I heard the saddest story at the American Public Works Association convention last month.

As usual, I also heard about accomplishments that entail a level of drive far beyond what’s needed just to get through the typical day in public works.

The City of Peoria, Ariz., worked with state educators to develop a water/wastewater apprenticeship program that enables graduates to work anywhere in the nation. Tucson, Ariz., worked with the Federal Highway Administration to adapt the pedestrian hybrid beacon concept for bicycles. City engineers and water resource managers nationwide are meeting stormwater permit requirements with street beautification projects that require these employees to publicly challenge the status quo.

Public works employees champion such initiatives because they’re committed to these concepts in their personal lives and want to help others. They are sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors.

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