City of North Miami Beach introduces APWA flag at South Florida Branch meeting

Esmond K. Scott
Assistant Director of Public Services
City of North Miami Beach, Florida

When the City of North Miami Beach’s time came to host the January meeting of the Florida Chapter’s South Florida Branch, it was more than just being next in rotation. It was a rare and somewhat historical opportunity to not only showcase its city, but to add dimensions to a branch that had remained dormant for several years and had only months before begun to awake from its slumber.

As host, Kelvin L. Baker, North Miami Beach’s Public Services Director and a branch board director, knew that “we wanted to do something different.” Departing from the usual and customary luncheon meeting, Baker decided to add an equipment exposition. The meeting would be extended and the public works decision-makers in attendance would be able to conveniently view equipment and establish contacts with manufacturers without leaving their locale. “By having the equipment exposition we were guaranteeing a few things,” Baker remarked. “Having challenged vendors to bring out their latest equipment, this sparked interest among members to attend and bring their equipment operators as well. After all, it was being held locally and the costs cities would incur would be minimal.” This would help to solidify the branch’s return, create interest, and in some indelible manner patently demonstrate a commitment to ensure longevity and furthering the goals and aspirations of this local branch with its state chapter and the national organization.

Still, there was something else that needed to be added. “We wanted to create a symbol of this commitment,” Baker urged, “something similar to the passing of a baton.” The host committee met weekly and the creative juices flowed. Mike Good, Branch President, was at the helm of a branch that from all early indicators, since its reemergence, demonstrated that it would be high-flying upon takeoff. And then the idea came. The traditional symbol would be a flag—an APWA flag. It would be passed on as a tradition, but more so as a reminder that the branch was committed to assume permanence and maintain longevity this time around.

Plans were, upon procurement of the flag, that it would be flown high and, on the day of the event, it would be passed on to the next host city.

It would not be that easy. APWA did not have a flag—at least not yet. Over the next few months, however, members of Baker’s committee, particularly North Miami Beach’s Beautification Supervisor John Deck; Graeme Hunt, APWA Graphic Designer; and David Dancy, APWA’s Director of Marketing, worked tirelessly to accomplish that task. “APWA National was happy to assist in the design elements of this flag,” says Dancy. “We wanted it to be a long-lasting, quality representation of APWA.” Hunt describes it as bold and reflecting “the ideals of APWA while at the same time not being convoluted.”

On January 31, 2003 as the branch convened, the traditional luncheon-meeting component was there and Kelvin Baker and his committee had added an equipment exposition. Twenty vendors displayed their latest equipment to the more than 300 attendees who showed up for what had taken the semblance of a mini-state conference. All of this had been underwritten through the generous donations of sponsors.

But amidst the PowerPoint presentation, the expo and the luncheon, Kelvin Baker and his planning committee had realized the goal. The symbol that had been created through the help of APWA National was flying proudly above the tented canopy of meeting attendees, and 56 pieces of the latest equipment captured the interest of key public works officials from the furthest parameters of the branch’s boundaries. And when the time came to pass on the symbolic element—binding it all to Brad Kaine, Assistant to the Public Works Director of the City of Deerfield Beach—North Miami Beach’s Public Services Department had completed its job. Kaine graciously accepted while vowing to keep the tradition alive. The flag serves “as a lasting memory of not only just a tremendously successful branch meeting,” according to Good, but as a constant reminder that the national agenda and raison d’etre are being relayed with each meeting hosted and with each hoisting of the flag.

Esmond Scott can be reached at (305) 919-3746 or at Esmond.Scott@citynmb.com.