INTERNATIONAL IDEA EXCHANGE

Slovak and Czech Republics Spring Conferences

Dwayne E. Kalynchuk, P.Eng.
Engineering Manager
Walton International Group Inc.
Edmonton, Alberta
APWA Immediate Past President

APWA has enabled me to travel extensively not only within North America, but also to represent our association overseas. Such was the case last month when I attended the spring meetings of our two European partner associations in the Slovak and Czech Republics.

A small equipment display at Tatranske Zruby, location of the Slovak Spring meeting.

The locations of the conferences were in two unique areas steeped in both history and breathtaking sites. The Slovak Conference was in the High Tatras, a mountain range in the eastern part of the Slovak Republic. The meeting was at Tatranske Zruby, which is part of the town of High Tatras located in the Tatra National Park. This park covers an area of 75,000 hectares and is the oldest and largest national park in the Slovak Republic. Unfortunately, high winds last winter did extensive damage to the area by flattening trees and damaging tourist facilities. The Slovak Public Works Association wanted to show their support for the region by choosing to locate their Spring Conference meeting here. Over 100 participants took part in the one-day meeting and equipment show, which included small and large equipment from all over Europe, and a supplier's tabletop display.

I gave a presentation on APWA's management practices at both meetings. I addressed the Public Works Management Practices Manual and the self-assessment and accreditation process which we have used in North America. I also covered several chapters in the manual in areas we have in common such as landscaping, street and winter maintenance, and cemeteries. Members of both associations were very interested in the details of our practices and believed that an application existed in their organization for the manual and assessment process in the future if the documents could be translated into Czech and Slovak. APWA has done this with our Mexican partners and today the Management Practices Manual is available in Spanish.

One of the main focuses of both the Slovak and Czech meetings were the new requirements on the public works profession imposed by the European Union, since both countries became members in 2004. An example of a new requirement as of this year is that tires would not be allowed in landfills. Therefore both countries would have to develop recycling programs to deal with this commodity. Another requirement for the Czech Republic is that all pedestrian crosswalks must be lit and pedestrian-activated in 2005. While it is recognized that the implementation of such measures will improve the quality of life of the citizens, the main issues are the costs, availability of contractors and materials, and the potential of funding from the European Union.

The Slovak one-day meeting wound up with a dinner and performances of two local folk groups, which included string instruments, singing, and dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

14th-century Castle Trosky dominates the skyline of the Bohemian Paradise.

The next morning came far too early and involved a seven-hour drive from the eastern part of Slovakia to the western side of the Czech Republic to the Region of Jicin, which is often referred to as the "Bohemian Paradise." The area offers a picturesque landscape and historic sites with the meeting held at the "Huba Skala," a 14th century castle. Surrounding the castle is the rock town-400 sandstone towers reaching the height of up to 55 meters. The dominating feature of the skyline and one of the symbols of the Bohemian Paradise are the ruins of the Castle Trosky.

The Czech Association consists of 95 member companies and is made up of several technical areas similar to APWA. These include road and winter maintenance, landscaping, solid waste, and international affairs. Presently the main focus of the Czech Association is advocacy with their national government. The association executive also arranges numerous trips for its members to other European conferences, equipment shows, and tours of suppliers' plants. They are hoping to arrange for a large group to visit the APWA Congress in New Orleans in 2006. The majority of the discussion at the one-day meeting was similar to the Slovak Association, the new requirements under the European Union.

  The equipment display at the Czech Meeting.

After a well-received presentation on APWA management practices, my host Dr. Jiri Neuzil and I toured the facilities of equipment manufacturer Kobit Equipment, the main conference sponsor, in Jicin. This company, which is privately owned, manufactures inert and chemical spreaders, snowplows, sewer flushers, street sweepers, and numerous other truck-mounted units, which are distributed throughout Europe. I was extremely impressed with the diversity, quality, and professional approach of this company. Hopefully, the company president will attend our Congress in the future to determine if the potential exists in the North American market for these products.

While it was business all day for me, my 17-year-old daughter, Jennifer, who had accompanied me on the trip, was the guest of the Czech Association with a tour guide and a full day of sightseeing. The highlight was a one-hour flight on a small private aircraft of the chateaus and castles in the region. They even allowed her to try her hand at flying the plane.

As with the Slovak meeting, the successful Czech meeting and equipment show wrapped up with a dinner and dance.

APWA Past President Dwayne Kalynchuk (right) and Jaroslav Nozicka, President of Kobit Equipment in Jicin. The Canadian flag at the plant entrance was a nice touch.

This was my third visit to Europe with our counterparts, and over the five years the relationship between the European associations and APWA has grown. Europe, and in particular the Czech and Slovak countries, are changing substantially under the European Union. Presently a single constitution is being debated throughout all countries in the Union. Measures such as this will make the EU a future economic power in the world. Continued relationships such as ours will allow us to partner with these merging players.

Dr. Jiri Neuzil will be presenting a paper entitled "The Impact of the European Union on the Czech and Slovak Republics: One Year Later" at Congress this year in Minneapolis. It should also be noted that the Jennings Randolph Fellowship will be available to APWA members who wish to attend the European spring meetings in 2006 (for more information on the Jennings Randolph Fellowship, please see pages 44-45 of the April issue - Ed.).

I want to specifically thank my hosts Dr. Jiri Neuzil and Oliver Celko, and the Presidents and Boards of the Czech and Slovak Associations for their hospitality this year. I hope we continue a strong partnership as we both benefit and learn from each other.

Dwayne E. Kalynchuk, P.Eng., Immediate Past President of APWA, is Chair of the Nominating Committee and a past member of the Finance and Exposition Advisory Committees. He can be reached at (780) 421-8961 or dkalynchuk@waltoninternational.com.


International Infrastructure and Public Services Congress and Exhibition
July 13-16, 2005
Aguascalientes, Mexico

APWA's International Affairs Committee invites you to become part of APWA's delegation to the International Infrastructure and Public Services Congress and Exhibition this summer in Aguascalientes, Mexico. This major international conference will be held July 13 to 16 in the historic colonial city of Aguascalientes, Mexico, capital of the namesake state of Aguascalientes.

  Aguascalientes is well known for its extensive public art.

Sponsored by the Mexican Municipalities Association (AMMAC), one of APWA's international partnership organizations, the International Infrastructure Congress will draw attendees from throughout Mexico and Latin America. APWA has actively participated in this conference for a number of years, with members both attending sessions as well as making presentations. APWA President Tom Trice is scheduled to represent the APWA Board of Directors at this year's conference.

Any APWA member wishing to participate in this Congress as an attendee, exhibitor or presenter should contact Julio Fuentes, chair of the APWA/AMMAC Task Force, at (619) 533-3092 or by e-mail at JFuentes@sandiego.gov.

Aguascalientes has a population of around 650,000, is situated in the geographic center of Mexico at an elevation of 6,100 feet, and enjoys a year-round spring-like climate. A major transportation hub, Aguascalientes enjoys easy access to many of Mexico's major tourist destinations, including San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Guadalajara, and Mexico City. Participation in this year's summer Congress could easily be combined with an extended vacation to some of these, or other, tourist destinations.


International Infrastructure Management Summit, New Zealand, October 2005

The year's most innovative and complete international asset management conference will be held in Rotorua, New Zealand from 17 to 19 October 2005.

The International Infrastructure Management Summit will bring together infrastructure leaders and decision makers from around the world in a spectacular geothermal setting in one of the country's top tourist destinations.

The Summit offers a unique opportunity to network and learn more about managing, maintaining and future-proofing infrastructural assets, from energy and water to buildings and transport systems. Along with international keynote speakers, the Summit will feature interactive, facilitated workshops and special interest groups.

To round out the week, the Summit will be followed by two days of optional site visits to local councils, to see asset management practices in action.

As well as being a leader in asset management, New Zealand is a stunning tourist destination with outstanding natural beauty. Rotorua boasts activities for the most adventurous or the happily sedate and is a centre of Maori culture, so make sure to allow plenty of time to explore this lovely part of the world. It's also a place where visitors will be pleasantly surprised to discover how far their dollar will go (including the Canadian).

Plan now to attend the International Infrastructure Management Summit. It promises to be an education as well as a great adventure. The Summit website (www.infrastructuresummit.com) will be updated as new information becomes available.

For more information please contact ross@ingenium.org.nz.


Quotes related to engineering and technology:

"Technology... the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it." - Max Frisch

"When computers (people) are networked, their power multiplies geometrically. Not only can people share all that information inside their machines, but they can reach out and instantly tap the power of other machines (people), essentially making the entire network their computer." - Scott McNeely

"In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time—literally—substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it." - Peter Drucker

"The sound of anything coming at you—a train, say, or the future—has a higher pitch than the sound of the same thing going away." - What Engineers Know, and How They Know It, by Walter Vincenti, 1990, and Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner, 1971.

"If you don't know where you're going, you're unlikely to end up there." - Forrest Gump

"The plan is nothing; the planning is everything." - Dwight Eisenhower