ASK ANN

"One of our meter readers was robbed recently while on the job. While she was away from her truck, it was broken into and her backpack containing her ID, driver's license, credit cards, etc. was taken. Several other members of my crew have voiced a concern about carrying their wallets and backpacks with them to jobsites while this sort of thing could reoccur. My question is: What procedures or policies do other communities have in place that provide some level of comfort and security for field crews? What ID are they required to carry? Can they carry copies of critical ID such as driver's licenses so that the originals can be secured in their lockers?" Gord Brown, Public Works Manager, District of Campbell River, BC, Canada

Terrorism isn't the only threat our employees face. Sometimes we forget just how available our crews are to being targets for petty theft or worse. I'm certain you'll hear from some agencies on the infoNOW Community, but I do think it's worth our time to consider the question here. Local agencies have differing requirements for actual "proof of identity" while on the job. It would seem most appropriate to have a valid agency identification badge, complete with picture, since this should provide proof to residents that the individual wandering in their yard to take a meter reading or such is really an agency employee and not someone "casing" their property for nefarious purposes. With all the identity theft issues now, it would seem that the less personal information an employee has with them on the job, the better. I'd suggest you check with your law enforcement agency to determine whether a photocopy of their driver's license is necessary or whether they need to have it on their person or not while on duty. Please send your comments directly to Gord at Gordon.brown@dcr.ca.

"Recently I have received a request for information about starting an Environmental Committee of some kind in our small community. Can you suggest ideas to get them started that might be agreeable both to the volunteers and to our agency?"

Volunteers can be the lifeblood of a good environmental program in your community or they can suck the lifeblood out of your environmental program if you don't provide them with some good preliminary ideas and suggestions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a great publication entitled "Volunteer for Change: A Guide to Environmental Community Service" which you can download from their website at
www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/docs/vol4chng.pdf. The Guide provides case studies of reuse, recycling, composting and household hazardous waste projects from across the country. Give it a look.

"Our community has been overrun with traffic accidents involving a variety of wildlife creatures, especially deer. We posted warning signs about the likelihood of the animals being in that area, but we still had more accidents last year than ever before. Any suggestions on how we reduce these occurrences?"

We all know the answer to the age-old question "Why did the chicken cross the road?" but we are just beginning to find answers to HOW the deer crossed the road. With all the construction eroding natural habitat and the overpopulation of deer in most areas of the country, it's not unexpected that more than 247,000 car crashes each year involve animals. Since the deer can't read and have poor radar capabilities, one solution which is gaining in popularity is building underpass structures for animals of all sizes to cross. Sounds absurd but the Virginia Transportation Research Center conducted a year-long study that found that nearly 1,000 deer and more than 1,000 smaller mammals used the underpasses at three of the sites. The most popular type is a large box culvert. The culverts cost less than $200,000 each which may seem high for animal crossings, but it is estimated that a single human traffic fatality costs more than $3 million in lost income, medical costs and property damage. Might want to consider this alternative when you're constructing new projects in high-density areas.

"Our engineering firm is looking for the APWA Standard Specifications for various construction projects. We called your national office but were told you don't have them. Why do we see them referenced in bid documents if they don't exist?"

You're right. We do get that call in our office and we do tell you that APWA doesn't have national Standards and Specifications because we don't! What you may see referenced in plans and specifications is referring to APWA Chapter specifications. If you are seeking information about a specific specification, you should contact your state chapter to determine if they have adopted standards and specifications. If you don't know whom to contact, log on to our website at www.apwa.net, click on the Chapters icon at the top of the page, and then scroll down to the second paragraph on that page that has chapter websites highlighted. You can then scroll through the list of chapter websites and select the one nearest your location and get contact information for a chapter officer who can direct you to the appropriate person for the information you are requesting or let you know that your chapter has not adopted any standards.

Ask Ann...

Questions are welcome.

Please address all inquiries to:

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd., Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625
Fax questions to (816) 472-1610
E-mail:
adaniels@apwa.net