During National Public Works week last month, following the hashtag #NPWW on Twitter triggered a flood of well wishes, accolades, appreciation and a surprising number of photos. The stream depicted hundreds of community events held to showcase the work of snowplow drivers, street sweepers, pothole patchers, water and sewer technicians, engineers and everyone else whose job description make possible the Cornerstone components of American vitality: work, transportation, education and recreation. It was a fitting and uplifting tribute.
Also during the week of May 17–21, and just in time for this public works-focused issue of The Municipal magazine, the American Public Works Association bestowed well-deserved recognition on 10 professionals in the field who serve in exemplary ways.
The organization named its 2015 Top Ten Public Works Leaders, chosen from among 550 men and women who reflect the highest standards of professional conduct for public works officials. The honorees were recognized for discharging critical responsibilities in connection to the design, construction, maintenance and/or operation of major public works projects or activities in large and small municipalities. Congratulations to all the deserving winners.
The 2015 Top Ten Public Works Leaders are:
- Jeb Blackwell: City Engineer, Charlotte, N.C.
- Stan Brown: Director of Municipal Services, Oakwood, Ga.
- Tom Collins: Deputy Director of Public Works, Natick, Mass.
- Darwin Durnie: Director of Business Development, Stantec Consulting, Alberta, ON., Canada
- Greg McCaffery: Director of Municipal Services, Junction City, Kan.
- Natalie Meeks: Public Works Director, Anaheim, Calif.
- Dennis Randolph: Director of Public Works, Grandview, Mo.
- Greg Reeder: Public Works Director, Council Bluffs, Iowa
- Paul Smeltzer: Director of Water and Wastewater, Niagara Region, ON., Canada
- John Trujillo: Public Works Director, Phoenix, Ariz.
The scope of today’s public works professionals is larger than in previous generations. On top of that, regulatory pressures continue to increase and, in many cases, relative financing has decreased. So while the doom and gloom reports of deteriorated infrastructure are understandable concerns, the situation hasn’t come about because of a lack of effort or innovation on the part of public works professionals. These awards prove it, as do the job orders we see being filled day in and day out in all of our cities.
Public workers earned their week in the spotlight. If by chance you didn’t take the opportunity to participate, maybe with a shout-out on Twitter, a community open house or mayoral proclamation, write down the date of National Public Works Week 2016. It will be observed May 15–21.
A very happy Independence Day to all public works professionals and to everyone who serves this great nation’s cities and towns in elected, appointed or employment capacities. Enjoy the holiday.