“State-of-the-Art” is keyword at 2002 APWA Congress
More than 5,000 public works professionals gathered in Kansas City, Mo., to learn about state-of-the-art management techniques and see millions of dollars worth of high-tech equipment, vehicles, tools and services. Spread across more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, the American Public Works Association's (APWA) 2002 International Public Works Congress and Exposition, held Sept. 22-25, was one of the largest public works exhibitions held in the last decade.
Over 500 exhibitors at the Kansas City Convention Center drew crowds offering up-close looks and hands-on inspections of gigantic pieces of earth-pushing, snow-removing and road-building equipment used by public works departments throughout the world. Demonstrations of the latest techniques in peering inside a sewer system, providing clean water, managing public fleets and using the World Wide Web as a management tool were also offered.
More than 200 technical, professional, and educational sessions were held with topics ranging from how to be an effective advocate for public works to community outreach strategies. It was obvious by the most popular choices that public works professionals are aware of the need to practice state-of-the-art management techniques; to be outspoken advocates for investment in infrastructure; and to know and use the latest computer technology.
Presenting the keynote address at the Opening General Session Sept. 22 was Homer Hickam, former aerospace engineer with NASA and currently a full-time author. With his best-selling memoir, October Sky, and the critically-acclaimed movie of the same name, Hickam captivated the world with his powerful story of perseverance and following one's passion. Fans of the book and movie have been inspired by how this native son of Coalwood, W. Va., pursued his fascination with rocketry and the race into outer space all the way to his career with NASA.
Also at the Opening General Session, Peter Montalbano, first deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation, received the 2002 APWA Special Award of Merit. Montalbano had oversight responsibilities for the Department of Sanitation Sept. 11, 2001, and was responsible for overseeing the department's response to the attack on the World Trade Center, including the disposal of tons of debris from the Ground Zero site and at the Fresh Kills Landfill.
Following the Opening General Session, APWA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) establishing a formal relationship between APWA and FEMA. The MOU will provide the framework for increased awareness and understanding of the key role that public works professionals play in disaster mitigation, preparedness, and recovery.
Wednesday evening, Sept. 25, was the final conference event when more than 500 attendees gathered at the Kansas City Marriott's Imperial and Colonial Ballrooms. Incoming APWA President Martin J. Manning, former APWA presidents and the new APWA Board of Directors were introduced to the attendees.
In President Manning's speech to the gathering, he mentioned how proud he is to be associated with public works professionals. “We are fortunate to be able to continue the APWA tradition of service to the public,” he said. “Our own American Public Works Association and its value to you and your community are what we make it. Each of you can lend a hand as we increase in wisdom and in stature.”
Also during the banquet, Texas State Senator Florence Shapiro accepted APWA's Distinguished Service Award. Shapiro was selected for the award due to her long-standing support for maintaining and upgrading America's public infrastructure and her overall commitment as a prominent public works leader.
About the American Public Works Association (APWA)
The American Public Works Association is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 26,000 members involved in the field of public works. APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy and the exchange of knowledge. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and also maintains an office in Washington, D.C.
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