This week is National Public Works Week across the country. Yep, tucked in between Pack Rat Day on May 17th and Frog Jumping Jubilee Day on May 19th, you’ll find a whole week dedicated to the services provided by cities all over the nation. (And yes, I looked those other two holidays up on the internet, so you KNOW they are absolutely legit.) The week is sponsored by the American Public Works Association. Before I worked for a municipality, like most I would never have known that Public Works were celebrated in such a way. But working at the City of O’Fallon, we not only observe this week, we celebrate it in a big way.
This past Wednesday, O’Fallon held the annual Public Works Fair, where they bring out all the big trucks and equipment for kids to look at up-close. They can operate the trash truck arm, sit in the seats of equipment like the big snowplow dump trucks, paint stripers and even play Red Light Green Light with a traffic signal. There’s a small train that’s part of the Krekel House, a local historic home owned by the city, that gives kids and adults short train rides around the parking lot. The Water and Sewer Department has cool displays that show how the water towers operate and our Stormwater Coordinator gives educational demonstrations about keeping storm sewers clean. Our city even gives out free hot dogs, chips, cookies and water during the fair. It’s a pretty cool event that I’ve gotten to work the last few years, and I love how appreciative the residents and visitors are when they come through. We see area day care centers and school kids come through year after year that seem to truly enjoy the event.
In truth, before I worked for the city, I never realized all the things the city does to make life pleasant—and safe—for the residents. I knew they plowed the streets during the snow and picked up the trash and recycling, but there are truly a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that people generally don’t think of when it comes to civic government. I know people like to gripe about the government at all levels (guilty!) but it’s nice to know that I live and work somewhere that aims to improve residents’ experiences in our community. It’s just one of those things that when it is seamless and not really noticeable, you realize someone must be doing a good job somewhere.
And no, before you ask, I didn’t send this post to my boss. Enjoy where you live!