May 19-25, 2019 is public works week.
In Elk Point, a barbeque and open house at the town’s public works shop on May 21 welcomed residents who wanted to know what the department does.
Superintendent of Public Works / Utilities, Jay Duffee provided a tour of the Elk Point Maintenance Shop, demonstrating that “It’s a job where there’s lots going on behind the scenes.”
To keep life in Elk Point flowing smoothly, seven full time employees look after parks and the transfer site; run the pumphouses, test water, provide bulk water services, and repair waterlines; clean and repair roads and streets; and mow public areas and ditches.
The Elk Point Public Works department owns almost all of its own heavy equipment. Backhoes, pressure vacs, street sweepers, mowers, diggers, and more are on-site and can be accessed whenever the need arises. A Bobcat, with all its accessories – brooms, blades, auger attachment, bucket – gives versatility if other equipment is not operating. Owning all the equipment saves money in the long run. “Nobody works cheaper than us,” Duffee acknowledged.
A tractor and mowing attachments saves “like 75%.” Mowing is done in parks and ditches, north of the trailer court, along the highway in town, and at the airport. Summer students can now focus on watering flower baskets and maintaining the parks instead of whipping ditches.
Having the Hotsy unit was invaluable in February. When the frost was down about 9 feet some pipes froze that had never before frozen. Public Works employees were able to set up the Hotsy, hose hot water down the lines, and get the water running again. “We do jobs that nobody else wants to do, in weather that nobody else wants to be out in,” commented Duffee.
Building strong relationships
Relationships with Public Works departments in the Town of St. Paul and the Co. of St. Paul are very good. Equipment is shared or sold on reciprocal agreements. The Co. of St. Paul helps with the transfer station and the airport while the two towns work together on the Regional Water Commission. Elk Point maintains 17 km of waterline and a lift station at the St. Paul Water Treatment Plant.
National Public Works Week
May 19-25 has been designated as Public Works Week. The American Public Works Association tells citizens that “Infrastructure starts with public works… Growth and innovation starts with public works… Mobility starts with public works… Security starts with public works… Healthy communities start with public works… The bottom line is that citizens’ quality of life starts with public works.”