demand for water in our area, we need to find ways to encourage our residents to stop watering their lawns. Any suggestions?"

That sounds like a great question for our readers. If your agency is offering a program or rebate, or have instituted an effective enforcement program, please let me know so I can share your ideas with others. I do know that the City of Mesa, AZ is offering a Grass-to-Xeriscape Landscape Rebate which provides residents who replace grass with low-water-using plants with a $500 rebate when they convert from grass. Converting to low-water-using landscape is a good way to conserve water and energy, save money on water bills, and create a landscape that is much easier to maintain. Their studies have shown that a xeriscape landscape can use 50 to 60 percent less water than turf-style landscapes in their climate. While this method wouldn't work for those of us in colder climates, it's good to know there are methods being used. For more information on the Mesa program, check their website at www.cityofmesa.org/utilities/conservation or call 480-644-3306.

"We are seeing more cell phones in our solid waste collections. Isn't there some way to recycle these things?"

Hello! Yes, there is. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has teamed up with the nation's leading cell phone makers, service providers, and retailers to answer the call for easy cell phone recycling. The new campaign is called Plug-In to eCycling and partners include AT&T Wireless, Best Buy, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Office Depot, Samsung, Sony Ericcson, Sprint, Staples, and T-Mobile. EPA released a series of print public service announcements "Recycle Your Cell Phone. It's An Easy Call," which highlight the convenience and environmental and social benefits of recycling a cell phone. EPA started the campaign because many consumers still do not know where or how they can recycle their unwanted cell phones. Consequently, less than 20 percent of unwanted cell phones are recycled each year. Consumers can drop off cell phones at one of the stores above or send it through the mail. You might want to put something in your community newsletter or on your website about the program. The statistics are pretty amazing: An estimated 100 to 130 million cell phones are no longer being used, many just sitting in storage. If Americans recycled 100 million phones, enough upstream energy could be saved to power more than 194,000 households for a year! For more information check out: www.epa.gov/cellphone/.

"I don't get it. I tried to apply to take the new Certified Public Infrastructure Inspector exam in April and was told the application deadline was December 31st and no exceptions can be made. Don't you want people to participate in the certification program?"

Sure we do. However, we also want people to know there are very stringent requirements for administering certification programs and adhering to the application deadline is one of them. APWA has chosen to develop our certification programs following national standards for certification programs to be certain our programs are of the highest caliber and meet those standards when the time comes to have the program itself be accredited. Making an exception for one person or agency opens the door to every other request for an exception and the program loses credibility. The application deadline is also in place for the applicant's benefit. It allows them ample time for their qualifications to be reviewed and an eligibility determination made which allows them to participate in the exams. Once the eligibility has been determined, the applicant has up to two years to take the exam before it expires. Completing the application is only the first step. For all the details check out our Certification pages at www.apwa.net/Certification. Check it on a regular basis to see what programs are being offered, application deadlines, exam locations, and dates. Our programs are growing and we definitely want everyone to be familiar with the details.

I received an interesting follow-up to one of my recent questions about how agencies are dealing with the goose population in their areas. David Nash, Environmental Program Coordinator, Chatham County, GA sent the following update: "We went to the Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Division for help. They are federally sanctioned to remove the Canada Geese. We had the Sheriff's Department block off the park for one early morning. The federal agents removed the geese and relocated them over 150 miles away so they wouldn't return. If anyone asked why, we had the Health Department make an official statement that the bird feces had a great potential to transmit potentially life-threatening diseases to the young and elderly population who enjoy utilizing the park. We removed over 400 geese without a single peep from the citizens. Just one more solution to a dangerous problem." So, you might want to contact the Department of Agriculture at www.usda.gov for further information or David Nash at DANash@chathamcounty.org.

Ask Ann...

Please address all inquiries to:

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd., Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625

Fax questions to: (816) 472-1610
E-mail:
adaniels@apwa.net