Awards

For more than 30 years, the APWA-MN Chapter has sponsored an annual Awards Program that recognizes excellence in public works. In addition, the chapter actively supports the APWA Awards Program with multiple submissions to the annual national awards program.

Learn more about awards and winners in the tabbed section below.

Chapter Awards

Superintendent of the Year

Linda Mullen
Linda Mullen

APWA-MN Chapter's 2020 Superintendent of the Year is awarded to Linda Mullen, Sewer and Water Utilities Superintendent, City of Burnsville.

Ryan Peterson, City of Burnsville Public Works Director, writes...

"Linda Mullen had worked her way up the ladder in the sewer and water industry in Apple Valley from meter reader, to sewer cleaner to, in her words, head turd herder at the City of Apple Valley from 1989-2009. The superintendent job opened up at neighboring Burnsville at that time and she felt she had to give it a run and see what happens. Luckily for Burnsville, she applied, was the best candidate and was hired, but her first couple of years weren’t what some might call an “easy transition.” You see, the City of Burnsville had received public and private funding to add a surface water treatment plant to its current groundwater plant to utilize water that was being pumped directly into the Minnesota River and was working on the plans for its construction. Before she finished her second year, the new plant was online, what she didn’t know was that the worst (or best, depending upon if you are a utility superintendent or a microorganism) conditions existed for a ripe algae bloom right at that time. Burnsville was developing this wonderful, environmentally beneficial surface water treatment plant that…makes everyone’s water taste and smell like fish. Here was Linda, still getting her legs under her and she was trying to explain why Burnsville changed our drinking water. It is difficult to talk about the environmental benefits of saving 4 Million Gallons of water a day, when people’s coffee smells like algae. Linda could have withered and said it was too much to handle, but she rolled up sleeves, managed the public outreach by preaching patience, worked with experts to remove the algae short term and implemented permanent measures long term and now we have this wonderful asset that has allowed the aquifers in Burnsville to actually rebound through the years, while still allowing people to drink their morning coffee with the tap water! "

Congratulations Linda!

Project of the Year

City of Fridley - Civic Center Campus
City of Fridley - Civic Center Campus

APWA-MN Chapter 2020 Project of the Year Award is presented to the City of Fridley for its Fridley Civic Campus project. Owner - City of Fridley; Designer - GVK Group, Oertel Architects, and Wenck Associates; Contractor - McGough Construction. See Fridley's award submittal here

In addition, the Awards Committee selected two Project of the Year Award - Honorable Mentions. 

Project of the Year, Honorable Mention – CSAH 21 Downtown Prior Lake Improvements. Owner – City of Prior Lake; Designer – Bolton & Menk, Inc.; and Contractor – S.M. Hentges & Sons, Inc.

View the YouTube video here

Project of the Year, Honorable Mention – Levee Park Dock Improvements. Owner – City of Red Wing; Designer – Kimley Horn & Associates; and Contractor – Meyer Contracting

View the project presentation here.

Director or Manager of the Year

John Olson
John Olson

The 2020 Public Works Manager of the Year award is presented to John Olson, Public Works Manager, City of Hutchinson.

Kent Exner, Public Works Director/City Engineer, City of Hutchinson, writes...

"John has been an integral part of the City of Hutchinson Public Works Department since 1997. During his time at the city, he has pioneered a variety of improvements to existing processes, championed new innovative services, continuously works to develop his skills, and supports the growth/development of those around him.  

After many years of employment, John continues to address issues and opportunities head-on, implements innovative approaches, and improves efficiencies whenever possible. He maintains an open mind to solutions and continuously strives to provide first-class service to the community while ensuring that the public’s perception of Public Works as a whole is positive and enlightened. John is currently the City of Hutchinson Public Works Manager and is solely responsible for administering and operating many City facilities/programs/services which include the Hutchinson Area Transportation Services (HATS) facility, water distribution, wastewater collection, forestry, stormwater collection/treatment, streets/alleys, sidewalks/trails, cemetery, airport, mosquito control, snow/ice removal, leaf collection, street lighting, and various Public Works Department related buildings and equipment fleets.   

Embracing evolving products and processes has been one of John’s trademarks while working for the City of Hutchinson. His leadership in innovation has allowed the Public Works Department to continue providing a high level of service while maintaining a very cost-effective staffing level. This approach has resulted in the City adding entirely new services, such as mosquito control and leaf collection, at a minimal cost to City taxpayers. The City’s overall approach to Public Works is like a complex, synchronized machine that John is always tuning to make it run as proficiently as possible. He is always mindful of the available resources to do the necessary work and is diligent in ensuring that associated expenditures are justified/defendable and fair to the citizens of Hutchinson. On this note, John utilizes his extensive finance background to prepare and monitor the budgets for the variety of established City Public Works Departments (Engineering, Streets/Alleys, Water, Wastewater, Stormwater, Cemetery, Airport, HATS). 

Furthermore, John has a unique ability to put evolving Public Works practices onto paper. He has been largely responsible for the development of many of our Public Works operating procedures, policies, inventories, and tracking mechanisms. These cover the spectrum of nearly all things related to Public Works. He is second to no one when documenting the how and why our department does what it does under his constant leadership, the City of Hutchinson Public Works Department would not be nearly as efficient or effective as it is today.  

Evidence suggests that learning is foundational to John’s professional growth. A bachelor’s degree in business management, certificate in accounting, government finance courses, and a number of various APWA training sessions have spanned his expansive career. He continues to engage in learning opportunities like Smart Salting, Snowplow Seminars, LMCIT Loss Control Workshops, and many APWA trainings that he fits into his busy schedule.  

John has been an active member of APWA-MN since 1999. He has served in various roles for the local chapter over the years and was recently the Outstate Director during the 2018-2019 term. His leadership qualities are woven throughout both his personal and professional life. He not only works diligently to continue to improve who he is as a manager, leader, citizen and person but also is extremely willing to share his experiences with others so they too can continue to learn and improve."  

Congratulations John!

Environmental Stewardship Award

City of Eden Prairie - Sustainable Eden Prairie
City of Eden Prairie - Sustainable Eden Prairie

Sustainable Eden Prairie is an ongoing effort focusing on education and implementation of sustainable practices to protect the environment and natural resources the Eden Prairie community enjoys. Sustainable Eden Prairie has four areas of concentration – energy, landscape, waste, and water. The City of Eden Prairie’s goal is to lead by example, creating a foundation for residents and businesses to carry out sustainable practices in all four focus areas. Through Sustainable Eden Prairie, we can ensure that the natural environment our community values is preserved for future generations.

Learn more about this project here

Public Works Employee of the Year

Jary Lee
Jary Lee

2020 Public Works Employee of the Year – Jary Lee

Nick Peterson, Division Manager and Assistant City Engineer, City of St. Paul, writes:

"It was easy to nominate Jary, as my time with him over the past few years got me wondering – how could I recognize someone who has given so much to his work? It was even easier when three other people asked the same question, and suggested APWA recognition. 

Following suit, I recommended Jary Lee for an APWA award. Jary serves as our Sidewalk Unit Supervisor and provides lifecycle project management and others engineering services, in addition to serving as a busy father and husband. Jary works in our Street Engineering Division of Public Works where we have had one seriously busy year. We were so busy that I wanted to nominate multiple staff. But one story that really brings his nomination to the forefront relates to his commitment to serving the public.

Jary became the project manager for our Ayd Mill Road Project, which became one of those extra full-time jobs for Jary. I’m ashamed of myself for be able to say this, but I learned that Jary’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day. I learned this because when urgent issues arose on one February 14th, I told Jary to go home. He said no because he was committed to working through a sensitive, critical issue. I said he should be home with his family, and he said he wasn’t worried about Valentine’s Day. It was his birthday cake at home that worried him. He stayed until about 9 p.m. with me on his birthday, on Valentine’s Day, and refused to go home. I even packed his stuff up for him and told him he is going home. He refused and took care of everything and all was well.

Somehow stars got misaligned and the same project unexpectedly required attention – on the same day. I again asked him to go home and he again refused. I again lambasted him and packed up his stuff to get him to go home and he refused. What manager wants to have angry staff families out there? So, this example of public works dedication again got the job done, staying until what I think was 9 p.m. on his birthday for a second year in a row, leaving me with a very guilty conscience.

While I’m not proud of my ability to tell this story, I offer it as a good example of Jary’s commitment.

Thank you for supporting Jary and all PW employees through the annual recognition program."

Hugo G. Erickson Award

Kristin Asher
Kristin Asher

City of Richfield

This year's Hugo G. Erickson Award goes to Kristin Asher, Public Works Director/City Engineer, City of Richfield.

Kristin is a key and influential member of the public works community. She demonstrates time and time again that it's all about the opportunities and the partnerships through the successful completion of projects with the consensus from the residents and local and state governmental entities.
 
One of Kristin's strengths is that she is not afraid to challenge the norm and look for new ways to make a positive impact. Examples include:
  • Successful completion of a major sewer replacement project through collaboration with over eight agencies and many stakeholders.
  • Convinced her city council of the importance of using Street Reconstruction Bonds to fund essentially the replacement of all roadways within the city. Selling the message to the residents was a huge undertaking and wildly successful. The award-winning "Sweet Streets" project became a reality under the guiding principles of multimodal design, connectivity in the public realm, local economy, design for people, community character and identity, sustainable solutions, health and active lifestyles, and unique location.

Congratulations Kristin!

National Awards

Presidential Award for Chapter Excellence

Minnesota Chapter

The Minnesota Chapter proudly accepted its 16th Presidential Award for Chapter Excellence (PACE) Award

The Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association is highly involved and active Chapter. In 2019, our Chapter continued to grow in member opportunities. Our total membership in December of 2019 was 1,039. 

The Minnesota Chapter is very proud to have received six national APWA awards in 2019, including the 2019 PACE Award! This adds to the many national awards our Chapter members have received previously, as well as a strong local awards program, all of which are discussed in our submittal.

In 2019, the Minnesota Chapter continued to see more member volunteerism and outreach in educating the public about the value of Public Works. The Chapter continued its support of young professionals in their student outreach through the establishment of Student Chapters at the University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas, and Minnesota State University. In addition, the Chapter continued participation in several outreach activities and STEM events, educating others on Public Works and how it relates to their quality of life. The Executive Committee believes that these efforts help to better serve our members and our profession, both now and into the future.

The Minnesota Chapter of APWA continues to provide valuable opportunities for members to be involved, gain continuing education, network with their peers through committee work, chapter outreach, semi-annual conferences, technical tours, etc. The Executive Committee strives to provide exceptional value for chapter members through their desired experience with the Chapter. 

Public Works Project of the Year, Historical Restoration/Preservation - $5 Million, but less than $25 Million

City of Minneapolis

The City of Minneapolis, along with Meyer Contracting (contractor) and Stantec (consultant) received the Project of the Year Award - Historic Restoration/Preservation ($5 Million, but less than $25 Million) project.

Just west of downtown Minneapolis and the Mississippi River lies the historic North Loop District. In its original heyday, it was home to a billion-dollar wholesale industry and its associated factories, warehouses, and railyards. However, with the modernization of distribution practices by the automobile and the economic impact from The Great Depression, this once-thriving neighborhood experienced a decline that didn’t start fully transitioning until the Target Field development (home of the Minnesota Twins) attracted activity back to the area. 

This transition from factory to fashionable didn’t happen overnight. Pivotal to revitalization was the ability for infrastructure to effectively serve the area without infringing on its historic character. 

In the spring of 2010, the City of Minneapolis began to develop the Warehouse District Heritage Street Plan. In 2011, the Warehouse District Heritage Street Plan was approved by the North Loop Neighborhood Association and the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission.

The city, along with its consultant, Stantec, reached a preferred design for each heritage street and outlined a possible funding and implantation plan. A task force made up of people with expertise and interest in the historic district guided the city and its consultants throughout the process. Today the North Loop is one of the trendiest and fastest-growing commercial and residential neighborhoods in the Twin Cities.

Professional Manager of the Year - Water Resources

Steve Klein

Steve Klein, Vice President, Barr Engineering Company, received APWA's Professional Manager of the Year Award in Water Resources.

Steve has 45 years of experience in stormwater management, urban and rural water resources management, water supply, hydrologic and hydraulic analysis, water quality analysis, and forensic engineering—serving municipalities, counties, watershed districts, water management organizations, soil and water conservation districts, state and federal agencies, and private industry. He is a professional engineer licensed in 16 U.S. states and the province of Alberta,  Canada. He is also certified as a professional hydrologist with the American Institute of Hydrology. In addition to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering, Steve holds a master’s degree in business administration.

Steve's contributions have spanned the advancement of water resources management to solve today's complex water management problems in ways that serve the future; provides extensive service to municipalities and counties; and innovative in developing state-of-the-art technologies in construction site erosion, sediment control practices, and sustainability. His leadership and innovation have led to several award-winning projects. In addition, Steve makes a significant effort to advance the profession and is a requested guest speaker at many conferences and seminars held by APWA and other professional organizations.

Steve's greatest accomplishment involves his customer service skills testified by his long-term client and community relationships.

Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year

Kristin Asher

Kristin Asher, Director of Public Works, City of Richfield, received the APWA Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year Award. This award recognizes the outstanding career service achievements of individual public works professionals. Hear APWA's President William Spearman's interview with Kristin here.

Kristin is a key and influential member of the public works community. She demonstrates time and time again that it's all about the opportunities and the partnerships through the successful completion of projects with the consensus from the residents and local and state governmental entities.
 
One of Kristin's strengths is that she is not afraid to challenge the norm and look for new ways to make a positive impact. Examples include: (1) successful completion of a major sewer replacement project through collaboration with over eight agencies and many stakeholders; and (2) convinced her city council of the importance of using Street Reconstruction Bonds to fund essentially the replacement of all roadways within the city. Selling the message to the residents was a huge undertaking and wildly successful. The award-winning "Sweet Streets" project became a reality under the guiding principles of multimodal design, connectivity in the public realm, local economy, design for people, community character and identity, sustainable solutions, health and active lifestyles, and unique location.

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