Posts tagged “public works

Public works enhances our community’s quality of life

By Wally Urrutia, Sanitation Superintendent

Most of us take for granted that our trash will be picked up on time, our drinking water will be clean, and our public facilities will be adequately maintained. But College Station’s public works infrastructure, facilities, and services wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated professionals of the Public Works Department.

Efficient and professional public works programs manage our water, sewer, streets, traffic operations, stormwater drainage, fleet maintenance, public building maintenance, recycling and solid waste collection. These services are vital to the safety, health and high quality of life we enjoy in our growing community.

This week marks the 58th annual National Public Works Week, which celebrates the thousands of men and women across the United States and Canada who provide and maintain the infrastructure and services known as public works. This year’s theme is “The Power of Public Works,” which celebrates the impact public works has on modern civilization.

National Accreditation

Did you know that College Station is the only city of our size (80,000-150,000 population) in Texas to be nationally accredited in both Public Works and Water Services? Administered by the American Public Works Association (APWA), the accreditation program recognizes agencies that go beyond the requirements of established industry practices.

The College Station Public Works Department consists of eight divisions — Capital Projects, Facility Maintenance, Streets Maintenance, Drainage Maintenance, Traffic Operations, Sanitation, Fleet Services and Administration. Our 124 employees deliver sanitation services and plan, build and maintain the infrastructure that allows our community to grow and prosper.

About Public Works Week

Since 1960, the APWA has sponsored National Public Works Week as a way for its 28,000 members to educate the public on the importance of public works in their daily lives. The occasion is marked each year with scores of resolutions and proclamations from mayors, governors, and presidents.

As we observe National Public Works Week, we honor and thank the employees of our Public Works and Water Services departments for their professionalism, hard work and the high level of dedicated service they provide to our community every day.

Mayor Karl Mooney proclaimed this Public Works Week in College Station at the May 14 city council meeting:

(L-R) Mark Mcauliffe, Troy Rother, Raquel Gonzales, Susan Monnat, Mayor Karl Mooney, Donald Harmon, Martin Mcgehee, Jason Best.

Read the Proclamation

 


About the Blogger

Sanitation Superintendent Wally Urrutia is in his 31st year with the City of College Station. He was named Solid Waste Manager of the Year in 2016 by the Texas Public Works Association.


 

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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (May 23)

This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, May 23. It’s not the official minutes.

Both meetings are being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and can also be watched online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:04 p.m.

The workshop has started.

6:07 p.m.

National Public Works Week

The council recognized this as National Public Works Week, which highlights how public works contributes to a community’s quality of life.  Here’s the video the council watched about the activities of the City of College Station’s Public Works Department:

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Five things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

gavel[1]Here are five items to watch when the College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings:   (more…)


Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (April 25)

This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, April 25. It’s not the official minutes.

Both meetings are being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and can also be watched online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:01 p.m.

The workshop has started. Mayor Nancy Berry and Councilmember James Benham are absent tonight.

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Live Blog: Thursday’s City Council Meetings (March 28)

This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, March 28. It’s not the official minutes.

Both meetings are being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and can also be watched online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:07 p.m.

The workshop has started.

6:08 p.m.

Simpson named city manager

Frank SimpsonThe council unanimously voted to select Frank Simpson as city manager. Simpson was named interim city manager in January when David Neeley retired. He had served as deputy city manager since 2011, overseeing  Public Works, Water Services, and the Electric Utility. Simpson came to the City of College Station after serving as city manager of Missouri City for seven years (2004-11). He previously served as city manager of Webster (2001-04) and Center (1995-01), and was an assistant city manager in La Marque (1994-95).

Simpson began his long municipal government career as a public utilities worker for the City of College Station in 1986 while attending Texas A&M. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1988 and a master’s in public administration from A&M in 1990. Simpson worked in various administrative capacities with the City of College Station from 1989-93. He and his wife, Kelly, have three children.

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Five things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

gavel[1]Here are five items to watch when the College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings:   (more…)


Five things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

gavel[1]From Gig ‘em to Gig. U, the College Station City Council will have a full agenda when it gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch: (more…)


Live Blog: Thursday’s City Council Meetings (Nov. 8)

This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Nov. 8. It’s not the official minutes.

The workshop and regular meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. An archive of previous council meetings also is available on the site.

6:08 p.m.

The workshop meeting has started. Council member Katy-Marie Lyles is absent tonight.

6:22 p.m.

Employer Support of Guard/Reserves

Since Veteran’s Day is Sunday, the council received a special workshop presentation on the city’s support and hiring of veterans, and their participation in the Guard and Reserve. The council also recognized several service member/employees in attendance.

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Five Things to Watch at Thursday’s City Council Meetings

The College Station City Council will meet Thursday at city hall for its workshop (6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch on Thursday:

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We love our trash-talking citizens

It’s no surprise that we receive more complaints than praise.  Ask those who deliver any product or service — cable company, gas company, restaurants, airlines, media — whether they receive more complaints or compliments and I believe you’ll hear the same answers.  It’s not that exceptional service isn’t delivered on a consistent basis, but it’s that you rarely hear from people when things are going great.

That is, unless you work for College Station Public Works’ Sanitation Division.

In terms of our city organization, these men and women apparently are the shining stars, because I see more citizen expressions of gratitude toward them than all other departments combined.  Some recent excerpts:

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Mosquitoes beware: Bobby is on the loose!

The City of College Station is taking an aggressive approach to battling local mosquito populations. In addition to distributing mosquito dunks to homeowner and neighborghood associations, city crews are performing spot spraying and placing their own dunks in areas of heavy infestations. Much of that responsibility falls on Drainage Maintenance Crew Leader Bobby Engledow, a longtime city employee who was out bright and early this morning spraying a drainage culvert that runs between homes on South Rayado and Arroyo courts. Looks like a fun job, doesn’t it? But think of all the pesky (and potentially dangerous) mosquitoes that are no longer around.

For more information on the city’s mosquito abatement program, read the recent blog by Neighborhood Services Coordinator Barbara Moore. Click here to learn more about West NileVirus.


Improved Northgate safety was worth the wait

Few things are more frustrating than getting caught in congested traffic, especially when it’s caused by inconvenient construction projects. However, when the dust eventually settles, the benefits of these necessary projects quickly become evident.

That’s certainly the case with the University Drive Pedestrian Safety Project, which will greatly enhance the safety of students and other pedestrians in the Northgate area. For more than three years, the City of College Station has worked closely with Texas A&M and the Texas Department of Transportation on the project. Thankfully, the first phase — which stretches from Wellborn Road to Tauber Street – is expected to be finished in the next two weeks.

Pavers are being installed on the new College Main Plaza, and traffic control devices will be removed in the next few days. Next week, retractable bollards will be installed at the College Main-University and College Main-Patricia Street intersections, along with new pedestrian signals at Boyett and University.

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Live Blog: Thursday’s City Council Meetings (July 26)

This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, July 26. It’s not the official minutes.

The workshop and regular meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. An archive of previous council meetings also is available on the site.

6:04 p.m.

The workshop meeting has started. Council member Jess Fields is absent.

7:01 p.m.

Economic Development Master Plan

The council heard an update on the first phase of the Economic Development Master Plan, which is being prepared as part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The first phase focuses on demographics, socioeconomic data, a preliminary assessment of market conditions, and preliminary identification of opportunities and challenges in the local market.

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Live Blog: Thursday’s City Council Meetings (June 14)

This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, June 14. It is not the official minutes.

The workshop and regular meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. An archive of previous council meetings also is available on the site.

6:07 p.m.

The workshop meeting has started. Council member Julie Schultz is out-of-town.

6:08 p.m.

Settlement of Lawsuit

The council approved by a 6-0 vote this legal settlement:

In the case of Tracey Sheets, Plaintiff, and City of College Station, Intervenor, v. Get Lucky, LLC dba Lux Nightclub and Alex Ford, Defendants, of the city’s workers’ compensation lien that provides the City of College Station to receive $65,000 net of expenses and plaintiff’s statutory attorney’s fees, to redirect or assign to Sheets any funds collected pursuant to the restitution judgment in favor of the City of College Station from Ford and to authorize the city manager to execute any documents necessary to finalize the settlement of this matter consistent with the approval of this motion.  


Yes, a Hybrid Garbage Truck!

The City of College Station’s Sanitation Division is always researching new methods and technologies to provide safe, efficient and cost effective solid waste services to our residents, but don’t take my word for it – read our mission statement:

To provide safe, efficient and cost effective solid waste and recycling collection services incorporating state-of-the-art methods and technology, with world-class customer service to all citizens of College Station, in conjunction with promoting waste reduction and clean community programs through public education.”

That’s why we’re excited about unveiling our first Autocar E3 Hybrid this week, making us the first city in the Brazos Valley to operate a hybrid garbage truck. 

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City Council Preview (June 14)

Here’s a quick look at some of the items the College Station City Council will be discussing at its workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, June 14. This blog is not a complete and official agenda.

The workshop and regular meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. Previous council meetings are archived on the website. A detailed live blog from the meetings will be posted on this site and also can be accessed through the city’s Facebook page.

Workshop Meeting (6 p.m.)

CVB Annual Report

The council will hear a report from the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau about its activities in 2012. The city provides the CVB with $1 million each year from the Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund.

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Why Should You Give a Hoot about SeeClickFix?

Since the City of College Station began using SeeClickFix for citizens to report code enforcement and public works issues, hundreds of issues have been successfully resolved. And of the 143 cases reported through the online application in 2011, most were resolved within a week.

However, a successful resolution doesn’t always mean fulfilling the request – at least not immediately.

A few weeks ago, a resident used SeeClickFix to request the removal of a diseased tree in Brison Park. The next day, a Parks and Recreation Department crew discovered that a large limb had fallen off the sick tree, revealing a partially hollow interior. A peek inside revealed that the tree may have been hollow, but it was certainly not empty.

A family of owls had taken up residence and seemed to be doing quite well, thank you.

Displacing the young family from its cozy home wasn’t an attractive option, so the soft-hearted city crew chose to leave the shabby tree – and its feathered occupants – alone for now. When the resident learned why his request would not be resolved, he chuckled and said we’d hear no more “screeching and hooting” about it from him.

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Live Blog: Thursday’s City Council Meetings (May 24)

This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, May 24. It is not the official minutes.

The workshop and regular meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. An archive of previous council meetings also is available on the site.

8:35 p.m.

After discussing the council calendar, future agenda items and receiving committee reports, the workshop meeting has been adjourned. The next council meeting is scheduled for June 14.

8:31 p.m.

The regular meeting has been adjourned. The council will now resume its workshop agenda.

8:30 p.m.

TCEQ Public Meeting Request

The council unanimously approved a request to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to schedule a public meeting to receive stakeholder comments about a proposed permit to operate a private landfill northwest of the intersection of Stewarts Meadow and Raymond Stotzer Parkway. The proposed private landfill would contain about 4.2 million cubic yards of material and will reach its capacity in 7.4 years. The scale of the proposed facility could significantly affect the quality of life for residents and property owners in College Station and its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

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Trains, Pains and Automobiles: City Works to Keep Traffic Moving

“What’s up with that traffic signal?”

Have you ever asked that question while sitting at a red light? Traffic signals are frequent targets of verbal abuse, especially when they are on the blink (pun intended!). And you always seem to catch that red light when you’re late for an important appointment.

How hard can it be to make these things work right, anyway?

Keeping our traffic lights maintained and operating efficiently is a bigger job than you might think. The City of College Station’s Traffic Division maintains and operates 70 traffic signals, 50 pedestrian/school zone flashers, more than 12,000 traffic signs and over 100 miles of long-line pavement markings.

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Live Blog: Thursday’s City Council Meetings (March 8)

8:25 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned. The council meets again March 22.

8:24 p.m.

Garza Appointed to Keep Brazos Beautiful Board

The council unanimously approved Venessa Garza to a three-year term as the city’s representative to the Keep Brazos Beautiful board of directors.

8:23 p.m.

Rezoning of Former Plaza Hotel Property

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved the rezoning of 11 acres at the northwest corner of the Texas Avenue and University Drive intersection to allow for a mixed-use and multi-family redevelopment. All existing buildings, including the former Plaza Hotel tower, will be demolished before building permits will be issued. Improvements to the intersection are expected to offset the impact of the development on traffic.

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Treasure Found in City Drainage Ditch

Public Works Employees Reunite Aggie with Lost Ring

You wouldn’t think a typical drainage ditch would be a place to find lost treasure, but City of College Station maintenance crews through the years have found tons of valuable stuff in those muddy trenches: jewelry, wallets, purses, car keys, credit cards and even wads of cash are frequently uncovered by mowers and other equipment.

But the three-man crew mowing deep grass in a ditch near Southwest Parkway on Tuesday came across something they never expected. Eddie Bookman, a city employee since 2004, saw something resting on the bottom 2 x 4 of a fence that ran parallel to the ditch. At first, he thought the small object was just an old mud dauber nest. But as soon as he picked it up, he knew it was something a bit more special. Judging from the imprint on the wood, the item had been there for a very long time.

It was a mud-caked Aggie ring embossed with the year 2004.

Bookman summoned his co-workers, T.J. Pemberton and Ben Dickerson, and they found the name Nicholas McClure etched inside. Knowing that Aggies treasure nothing more than their class rings, the trio embarked on a valiant quest to locate Mr. McClure and reunite him with his lost treasure. They were also curious to find out how it came to rest in such an obscure place.

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CSU’s Commercial Sanitation Billing: Almost Perfection

Okay, we admit it. We’re not perfect.

But we were awfully close in the annual audit of College Station Utilities’ commercial sanitation billing. The audit revealed that out of about 980 commercial accounts, we had a single error. That’s right, just one. And it was for an under-billing.

Can you imagine a major league baseball player who made just one error in 980 chances?

College Station Utilities takes pride in producing accurate bills to our customers.  In most cases, the service level doesn’t change once the account is set up, except with commercial sanitation billing.  Businesses are provided services and charged by a variable rate schedule that depends on the volume of waste they generate. This means they can change their internal procedures to change the amount of waste they produce. When this happens, we may need to adjust the number of days we collect their waste, or we may even need to remove their container and place a different one at their location. The billing is then changed to reflect the new level of service.

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State of the City (Part 6): Sustainable City

This is the final post of a six-part series by City Manager David Neeley based on his 2011 State of the City Report.

Reorganization of Sustainability Efforts

After several years of using a council-appointed task force to assist the city with its sustainability efforts, it was determined that a different approach would need to be taken to complete the Green College Station Action Plan prior to the conclusion of the Department of Energy grant we received in 2009. The Action Plan, which will address energy efficiency, renewable energy, air quality, water conservation, protection of green areas and green house gas emission reduction as it pertains to the city organization, will be presented to the council for approval in 2012. 

Enhancing Conservation

Using Department of Energy stimulus grant funding, Parks and Recreation was able to complete the installation of irrigation system upgrades and smart controllers as well as LED parking lot lighting and solar-powered trash compactors at Veteran’s Park and Central Park. Several pilot projects were also undertaken to reduce costs and promote conservation, including the use of nitrogen in vehicular tires, synthetic motor oil, retreaded tires on certain equipment and a lighter weight copy paper city wide.

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