"We are in the process of updating our employee performance review system and are seeking examples of forms and/or questionnaires that other public works agencies use. Any examples or recommendations that you could share would help us out." Greg Koch, Director of Public Works, Village of Lyons, IL
Finding a great employee performance review program is kind of like finding the Holy Grail. You know it should be out there but it seems always to be just out of your grasp. If your agency has found a good one, and would be willing to share, please contact Greg at gkoch@villageoflyons-il-org. I'm sure any help will be welcome.
"My agency is working through the self-assessment program and we are finding several requirements we never really thought were important to us. One of them is a safety program. Just what should be in a safety program and why would we need it?"
Glad you asked. Sometimes the things we do the most frequently are the ones we feel we need to have less formalized policies in place. One of those is a safety program. A few thoughts on developing the program might include such issues as: executive and driver management's commitment to and involvement in the safety program, driver and supervisory responsibilities, a mandatory seat belt policy, personal vehicle use, smoking in vehicles, and cellular phone use. Training for drivers, reviewing driving records and accident histories, reference checks, and a good driver selection and qualification policy are all valuable parts of the program. Add a section on accident reporting and investigation procedures, vehicle selection standards, vehicle inspection and maintenance procedures, and driver training programs. Check with your insurance carrier to determine what impact a well-documented safety program might provide in reducing insurance rates.
"I read a clip about robots being used to monitor drinking water. Can you provide any more information?"
While I've only read snippets about this program, I'm happy to share what I know. A network of underwater robots began collecting samples and transmitting water quality data via cellular phone signals to a computer at Syracuse University which could have far-reaching implications for source water protection and even homeland security. The result of the data collected by the robots is posted to a website (www.ourlake.org). Because this is a real-time solution, the process eliminates collecting water samples in bottles and taking them to a lab for testing. It also allows emergency responders to deal with incidents such as spills and contamination much more quickly. In the future, researchers envision water quality sensors will be used to aid in homeland security to protect water supplies from both unintentional and intentional contamination. The project was first developed in Minnesota in the 1990s and will be fully operational in New York by summer 2005. Similar programs are underway in Washington, Minnesota, Nevada, and North Carolina. For more information check out the state water quality websites for each state.
"While attending the APWA Congress in Atlanta recently, I heard mention of a program in Canada which is providing best practices. Could you provide more information?"
While U.S. infrastructure needs are in the news almost daily, our neighbors and fellow APWA members in Canada are experiencing very similar problems. Their solution has been to develop "InfraGuide: Innovations and Best Practices." A joint project of Infrastructure Canada, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the National Research Council, it is a national network of professionals and a growing collection of user-friendly best practice documents for Canadian agencies. Guidelines for decision making and investment planning, practical technical advice in the areas of potable water, stormwater and wastewater, municipal roads and sidewalks, and environmental protocols are all available by contacting www.infraguide.ca.
"We are considering recycling our asphalt pavement but don't really know how successful the process is. Can anyone share their experiences with us?"
According to members of the Asphalt Recycling & Reclaiming Association (ARRA), the process is a highly cost-effective alternative to total reconstruction of a roadway. Recycling is good for the environment and asphalt is the most recycled of all materials. In-place recycling eliminates the need to transport demolished pavement to a remote storage area which saves fuel, jobsite congestion and dust, and overall costs. Furthermore, in-place recycling eliminates stockpiles of recycled asphalt product which is an environmental issue in some locations. All asphalt recycling makes use of the original aggregate. Not only is this older aggregate often the best quality, is eases demand on virgin aggregate which is in limited supply in many areas. For more information visit their website at www.arra.org.
Questions are welcome.
Please address all inquiries to:
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625
Fax questions to (816) 472-0405