Fall Conference

The APWA-MN Fall Conference is held each November in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The two-day conference is focused on technical education and offers hours towards professional continuing education requirements. Winners of the APWA-MN chapter awards and recipients of chapter scholarships are announced and recognized during the fall conference. 

The 2016 Fall Conference was another success with over 500 participants.

This year’s opening included a recap of PWX 2016 held this past August in Minneapolis. We watched an excellent video which captured and highlighted the energy of event. The Chapter has yet again, set the bar high for future conferences. Many thanks went out to sponsors and exhibitors in addition to Angela and Jeannine, conference co-chairs, the various committee chairs and members and the hundreds of volunteers. It was noted that there was enough in-state volunteer assistance to eliminate a need to request out-of-state volunteers. Way to step up!

The opening speaker was none other than Teddy Roosevelt (also known as Adam Lindquist of Big Stick Marketing). He shared life and leadership lessons of this great figure from our country’s history. The lessons are certainly nothing new, but good reminders from time to time are essential. Some thoughts to remember:

  • “The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything” – T.R.
  • Leadership is behavior, not position.
  • T.R. Sr. provided the following advice when T.R. went off to school: Prioritize these three things in the following order:
    • Morals - without mental and emotional health, all else will suffer
    • Health - take care of yourself physically, too
    • Studies - then focus on the task(s) at hand
  • “Nobody cares what you know until they know how much you care” – T.R.

Next, Dr. Marla Spivak described issues facing our bee populations. A 2014-2015 data set shows more than 51% decline in MN bee population. This topic is important to all of us as bees play an integral role in vegetation production (food and other natural resources). The message was not that the use of herbicides, insecticides and other chemicals should be eliminated, but that the “drift” of them onto pollen-carrying plants nearby should be controlled. Another message is the consideration of native, flowering plant integration into landscapes versus rolling lawns of plain, green, useless-to-bees grass.

Prior to lunch was the presentation of scholarship and awards recipients. New this year was the attendance of the scholarship recipients. What a great way to help introduce the next generation of the industry to our organization!  Additional awards information can be found on the Chapter website.

Special Note: The Public Works Certificate Program includes five instructors. At the time of the awards, there were two positions to be filled as a result of the departure of Paul Backer and Gary Brown. Correspondence has since come out that indicates one position remains.

The afternoon presented many interesting concurrent sessions including topics such as winter time maintenance and wastewater issues. The big hit was a packed presentation by Special Agent Charles Burnham of the FBI. He presented a number of criminal, fraud cases. The grand finale included a case regarding a local contractor from a few years ago. The details were shocking and quite interesting.

This year’s carnival-themed networking event was a success, having worked out some of the bugs from last year’s event. Again, this event helped raise funds for the U.S. Marine’s Toys for Tots campaign. This year, the goal of $2,000 was beat as you generously gave $2,650! As a vendor at the carnival event, I want to say that the event was a success! We had much better interaction with those attending, and the atmosphere was very fun and festive.

Friday opened with a great presentation on the current water supply situation. Jason Moeckel (DNR) informed us that there are areas across the state where groundwater supply is actually up! Randy Ellingboe (MDH) reminded us that the forecasted cost of water supply improvements is great. We also received an update from Mark Maloney (City of Shoreview) regarding the recently appointed TAC membership. This TAC, deemed an imperative necessity by industry leaders, was created last year to inform the MAWSAC.

Scott McBride provided the MnDOT update with some interesting information regarding their upcoming projects and closures. Bonus: the new, uniform Minnesota agencies logo was shared.

The MN2050 Update given by Dan Gage and John Maczko included some upcoming opportunities:

After the Business Meeting and Swearing in of the Officers, Bridget Rief presented on MSP’s $1 Billion in projects that began this year. The projects will continue four more years and include expansion of Terminal 1, a new parking ramp and new hotel.

Following lunch was a Legislative Insight panel consisting of Margaret Donahoe (MN Transportation Alliance), David Montgomery (Pioneer Press) and Lori Sturdevant (Star Tribune). They shared their knowledge and opinions with regard to the impact of the recent election results as it pertains to our industry.

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s conference a success!

Submitted by:
Cristina Mlejnek – Member, Conference Planning Committee
Doug Trangsrud – Member, Conference Planning Committee
Jupe Hale - Co-chair, Conference Planning Committee

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