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Posted on May 14, 2021 at 1:02 PM by Bryan Obenchain
Public Works is by far the largest department at the City of Minot, encompassing a wide swath of everyday life in our community; many of the services provided by Public Works are often taken for granted, as they have simply become engrained in our daily routines.
But we need to recognize the efforts of these skilled professionals. The week of May 16-22 is National Public Works Week, the 61st annual recognition of the work done by public works employees in the United States and Canada. The City of Minot employees under the Public Works umbrella perfectly represent the theme of “Stronger Together.”
You may see Public Works Director Dan Jonasson and Assistant Public Works Director Jason Sorenson in the news a lot, answering questions, speaking for the department, or discussing flood control efforts, the Northwest Area Water Supply project, or recycling. As administrators, that’s part of their job. But they represent hundreds of employees who are also your friends, neighbors, or family members and are the backbone of the largest department at the City of Minot.
How does the Public Works Department impact the lives of Minot’s residents on a typical day?
You wake up and take a shower. Water treated and provided by Public Works.
You flush the toilet. Sanitary sewer system provided and maintained by Public Works.
You place your garbage cart near the street to be emptied. Sanitation collection and disposal provided by Public Works.
You drive to work on the streets of Minot. Street maintenance provided by Public Works.
You take the City bus to or from work or school. Bus service provided and vehicles maintained by Public Works.
Those Minot Police Department vehicles patrolling our community? Custom-outfitted and maintained by Public Works.
You visit City Hall or any other City owned facility. Buildings operated and maintained by Public Works.
You take part in a graveside service of a friend. Rosehill Cemetery operated and maintained by Public Works.
The responsibilities of employees in Public Works are as varied as the employees themselves.
Mark Paddock, Justin Seifert and the rest of their crew work 24 hours a day every day to ensure the water treatment plant is operating efficiently to provide clean water for not only Minot residents, but for many other communities through the NAWS system and for rural water systems throughout the area. The Minot plant, which is in the final stages of a much-needed expansion, treats more than 2.5 billion gallons of water a year.
You’re not likely to ever see Kari Hoyt or Julia Vorgitch fixing a pothole or driving a City bus, but they are vital to the Public Works’ Department’s day-to-day operation. The department runs smoothly because of the efforts of Kari, Julia and the entire administrative staff, who field calls from the public and answer other inquiries while keeping all the department’s employees on schedule and on task. Employees like Project Engineer Ben Cofell work on designing, inspecting, and overseeing the City’s various water, sewer, and storm sewer projects.
If you’ve been to Rosehill Cemetery, you’ve seen the work of Rod Roteliuk’s staff members, like James Seifert, Cole Zietz, and Eileen Bean. The employees there are in charge of maintaining the cemetery, as well as preparing for funerals.
Josh Kraft’s sanitation crews, including
foreman Ray Neuhalfen and drivers like Shawn Danielson and Chris Simonson, pick
up your trash twice a week and deposit it at the City Landfill, where Allen
Shefstad, Lorne Hammer, and all the landfill workers make sure the trash is
disposed of safely and properly. And let’s not forget the department’s role in the
City’s two clean up weeks, when they go street-by-street and pick up piles of
stuff that’s been in our garages or yards for months. They also run two household
hazardous waste collection and E-waste collection events every year.
Kevin Sickler’s property maintenance employees, including Grant Heizelman and Eric Frazier, are responsible for maintaining the City of Minot’s numerous properties throughout the city, a tall task that includes not only all City owned buildings, but also things like the two downtown parking structures, and emergency warning sirens.
Where do we start with Kevin Braaten’s street crews? From removing snow on more than 1,200 lane miles to sweeping streets to repairing potholes to mowing City property and maintaining and operating flood control features such as closure structures and levee maintenance, employees like Zach Grant and Randy Dosch not only help maintain and repair our streets, they also play a large part in our two clean up weeks by joining sanitation crews in removing piles of unwanted stuff set out by Minot residents.
Ever wonder where storm water goes when it rains? Eventually it ends up in a series of ditches and underground pipe before finally making its way to one of the river or coulee systems in the city. Mark Espe and Michael Schraeder are just two of the people who maintain the City’s manholes, catch basins, storm water pumps, and more than 121.5 miles of pipes.
John Reynolds and his crew members in the water distribution and sewage pumping and treatment department, including employees like Sadie Maly, Brian Randash and many others, know all about dealing with various types of water and, you know, other stuff. They maintain more than 272 miles of sanitary sewer lines, more than 40 sanitary lift stations, 800 acres of lagoons and wetlands, and 322 miles of water distribution lines.
Our City transit buses are the responsibility of Brian Horinka and his staff, including Debbie Sigurdson and Joseph Cutaiar. From setting schedules, creating routes, and driving the buses, the transit staff deals with a wide variety of issues and concerns and provide a transit system that operates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The City utilizes a variety of vehicles every day, from street sweepers to buses to mowers and everything in between, including Police Department vehicles that require the installation of specialized equipment. The vehicle maintenance staff, including Chris Willoughby and Jerry Johnson, is tasked with maintaining more than 750 types of vehicles and machinery, a job that changes by season, but never ends.
The theme for this year’s National Public Works Week could just as easily be describing our own Public Works Department. To all the crews and administrative staff members, we say thank you for your continued dedication to Minot and its residents. Our community is truly a better place to live, work, and play because of the work you do every day.
Sincerely, City Hall.
You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.