"We understand there are several agencies that have discontinued making the majority of their signs in favor of outsourcing them. Is this happening frequently?" Fred Schattner, Skokie, IL

Many public works departments have been producing their own signs for years. However, with the changing technology and requirements for new sign materials, more are purchasing the "standard" MUTCD-approved signs from outside sources and printing only their street name and special signs in-house. Some sources, such as prison industries, can produce the MUTCD signs at lesser costs than the agencies can produce them. There's no one preferred way. Analyze your costs and check it out.

"Our department has not been able to get funding for a GIS program even though we've tried for several years to convince our Council it is really something we need. Any ideas on how we might make this happen?"

This seems to be an issue in many cities and counties. One innovative way several nearby cities found was to form a consortium where everyone contributed a portion of the funding for the cost of the program. Each agency has trained personnel to use the system and the joint effort seems to be going very well for them. The Village of Skokie, IL, has participated in something along these lines and I'm certain they would be happy to share their experience with you. Contact Mark Willing, Deputy Public Works Director, at and he can direct you to the appropriate staff person.

"We have been struggling to develop good community education programs to support our stormwater program requirements, especially for school children. Can you suggest someone we might talk to about theirs?"

I just returned today from the City of Chesapeake, VA (which, by the way, is our most recently Accredited agency) and they have an outstanding curriculum developed for third and sixth graders. They have developed a partnership with the local newspaper and a supplement is printed in the paper which includes games, puzzles, facts and figures and information provided at an age-appropriate level. One is titled "Water Conservation & You" and the second "Virginia Watersheds: Conservation and You." Contact Harry Kenyon, Public Information Specialist, at for more information.

Patty Copeland, Public Works Coordinator, Bettendorf, IA (another Accredited agency), developed a "see-thru" display showing how native grasses help to retain stormwater and protect the environment. She uses the display for National Public Works Week education events for school children. Contact Patty at I know there are many more good examples out there. If you'd like to share your programs with us, please send me a description of your program and we'll compile a list of ideas for others. Send them to That way we can all "educate" each other!

"I am wondering if there is any literature that discusses proactive measures that utilities (specifically wastewater treatment facilities) can take to prevent contamination of avian flu to our employees, should it be found that the virus can survive water temperature and chlorine as part of the wastewater treatment process." David Schmidt, Village of Barrington, IL

I have searched all the sources I could find for a response to David's question but have not found anything that could help. My guess would be that this is not something that has been written about extensively since the initial problems have been more concerned with preventing the virus from mutating to a strain where it could be transmitted directly from human to human. If you know of literature that addresses David's question, please send me your response and I'll share it with everyone.

"Whatever happened to all the talk about Smart Growth? It used to be a hot topic. Has it changed names, directions, or gone away?"

You're right. We did hear a lot about Smart Growth a couple years ago. Then we switched to talking about "Sustainable Communities" because it was embarrassing to talk against Smart Growth because that made it look like you wanted Dumb Growth. All foolishness aside, the Smart Growth Network and ICMA have a new publication titled "This is Smart Growth" which is available as a free PFD download at This is not really a how-to manual, which is probably a good thing. Instead it focuses on what Smart Growth looks and feels like, who lives there, and why the communities that chose Smart Growth made the effort to look ahead and plan for a brighter future. The publication contains dozens of examples of how Smart Growth principles have been applied in small towns, big cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Check it out, it's worth your time.

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