It takes a special person to climb 12’ down into a hole, crawl through half-frozen mud, while ½ ton sections of pipe swing overhead and only narrow trench boxes stand between them and the weight of thousands of cubic yards of soil. But that’s exactly what Public Service employees do. The work is done with little fanfare. There are few parades or medals for these acts of everyday courage; they are done out of a sense of duty, honor and pride. These unheralded sacrifices don’t make the headlines; instead they just quietly go about their business of putting the community on their backs to reach its goals.
Problems can be tough. Customers can be frustrating; the work demanding; money tight; schedules unrealistic; weather conditions bad and gratitude rare.
So why do it?
That’s a question each employee and the organization has to answer together. It is this “Why” that guides us through good times and bad. It’s our shared values.
The work can pull us in thousands of directions but our values keep us heading due north. Values connect us to one another and to the community we serve. It’s our higher purpose that unites us no matter how different our uniforms, work hours or duties.
Daily aggravations and sacrifices grow smaller when we remember our “Why.” When we remember that we build and repair sewer and water lines because before we did more people died from dysentery than anything else. We remember that when roads aren’t safe, more mothers and children will die in car accidents. When storms rage, homebound grandmothers need help and Public Service makes sure it gets there.
Public Service is a profession of people with such strong values that they are willing to put themselves into extreme situations because they care about people and put community needs first.
There’s a special pride knowing you’re the “line in the sand” between safety and harm for 27,000 people that call Kent home.
That’s why they do it.
Fearless in the line of duty: Police, Fire – and yes, Public Service.
National occupational health and safety figures for on-the-job injuries and fatalities rank construction and street maintenance employees at the top of the list for high risk professions – even higher than either Police or Fire. Yet outside of the employees that work in the trenches few people appreciate the dangers in the work of Public Service.
Public Service is a full contact sport. Whether it’s climbing 60’ up to remove dead tree limbs, squeezing down manholes to clear debris stuck in sewer lines, or descending into failing underground pump stations that are half submerged in human waste and water with electric circuits exposed – it is not for the faint hearted. Nor is it for the unprepared.
Public Service employees are not headline hunters, they’re problem solvers. If it’s broke, they climb in and fix it without giving it a second thought. They’re heroes in hardhats whose courage is easily overlooked because it is dressed in coveralls and looks too much like work to be heroic.
Wherever people are and whenever they need us, Public Service is there for them. It’s employees that go where others won’t go because it has to get done and they’re first in line to help.
It’s selfless acts – not for glory’s sake – but for the sake of knowing that you’re a person who has what it takes, and the guts to use it.
True heroism isn’t found in glory received, it’s found in humble acts of service to others that depend on us to do what we do best.
This little Ode to Public Service Workers was prompted by some information our Public Service Director sent me about a problem we’re having with a leak in our raw water intake line. We’ll be having that line repaired this week. Here’s Gene’s description of the problem.
“The main 24-inch raw water transmission main is leaking under State Route 261 inside of a casing pipe. The leak was discovered over the week end and identified as ground water yesterday during exploratory excavation. Today both ends of the casing pipe were uncovered exposing both the casing pipe and the carrier pipe (raw water main). Both ends of the casing pipe are plugged with concrete thus preventing major loss of water (see image ). Currently the raw water main is operating at 15-psi but typically operates at 20-psi which equates to some flow loss resulting in longer pump run times to transmit the same volume of water.
Staff has discussed this necessary repairs and we are in agreement that we do not have the equipment to pull 80 plus feet of 24-inch water main out of the casing pipe so to that end we will need to hire a contractor. I have talked with DDD Enterprises, Inc. and they will be meeting us tomorrow at 10:00 am.
We will be installing a 24-inch isolation valve east of the break which will allow the Well No. 12 to operate during the time it takes to make the necessary repairs. The second effort will be to pull the 24-inch water main out of the casing pipe and then install new pipe and connect with dresser or rigid sleeve couplings.
This work will take place off the public roadway so no traffic delays are expected. With the installation of the new 24-inch valve we do not anticipate any water service interruptions. No boil order alerts will be necessary as the water main broken is before the plant and is not connected to our finished water supply.”
In celebration of all the unsung public service workers, the American Public Works Association has announced the week of May 18th to be national public works week, so if you see your Public Service workers between now and then give them a pat on the back and say thanks for all they do for Kent.