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President's Message

June 26, 2016

President's Message

By Sue Mason, APWA-MN President

For those who have never attended our MN Chapter APWA Spring Conference, it is a special conference worth going to and I encourage you to go! The conference planning committee produces a great program, with an emphasis on supervisor/manager level topics. Spring Conference is so much more than just a conference, it is a chance to retreat from the daily grind for a few days, check up on your friends and colleagues, meet new people and learn something new at the same time. I am thinking we should just call it Spring Camp. (The only things missing are arts and crafts.)

Here are a few highlights:

This year, the evening session was all about driverless cars – or autonomous cars. The speaker made a good argument for driverless cars being a reality in the next 10 to 20 years, similar to the seemingly quick advances made in the last century from horses to automobiles. The movement toward real applications are already happening; in the cars we drive today, those that are being developed and in airplanes that pilot themselves. He believes that safety is going to drive the advancement. I think a great application would be to have cars go “hands free” in construction work zones‑the ability to automate the zipper merge and monitor speed to provide better traffic flow could generate a great safety benefit for both drivers and workers.

The next day was two separate sessions on how to “show up” – a discussion about how our attitudes and personal barriers can influence our ability to be successful. The speaker, Dr. Kimberly Miller, provided great information on how we can deliberately improve ourselves by investigating our self-beliefs, working on changing our mindset and improving our story to become the person we would like to be. A compelling question she left for us was, “Are people glad to see you go, or longing for your return?” She challenged us to actively plan our own future.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

This year was the first ever service project. We had a great turnout – 50 plus people gathered at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gull Lake Recreational Area to help them fix the split rail fence. The Gull Lake Campground was ground zero last year when 100 mph winds hit the area causing millions of dollars in damage to the shores of Gull Lake. The recreation area stayed closed for almost one year, facing a lot of damage with most of their mature trees down. Thanks to multitudes of volunteers like our Chapter, the Gull Lake Dam and Recreation Area is open to the public again this year and we can proud to have been a part of it. With so many volunteers, the work was a breeze and completed in no time! The park rangers were very appreciative and in true public works fashion, we had fun getting something done. We hope to find other service projects in the future and start a new tradition.

Reid Wronski, our Chapter’s Outstate Director, attended for the first time this spring. Reid had this to share: “The conference and setting is a perfect balance of professional development, service, and networking, and I am already looking forward to attending next spring’s conference.”

We hope to see you all next year!

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