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Outstate Committee Update

September 4, 2018

Outstate Committee Update
By John Olson, APWA-MN Chapter Director-Outstate
 
The Minnesota Chapter’s Outstate Committee is made of:
 
  • Reid Wronski, Chair, City of River Falls, WI
  • Troy Nemmers, City of Fairmont
  • Brad DeWolf, Bolton & Menk, Inc.
  • John Rodeberg, SEH
  • Jeremy Mathiasen, Stantec
  • John Olson, City of Hutchinson
  • Chris LaBounty, Young Professionals Committee, City of Minnetonka
 
The Outstate Committee was established to promote APWA membership and more importantly, to connect outstate public works professionals in a meaningful way. For outstate APWA members, geography itself can sometimes create challenges to meeting with other public works professionals on a regular basis. Many outstate members are alone in smaller communities or are within small clusters of members in or near outstate regional centers. 
 
One example of building and maintaining meaningful connections is what has happened in River Falls, WI. For the last six years, River Falls has hosted an annual regional meeting each fall. The meeting is attended by seven western Wisconsin cities and two eastern Minnesota cities. When these folks get together, of course, there are some topics of discussion addressed. However, the greatest benefit of these meetings is the relationships that have been established. These relationships provide benefits throughout the year, making it much easier to pick up the phone, send an email, or shoot a text to reach out for help with a particular project or problem.
 
In other outstate districts, this model or a hybrid of this model is being considered. Later this year, a regional meeting is planned for the Fairmont area, with a list of 25 possible invitees from cities in the area with a population greater than 2,000. In the Hutchinson area, the proposal is to host an upcoming Click-Listen-Learn event for city staff, other public works professionals, and consulting engineers’ staff.
 
There are efforts at outstate colleges in Duluth, St. Cloud and Mankato to engage young professionals. As work has been done in these areas, there may be opportunities to partner with other organizations to reach out to engineering students and connect them with APWA. An example of the work being done includes a recent tour of the Fairmont water treatment plant attended by 15 students from Minnesota State-Mankato.
 
As work continues to connect outstate members and provide them with opportunities that provide value in their work as public works professionals, the Outstate Committee is always open to having new folks join the team. Support from APWA-MN has been excellent, and is much appreciated.
 
If you are interested in participating in the regional meetings or joining the Outstate Committee, contact Reid Wronski, rwronski@rfcity.org, or John Olson, jolson@ci.hutchinson.mn.us.

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