Launch Slideshow

Public works department masters the art of multitasking

Public works department masters the art of multitasking

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  • One department employee spends every day, spring through fall, tending the landscape at the townships five parks and two open-space parks. This rain garden was built and planted with Chester Ridley Crum Watershed Association. During summer, and the busy leaf season, the township hires part-time help with its parks and blacktop repairs.

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    One department employee spends every day, spring through fall, tending the landscape at the townships five parks and two open-space parks. This rain garden was built and planted with Chester Ridley Crum Watershed Association. During summer, and the busy leaf season, the township hires part-time help with its parks and blacktop repairs.

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    Darryl Dixon

    One department employee spends every day, spring through fall, tending the landscape at the township’s five parks and two open-space parks. This rain garden was built and planted with Chester Ridley Crum Watershed Association. During summer, and the busy leaf season, the township hires part-time help with its parks and blacktop repairs.
  • For about $750, Assistant Public Works Director, Frank Freeman, devised two brine applicators (100- and 700-gallon capacity) that can be mounted on a pick-up truck and sewer machine (shown here). It would have cost the township thousands of dollars to buy the equipment.

    http://www.pwmag.com/Images/Nether%20Providence%20Township%20Public%20works%20Dept_3_tcm111-2098458.jpg

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    For about $750, Assistant Public Works Director, Frank Freeman, devised two brine applicators (100- and 700-gallon capacity) that can be mounted on a pick-up truck and sewer machine (shown here). It would have cost the township thousands of dollars to buy the equipment.

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    Darryl Dixon

    For about $750, Assistant Public Works Director, Frank Freeman, devised two brine applicators (100- and 700-gallon capacity) that can be mounted on a pick-up truck and sewer machine (shown here). It would have cost the township thousands of dollars to buy the equipment.
  • The departments fleet manager works three days a week, and is responsible for nine highway and eight police department vehicles. It takes two months to prepare seven leaf machines. A leaf machine is shown here, at the townships yard waste drop-off and free compost pick-up area.

    http://www.pwmag.com/Images/Nether%20Providence%20Township%20Public%20works%20Dept_4_tcm111-2098459.jpg

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    The departments fleet manager works three days a week, and is responsible for nine highway and eight police department vehicles. It takes two months to prepare seven leaf machines. A leaf machine is shown here, at the townships yard waste drop-off and free compost pick-up area.

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    Darryl Dixon

    The department’s fleet manager works three days a week, and is responsible for nine highway and eight police department vehicles. It takes two months to prepare seven leaf machines. A leaf machine is shown here, at the township’s yard waste drop-off and free compost pick-up area.
  • With everything the department does, one might think its facility would be the size of a small town. Actually, says Public Works Director, Darryl Dixon, its smaller than most people think. We try to be efficient with our space and operations by placing everything strategically within a series of bays, he says. Residents can still come in and out safely.

    http://www.pwmag.com/Images/Nether%20Providence%20Township%20Public%20works%20Dept_5_tcm111-2098460.jpg

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    With everything the department does, one might think its facility would be the size of a small town. Actually, says Public Works Director, Darryl Dixon, its smaller than most people think. We try to be efficient with our space and operations by placing everything strategically within a series of bays, he says. Residents can still come in and out safely.

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    With everything the department does, one might think its facility would be the size of a small town. Actually, says Public Works Director, Darryl Dixon, it’s smaller than most people think. “We try to be efficient with our space and operations by placing everything strategically within a series of bays,” he says. “Residents can still come in and out safely.”
  • Nether Providence Township occasionally contracts out major jobs, such as deep sewer work (more than 6 feet deep) or replacing an entire sewer main. The townships highway crew performs its own asphalt repairs with an annual budget of $100,000, but will hire a contractor for a large resurfacing project.

    http://www.pwmag.com/Images/Nether%20Providence%20Township%20Public%20works%20Dept_6_tcm111-2098461.jpg

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    Nether Providence Township occasionally contracts out major jobs, such as deep sewer work (more than 6 feet deep) or replacing an entire sewer main. The townships highway crew performs its own asphalt repairs with an annual budget of $100,000, but will hire a contractor for a large resurfacing project.

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    Darryl Dixon

    Nether Providence Township occasionally contracts out major jobs, such as deep sewer work (more than 6 feet deep) or replacing an entire sewer main. The township’s highway crew performs its own asphalt repairs with an annual budget of $100,000, but will hire a contractor for a large resurfacing project.

When the taxpayers of Nether Providence Township, Pa. see their parks being maintained, streets repaired, signs replaced, leaves collected, and snow plowed, most probably don’t realize it’s all being done by the same nine people. For Public Works Director Darryl Dixon and his eight-man team, being self-sufficient is a point of pride.

With a budget of $1.3 million, the staff services 4.7 square miles for 13,000 residents, roughly 15 miles southwest of Philadelphia. Dixon credits longevity for the team’s range of skills. As a 22-year veteran of the department, his tenure is topped by at least three others with more than 30 years on the job.

Each employee specializes in a certain field: paving repairs (for 46 miles of township roads), sewers (inspection, cleaning, repairs, and installation), and maintaining the township building, five parks, and two open-space parks (60-plus acres). A part-time mechanic services 17 highway and police vehicles and seven leaf machines. With such a small group, cross training is vital. “We all learn as much as we can about each other’s jobs,” Dixon says.

The department strives to save time and money by bringing services in-house, such as using a special printer and sign machine to produce new street signs within minutes. This year, Assistant PW Director, Frank Freeman, saved thousands of dollars by devising a 750-gallon brine system and two brine applicators that mount on existing vehicles.

For the past 15 years, the department has generated $30,000-35,000 annually by collecting and composting leaves, and then selling the mulch. The township splits the land lease and equipment expenses with nearby Swarthmore.

“We have one of the hardest working crews around,” says Dixon. “Our township manager and board of commissioners really appreciate our efforts. And we even get compliments from residents.”