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Combined P/E/T Committee Meeting a success

Networking the highlight of February meeting

R. Kevin Clark
Editor, APWA Reporter

Networking...problem solving...goal planning...discussing hot topics...learning about each other. These were just a few of the activities that members of APWA's Professional/ Educational/Technical (P/E/T) Committees participated in during the Combined P/E/T Committee Meeting held February 8-10 in Kansas City, Missouri. The meeting, the second annual event, was held at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center hotel, across the street from APWA headquarters.

The meeting schedule was broken down as follows: On Friday, February 8, members of the Fleet Services, Leadership and Management, One-Call Systems International (OCSI), Solid Waste Management, and Transportation Committees gathered for individual committee meetings for over eight hours. Saturday's schedule consisted of a joint meeting of all ten committees, and included introductory comments from Richard Ridings, APWA President, and Peter King, Executive Director, as well as presentations from various APWA staff. On Sunday, members of the Emergency Management, Engineering & Technology, Facilities & Grounds, Utility & Public Right-of-Way (UPROW), and Water Resources Management Committees met for another series of individual committee meetings.

In addition to having discussions involving their annual work plans, the committees discussed a number of current projects and issues during Friday's individual committee meetings. The Fleet Services Committee identified a number of sessions and educational programs for Congress in 2003, and discussed plans for producing a "Fleet Performance Measures" publication; the OCSI Committee focused on raising the awareness of utilities and excavation contractors in the value of having a one-call system; the Solid Waste Management Committee spent time monitoring an issue involving a potentially dangerous herbicide that has been found in community composting systems; the Transportation Committee discussed the possibility of drafting a policy or position statement on Smart Growth, and forming a task force to develop an overall definition as to how Smart Growth might impact public works; and agenda items for the Leadership and Management Committee included the preparation of a discussion paper that would help define the public works field and the common issues that draw people to become members of APWA, tentatively titled What are we up to together?, along with a discussion of projects for the 2002-03 fiscal year such as seminars, workshops, and surveys.

"The Leadership and Management Committee had such a positive experience during the first Combined P/E/T Meeting held in March 2001 that we were very pleased to see APWA budget for and schedule the meeting again in 2002. The committee efforts are much more productive when meeting face-to-face. The two-day session allowed us time to accomplish a great deal, and the time together provided the committee with a wonderful team-building experience. Our thanks to the Board and the staff for all their support." — Steve Magnusen, Director of Public Works, Village of Libertyville, Illinois, and Chair, Leadership and Management Committee

Saturday roundtables a highlight
All of the committees were on hand for Saturday's joint meeting of the P/E/Ts. Richard Ridings started things off by discussing the importance of providing continued service to our members, the value of the P/E/T Committees, and the importance of volunteer work that our members provide. Peter King spoke about APWA's efforts in contacting the Office of Homeland Security, and how the Association is increasingly trying to get public works identified as a First Responder.

Later in the morning an overview of services of various APWA departments was provided by staff representing those departments. Presentations were conducted by Lee Hawkins, Director of Membership; Dave Dancy, Director of Marketing; Patricia Kutt, Director of Education; Kevin Clark, Editor of the APWA Reporter; Dave Reinke, InfoLink Manager, and Dennis Ross, Director of Professional Development. Jim Fahey, Director of Government Relations, gave a presentation on APWA legislative priorities, and Ron Norris, Director of Public Works, City of Lenexa, Kansas, and Chair of the Government Affairs Committee provided an update of GAC activities and priorities.

The final item on the morning agenda was an open forum discussion concerning maximizing P/E/T Committee effectiveness, which was facilitated by a panel of APWA's Directors-at-Large, including Christine Andersen, Environmental Management; John German, Engineering & Technology; Marshall Elizer, Transportation; Clarence Wright, Fleet & Facilities; and Larry Lux, Management & Leadership. One of the goals of this open forum discussion was to improve the overall process of P/E/T Committee member selection, and to develop a process of continuity. As a result of Saturday's discussions, the Directors-at-Large have developed a recommendation which they will propose to the board.

"The Water Resources Management Committee meeting was highly productive; face-to-face meetings can never be completely replaced by conference calls. Among many important issues, we were able to frame and review policy positions on emerging water-related legislation and EPA rulemaking. These policies and positions will serve our APWA membership well, I believe." — Bill Reichmuth, Public Works Director, City of Monterey, California, and Chair, Water Resources Management Committee

One of the highlights of Saturday afternoon's session came in the form of roundtable discussions on topics of interest to multiple committees. Topics discussed included the use of APWA's website and how to get more members participating in the InfoNOW Communities; how to form a policy or a position statement; and how the P/E/Ts and the chapters can work more effectively in getting information to the general membership.

Sunday, the finale of the three-day combined meeting, involved another full day of committee meetings. The Emergency Management Committee, which is currently developing a white paper describing the role of public works in emergency management, had a discussion on homeland security and emergency management; the agenda items for the Engineering & Technology Committee included the use of technology for e-government, the development of a survey on the information technology capability of APWA members, electronic enterprise management software programs, and support for increased expenditure on math and science; the Facilities & Grounds Committee is working on a facility manager workshop, a publication entitled A Public Works Yard, and a Click, Listen & Learn on facilities security (a joint project with the Emergency Management Committee); the UPROW Committee concentrated on raising awareness about the management of public rights-of-way and its importance in public policy; and the Water Resources Management Committee dealt with new regulatory issues that will be impacting communities, new Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) regulations, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDLs), and the training sessions and booklets that will be needed to distribute this information.

"This was a great opportunity for the P/E/T Committees to get together. First, it allowed our individual committee the time to work together in person on issues that we can't adequately address during teleconferences or in the short time we had together as a committee at Congress. Just as importantly, it gave all the P/E/T Committee members a chance to interact as a group on Saturday and help develop a better understanding of what our colleagues on other committees are doing. We also got the chance to be challenged by our leaders and to challenge them as well, as we all constantly strive to make APWA better. Finally, the social interaction during the meals and breaks helped us develop new contacts and renew other networking opportunities. The APWA staff did an excellent job organizing the weekend. Thanks!" — Larry Frevert, P.E., Deputy Director of Public Works, City of Kansas City, Missouri, and Chair, Engineering & Technology Committee

Among the many positives that came out of the Combined P/E/T Committee Meeting are a number of tangible benefits that the entire membership will realize, including new publications and Click, Listen & Learn sessions. The group spent much time identifying emerging issues within their individual industries with the objective of bringing that information to the membership. These benefits are a logical result from the meeting, as improved service to our members was a recurring theme throughout each session.

For detailed information on the P/E/T Committees, call the Professional Development Department at APWA headquarters at (816) 472-6100, or go to the P/E/T Committee web page at www.apwa.net/About/PET/.