• Eight years after devising a system to produce 1,100 gallons of salt brine, Spring Grove blends up to 6,000 gallons of GeoMelt55 sugar beet juice with brine. The Illinois village has an anti-ice applicator and all trucks are pre-wet capable. “The program produces results on the street and for the budget, and we’ve proven it,” says Public Works Supervisor Matt Wittum.

    Credit: Village of Spring Grove

    Eight years after devising a system to produce 1,100 gallons of salt brine, Spring Grove blends up to 6,000 gallons of GeoMelt55 sugar beet juice with brine. The Illinois village has an anti-ice applicator and all trucks are pre-wet capable. “The program produces results on the street and for the budget, and we’ve proven it,” says Public Works Supervisor Matt Wittum.

Last month’s cover story caught the eye of at least two readers and one Facebook follower, proving once again what I tell anyone who’ll listen: Contrary to popular belief, “public works” is not three guys standing around watching a fourth guy shovel.

Tired of watching water operators take a shower whenever they fix a main? You could slap a sandbag on the break, but you’ll get hosed head-on as you climb down into the trench. Or, instead someone can stanch the spray from above while you descend with repair clamp and tools and in a relatively dry state.

Village of Hampton, Ill., (population 1,700; 750 water connections) Public Works Supervisor Scott McKay (309-738-4657) found a partner — Footage Tools Inc. of Ontario, Canada (www.footagetools.com or 888-737-3668; ask for Dan Ferguson) — to make and market his device: a metal “deflector shield” that’s curved to fit halfway around 4-, 6-, and 8-inch pipes. It is attached to a telescopic handle that adjusts from 6 to 12 feet. Problem solved; boil order averted. (For a price list and video demonstration, visit here.)

Not to be outdone by December cover subject Ken Kraus’ homemade brine application system, another Illinois public works supervisor wrote to say the Village of Spring Grove (population 5,800) has saved an estimated $30,000 in three years with a homemade anti-icing system. “We anti-ice for neighboring communities and I’ve helped others get started in simple systems,” says Matt Wittum (mwittum@springgrovevillage.com). “Even in these tough economic times, small communities can give residents excellent winter maintenance results.” (Check out "The one-two punch" for readers’ 2013 operations and capital spending plans.)

Indeed. Kraus is getting so much attention because of our coverage that Facebook follower John Horn, a road worker for New Jersey’s Washington Township, asked for a video explaining Kraus’ system. We'll let you know when it's available.

Just two more examples of how — in the words of third reader Larry Lux, an emergency response consultant — “public works people are truly the everyday heroes of municipal government." We wish you all the best as you provide yet another year of outstanding service despite many odds.

Eight years after devising a system to produce 1,100 gallons of salt brine, Spring Grove blends up to 6,000 gallons of GeoMelt55 sugar beet juice with brine. The Illinois village has an anti-ice applicator and all trucks are pre-wet capable. “The program produces results on the street and for the budget, and we’ve proven it,” says Public Works Supervisor Matt Wittum. Photo: Village of Spring Grove