City schools celebrate Public Works Week

By Brandi Makuski

The Stevens Point Public Works Department doesn’t usually get much in the way attention unless something is broken or wrong.

One city employee is hoping to change that with an annual open house for local fourth graders. The event was housed in the water department’s new utility garage, home to the state’s largest roof-mounted solar array, which opened in March.

Tricia Church, a secretary in the city’s public works department, organized a two-day event at the water department’s new utility garage, inviting several local elementary schools to attend. Students heard about everything from bicycle helmet and seat-belt usage to the function of the water department and had a chance to climb inside several municipal vehicles belonging to public works, and the Stevens Point police and fire departments.

“We’re going to make this an annual event for fourth graders, but this is the first year we’re doing this,” Church said. “It’s a great way to get the kids involved and make them more aware of what public works does.”

On Wednesday, City Forester Todd Ernster talked to the students about the Tree City program and handed out tree seedlings. Police were on hand to showcase their armored vehicle, and firefighters showed off their rescue boat—the Ice Angel—an ambulance and their new fire engine.

Luke Kronstedt, superintendent of streets construction/maintenance, even spent a few hours showing students one of the department’s snowplows, explaining how drivers work to clear snow-covered streets.

The theme of 2019 National Public Works Week is “It Starts Here”, with the idea that most aspects of a city or town originate, or are maintained by, a public works department.

Church said the department plans to hold the open house for students every May.