National Public Works Week: California style!

This month brings National Public Works Week, May 20-26. This is a week to talk to your customers and citizens about what you do. Just as significant, it is an opportunity to step back and say "thank you" to your employees and make them feel good about what they do in public works.

With that in mind, check out our special section on how some agencies in the Golden State celebrated National Public Works Week last year and what they'll be doing in just a few weeks. We hope you're suitably inspired and excited after reading about their experiences. Come on and celebrate—it's your week to shine!

A Street Maintenance Worker helps kids get on and off a backhoe, explaining about safety and what the various pieces of equipment on display are used for, and how they are maintained. The favorite part of this "hands-on" learning for these fourth graders is honking the horns. They are in awe of all the large equipment and the noise it generates.

National Public Works Week in Vacaville: Teaching a new generation
The Public Works Department has been chairing public outreach events during National Public Works Week (NPWW) for the past 12 years with tremendous success. During this week of celebration, staff participate at the high schools for career development day and visit local elementary schools educating the students about the services Public Works provides to the community. The most popular event during this week are the tours for fourth-grade students conducted at the City of Vacaville's Corporation Yard and the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant. Staff also give a presentation to Council on the history and importance of NPWW, the planned activities, and receive a Council proclamation recognizing this nationwide APWA event.

Over the years, more than 5,400 students have toured these facilities, utilizing over 50 public works volunteers per year, receiving over 4,000 thank-you letters from the students, and had more than 300 surveys returned from teachers with a continued 99.8% rating of "excellent." This annual event at the two facilities serves 14-16 classes from all eight elementary schools, with between 450-500 students during NPWW. All visiting students receive gift bags filled with public works trinkets, including a plastic yellow hard hat and educational materials at the end of their tours. Public Works topics at the Corporation Yard include: welcome students, discuss safety and serve snacks; heavy equipment demonstration where the students get to sit in the driver's seat of the equipment and have their photo taken, usually while honking the air horn; electric car demonstration; tour of the Central Garage explaining vehicle maintenance including police/fire and city buses; a hands-on recycling demonstration; and a tour of the City's Water Treatment Plant. The tour of the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant includes: welcome, discuss safety and serve snacks; plant tour; pollution prevention and water conservation presentations; visual observations of microorganism and experiments demonstrated by Lab personnel; tour of the sludge press explaining how the bio-solids are processed and recycled by sending to the landfill and used as daily cover.

Public Works personnel are using this week to help make a difference in our community through education of future community leaders and the awareness as to what really is public works. In Vacaville, this is done with not only great success, but by people who truly care about the quality of life in Vacaville and want to teach a new generation.

Submitted by Dale Pfeiffer, Director of Public Works, City of Vacaville

  Students participate in a mock legend painting demonstration.

NPWW in Fairfield
In celebration of National Public Works Week, May 20-26, in the City of Fairfield, the Public Works Department will host their fourth-annual community-wide open house. Approximately 90 fourth graders from E. Ruth Sheldon Elementary school will be attending. We display various educational booths regarding conserving water, traffic safety, traffic signal light demonstrations and a "hands-on" course on both recycling and Stormwater Pollution Prevention. The students will have the opportunity to view equipment used by the Public Works staff to perform their daily maintenance activities. We >offer the students a hot dog lunch and give them goodie bags filled with educational leaflets, stickers and pencils. Last year we received positive reviews from the teachers and students. Staff all had a great time participating in the event.

Submitted by Tom Borman, Operations Superintendent, City of Fairfield

Events planned in Daly City
Daly City has a number of events planned:

  1. We schedule one day for visits to local elementary schools. Our Street Division, along with the Department of Water and Waste Water Resources, provide a small team that visits the school. The team meets with students in the school yard, talks about public works activities, the benefits of street sweeping, the activities of water district personnel, and has a show-and-tell with equipment.

  2. The City Council in each of the past four years has passed a resolution recognizing National Public Works Week, and honoring the Public Works Employee of the Year. That employee and her or his family are then honored at a reception in the City Hall.

  3. The entire Public Works Department gathers together over the lunch hour. As part of the festivities, there are competitive events among teams from the various divisions.

  4. This year, for the first time, we intend to have an activity that promotes biking and walking to school. Details are under consideration and we are working with the school district.

Submitted by Peter Gleichenhaus, Director of Public Works, City of Daly City

  Asphalt crew manning the snow cone and popcorn booth

Public Works Day - 2006
The City of Victorville honored its dedicated public works professionals for the outstanding work they do by hosting a fun-filled, Fifth Annual Public Works Day event. Employees proudly wore matching T-shirts with the 2006 theme, "The Heart of Every Community," as they shared with residents what they do in their jobs every day to enhance the community. Besides the added attractions of bounce houses, pony rides, raffle prizes and free barbecue fare, residents—young and old alike—were fascinated to learn about the large displays of equipment and vehicles and how they are used in the daily maintenance operations of the city. Children especially enjoyed the many hands-on activities, including climbing into the backhoe for a shot at using the control levers to maneuver colorful balls into a bucket. By the end of the day, everyone was pleased to learn about what public works does for the community—while having fun at the same time!

Submitted by Brian Schneider, Management Analyst, City of Victorville

Santa Rosa celebrates NPWW
The City of Santa Rosa's First Annual Public Works Week was held on May 25, 2006. We had over 100 employees come out for a huge BBQ as well as a chili cook-off. Jane Bender, the Mayor of Santa Rosa at that time, served as one of our judges.

There was also a chance to show off your skills in the obstacle course, which included many of the items that we use to do our jobs every day. There were even prizes as well as great raffle items!! The best part was, everyone got to come out and enjoy their coworkers, celebrating the fact that what our department does makes such a difference in our community.

Submitted by Shirlee Stiles, Civil Engineer Technician, Public Works - Traffic Division, City of Santa Rosa

The "new look" of the Public Works Week Planning Committee

Burbank staff's new look
The Los Angeles area is emerging as an exciting new hub of fashion with the creative forces of Hollywood, beach culture, and multi-ethnic neighborhoods influencing worldwide clothing trends. Inspired by this, the staff of Burbank's Public Works Week Planning Committee created a new look for the folks who pull together our annual celebratory picnic: custom-made, OSHA orange aprons imprinted by our in-house sign shop (the color, City logo, and American flag match our field crew's uniform shirts). We wear them with pride!

Submitted by Bonnie Teaford, P.E., Public Works Director, City of Burbank

City of Antioch's Open House
The following announcement ran in the local newspaper: This year National Public Works Week will be from May 20 to May 26. The event is sponsored by the American Public Works Association and is dedicated to the men and women across our country who provide and maintain the infrastructure in our communities.

You are invited to join the City of Antioch Public Works employees on Wednesday, May 23, 2007, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to learn more about Public Works activities, and enjoy an afternoon of equipment displays, information, and guided tours of the Maintenance facility. On hand will be Public Works representatives from Parks, Water Treatment, Water Distribution, Wastewater Collection Systems, Streets, Geographic Information Systems digital mapping (GIS), and the Marina.

Come and join us for a barbecue lunch. The Maintenance Service Center is located at 1201 West Fourth Street, across from the Police Department. If you have any questions about the event or our services, call 779-6950.

Submitted by Michelle Walker, Secretary, City of Antioch

  The 2006 Public Works Equipment Show at Zeyen Elementary

Equipment Show in Garden Grove
In recognition of National Public Works Week, the City of Garden Grove organizes the Annual Equipment Show at a local elementary school. The Equipment Show promotes awareness of the many Public Works projects and environmental programs. Staff showcases over 10 different types of heavy-duty equipment, such as the aerial lift, backhoe, and water-truck. Over 400 students and teachers are given educational materials and listen to presentations on our Used Oil Recycling Program, Household Hazardous Waste, proper sorting of trash, recyclables and yard waste, and sewer blockage prevention.

Submitted by Ann Cao, Senior Administrative Analyst, City of Garden Grove

City of Pittsburg NPWW Celebration
The City of Pittsburg celebrated National Public Works Week on May 25, 2006 with an Open House/Appreciation Day, and the City Council recognized this celebration with a Proclamation. The celebration was in City Park with a big push to share the year's theme, "Public Works: The Heart of Every Community!" The theme was shared on all outreach materials including special heart stickers with the theme which was placed on all attendees and staff. In addition, APWA "I Love Public Works" bumper stickers were purchased and placed on all Public Works vehicles.

At City Park, each Division of the Public Works Department created displays with facts, equipment, and demonstrations about their Division's responsibility within the community. A few examples of what the community was able to learn: how water distribution and treatment work; how a sewer line is checked and cleaned; how traffic signals operate; and what constitutes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) with a booth display of lady bugs, mosquito fish and preying mantis. There was a barbecue along with handouts, coloring books and crayons, stickers, popcorn, recycled pencils, and mini orange cones. In addition, the two department mascots, Mr. Cone Man and Water Drop, made appearances.

  Water break demonstration

Approximately 450 students, teachers and parents from Pittsburg Unified School District as well as members of the community, City staff and City Council came to the Public Works Open House/Appreciation Day. The twenty classrooms visited each station listening and asking questions about the work staff did within the community. The students, teachers, parents and residents were impressed with the displays and all the work performed by Public Works. The Water Treatment Plant held an essay contest, "My Life as a Drop of Water," and the winner was announced at the Open House. All participants received certificates.

The highlight of the day was two special demonstrations. The first was a demonstration by the water crew on how a water line is repaired. The display demonstrated actual water spraying out of the break! After the demonstration was a backhoe competition. Two backhoes competed placing three tires over a pole, placing a fire hydrant in a fifty-five-gallon drum and then moving a piece of pipe from one spot to another. The kids were encouraged to root for their team: Brian as Jed Clampett or Mike the Destroyer. Everyone was very impressed with the skill level required to operate a backhoe. In addition, there was a tree climbing demonstration. Two members of the tree crew climbed up palm trees and demonstrated their skill level with their safety lines and gear and how they propel from tree to tree. The tree crew members also performed an emergency rescue demonstration. The crowd held its breath watching.

It was an amazing day! All Public Works staff did a wonderful job creating their exhibits and demonstrations as well as sharing about their role within the community!

Submitted by Laura Wright, Administrative Analyst III, City of Pittsburg

Thousand Oaks celebrates NPWW
Tons of fun typifies the three days when the City of Thousand Oaks celebrates National Public Works Week each May. We prune our bushes, fertilize our roses, clean every piece of equipment, make directional and parking signs, gather stickers and coloring books for the children to take, blow up balloons, and plan, plan, plan to make ready for a good time.

Just imagine wide-open spaces, blue skies, colorful balloons and flags, and lots of happy children learning about many aspects of city maintenance. We have mockups of a storm drain, the vacuuming of a sanitary sewer, and a working traffic signal. We treat children to a drive through our car wash in a bus; let them handle thousands of live ladybugs; and watch a video of a rat running through a sanitary sewer. Our crews are happy to show how an asphalt roller can flatten a soda can or a how a street sweeper can suck up a bowling ball. Tour groups are given a digital photo taken from the aerial lift to take back to school. We even have our own pirate to direct the tours along the stations; only in California!

Submitted by Jessica Craven, Analyst, and Lorita Lange, Administrative Secretary, City of Thousand Oaks

  The Water Division trivia wheel

NPWW in the City of Orange
The City of Orange, California celebrates National Public Works Week with an annual luncheon for all Public Works employees. We have established a tradition of inviting all former Public Works Directors. At the 2006 luncheon we were joined by John Fonley, who was Public Works Director during the 1970s and who served the City for more than 35 years. In 2006, Gail Farber, Public Works Director/City Engineer, initiated an Employee Recognition Program to recognize and appreciate Public Works employees for excellent service to the public, the Department, the City and their communities. The program includes Employee of the Quarter, Innovation and Humanitarian Awards, and the Employee of the Year, who is selected from the four Employees of the Quarter. The annual program culminates in the announcement of the Employee of the Year at the annual luncheon during National Public Works Week.

In addition, the Department participates in the annual C.O.P.S. (Community Organizations and Public Services) Expo, which provides an opportunity to conduct public education and outreach related to Public Works activities to over 10,000 visitors. The Department's presentation includes equipment displays, giveaways and a trivia contest.

Submitted by Lisa Mattert, Administrative Analyst, City of Orange

Fresno's two-pronged celebration of National Public Works Week
Located in the geographic center of California, the City of Fresno is going all-out in its celebration of National Public Works Week. With a population exceeding 450,000, Fresno is California's sixth-largest city and fast approaching fifth-largest status. Therefore, leading-edge service excellence is required by its citizens to keep pace with the ever-escalating demands of a vibrant community. This year's National Public Works Week celebration will focus on informing residents of Fresno of the City's diverse activities to serve the community's needs and to honor and recognize the dedicated City staff who help move life forward every day.

The City of Fresno's Public Works, General Services, and Public Utilities Departments partner to celebrate this nationwide recognition of the important role public works plays in communities everywhere. Mayor Alan Autry and the Fresno City Council will proclaim the week of May 20-26, 2007 as "National Public Works Week" in the City of Fresno, California. The Fresno City Council has expressed appreciation and commended staff for their significant contributions to Fresno's environment and infrastructure. A call goes out to all citizens and civic organizations in Fresno to recognize the contributions of the Public Works, General Services and Public Utilities Departments in promoting the health, safety, comfort, and quality of life in our community.

  City of Fresno I-21 Clean Air Gasoline/Electric Hybrid Bus

The Public Works, General Services and Public Utilities Directors host a public outreach event on the grounds in front of City Hall. Personnel representing various departments and vital public works agencies and vendors will staff thirty different booths in order to illustrate displays, disseminate information, and showcase contributions as well as their program's mission. The street in front of City Hall is closed to through-traffic in order to accommodate a huge showcase of diverse City vehicles, equipment and vendor displays. The City's "Clean Air" fleet of natural gas/hybrid vehicles is represented along with refuse trucks, tractors, and specialty equipment such as the Sewer Maintenance camera truck. We look forward to the National Public Works Week celebration at City Hall to be well-attended by Fresno citizens, City staff, school groups and local media.

The second leg of Fresno's two-pronged National Public Works Week celebration focuses on staff recognition and appreciation. On Wednesday, May 23, 2007, the three departments (Public Works, General Services, Public Utilities) will again partner to further celebrate the week by providing a BBQ to honor staff for their delivery of outstanding public works service each and every day to the citizens of Fresno. The staff celebration will be held at the City's Municipal Service Center with over 800 staff in attendance. Supervisors and management of the three departments will serve BBQ tri-tip with all the fixings to an appreciative team of dedicated employees.

City of Fresno electronic equipment used by the Traffic Signal Operations Center

The City Manager, Council members and Directors from each of the three participating Departments express personal appreciation to their committed staff and the critical work they perform each day to enable the City to move forward and function as the culture of excellence Fresno citizens deserve and have come to expect. Tickets are distributed to employees for raffle prizes provided by appreciative local vendors. The staff enjoy a great time together in celebrating National Public Works Week.

An added benefit of the event is that it brings together staff from three different City of Fresno departments who deliver public works services and provides an opportunity for team building and camaraderie.

Staff team members from the General Services Department provide Fleet Management, Facilities Management, Communications Services, Central Printing and Purchasing services to all City customer departments.

The Public Utilities Department team provides key City services such as Sewer Maintenance, Solid Waste Management, Community Sanitation, Wastewater Management and Water Production & Distribution.

The City of Fresno's Public Works Department team provides Engineering Services, Traffic Operations, Capital Management, Construction Management and Street Maintenance Services. The gathering of over 800 staff members from these three departments to recognize their contribution to the City of Fresno as public works professionals is an exhilarating experience.

Fresno's celebration of National Public Works Week with two separate events and the melding of staff from three different departments who deliver public works services is a highly successful and well-received event.

Submitted by Stella DuBois, Public Works Executive Assistant, City of Fresno

A special thank-you goes to Bob Kass, Public Works Director, City of Campbell, California, for helping to compile the information in our special National Public Works Week section.