On Wednesday, January 12th, APWA’s Winter Maintenance Sub-committee Chair Mark Devries was featured in the NPR “On Point” national news program as a public works expert on winter weather emergencies, and how public works helps communities handle them. Also featured were Dr. Heidi Cullen, climate expert for the Weather Channel (and former research scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research), along with APWA members Mike Kennedy, Director of Winter Operations for the Minneapolis Department of Public Works, and Wanda Booker, who is sanitation services manager for the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The show’s commentator, Tom Ashbrook, cited the recent extreme precipitation conditions that have hit North America, and Devries, Director/Superintendent of Public Works for the McHenry County Division of Transportation in Illinois, and a 2010 APWA Top Ten Public Works Leader, addressed issues that public works departments deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Devries and the other featured guests brought up the many challenges for communities’ public works that occur in handling weather emergencies and large snow precipitation events. Devries also stressed that municipalities have to work to anticipate, and be prepared for, the various winter events that can occur. He went over the various methods that need to be considered for winter weather emergencies, from snow-removal to chemicals needed for pre-treating, and the possibilities of getting back to “bare pavement.” Other issues discussed were budget and staff cut-backs with service expectations, civilian help with snow containment, and the data needed to adjust to and prepare for extreme weather situations.
Check local listings of the show with your local/regional NPR station. To listen to the original show, go to the NPR’s website for the On Point show on January 12th called: Snow Removal Strategy & the Flurry of Winter Weather. You can access it directly when posted to the NPR website at: http://www.onpointradio.org/2011/01/snow-removal.