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Covid-19 can’t stop public works employees from turning & burning, but it does slow them down

The following is reprinted from the Department of Public Works monthly report.

By Mark Abbott; DPW superintendent

Public works has been operating on a reduced staffing level since the middle of March.

This work plan was created to separate the staff into two teams and would hopefully reduce the chances of the Covid-19 virus infecting the entire staff. This would leave Public Works unable to respond to emergencies and essential tasks that maintain public health and safety. I would say it has been successful as DPW staff has not been off sick, and emergency and essential tasks have been completed in reasonable time frames.

Normal city housekeeping tasks, however, have taken a huge hit with many being done late, partly or not at all. We have only completed 10 percent of our normal street sweeping. Bag and brush pickup has taken much longer than normal. Our spring cemetery cleanup has been compounded by still removing leaves from last fall when we were snowed out before completing leaf pickup there. And mowing also became an issue. The list goes on… We did bring back two of our seasonal men to assist with mowing and grounds tasks. All other seasonal staff and temporary workers are on hold currently.

April brush pickup was completed late due mostly to the huge quantity set out to the road. People were home and worked in their yards a lot. May brush pickup is progressing but has been delayed due to cemetery cleanup before Memorial Day.

I am happy to say my increased contact with residents due to these issues has been surprisingly positive for the most part. I have had many say that they understand and then also said, “Thank you for all that you do.” Perhaps this has been a much-needed wakeup call to appreciate the things and services we used to take for granted. This repeated encouragement has taken a little getting used to… but I am 🙂

Editor’s note

It came out at Tuesday’s city council meeting that DPW, Water, Wastewater and Electric department employees will return to their normal work schedules on June 1, barring unforeseen circumstances.

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