APWA Michigan Chapter President’s Message - ....

I am truly honored to be starting this 2018-2019 term as the President of the APWA Michigan Chapter. Having just wrapped up our 2018 Great Lakes Expo (GLX) at Grand Traverse Resort, I am looking forward to serving all the members of this great organization for the next year. For those who do not know me, I am one of the Vice Presidents at Hubbell, Roth, Clark, Inc., where I have been employed since I graduated in December 1997. I graduated from the University of Michigan with a BSE in Civil & Environmental Engineering and am a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan. I’ve been an APWA member for over 16 years and have worked closely with many municipalities and public works departments over these years. I’ve enjoyed learning more about the public works-end of things, having mostly been involved in the engineering/design end for most of my early years.   

I am fortunate to have an engaged and passionate Executive Committee to work with. With the help of this group, and the efforts of all our members, I expect another great year of educational opportunities and events. I am looking forward to meeting with all the branches throughout the state as I begin this year as President. It is important to maintain this connection between the state chapter and our local branches and members.  I also enjoy learning more about operations, maintenance, equipment, and other aspects of public works from all my friends in this organization.  

I’d like to thank James Hurt, and all our Past Presidents, for their efforts and dedication to this organization. Without their leadership and guidance, we would not be in the great position we are in. I believe that the public works field is at a crossroads right now. We are working diligently to shape our public perception and considering new and exciting opportunities to educate others in the field. It is essential that we promote and educate the true values and meaning of public works wherever we can. From failing roadways to compromised water systems, we continue to battle negative news stories while we try and promote what public works really means. Unfortunately, stories about the good things we do does not sell as much as negative stories. This is a reality that we can change. 

We often focus on membership and messaging as we move forward into a new year. My goal is to see increased membership again this year, but my hope is that is secondary to my mission. I intend to work closely with the Executive Committee and all our volunteer groups to submit for the PACE Award through National APWA. This award recognizes Chapters that are following the core principles of APWA and taking the added steps needed to bring the Chapter to the next level. This Award submittal is a major effort and very time consuming, but it will be well worth the effort. It includes a detailed list of best practices recommended by National. In the end, these items center around promoting APWA, positive messaging, and training and support for members. 

To accomplish this goal, we will be forming a PACE Award Committee. We are also forming a Past Presidents Committee this year. These groups, working closely with our volunteer and membership groups, will support most efforts needed to prepare this award submittal. Our Chapter has a substantial task list to complete to be eligible for the PACE award. Individually, the tasks on this list will strengthen our Chapter, improve our image and messaging, and hopefully increase our membership in the end. I encourage all our members to think about volunteering some time to help at your branch or state chapter level. Feel free to contact me directly if you would like to become more involved.

Moving forward this year, I am very excited to continue the great programs that our branches and chapter provide. Next year Treetops Resort will be hosting our GLX and we look forward to a new partnership after several years at Grand Traverse Resort. We also intend to build off of the first Public Works Academy that was recently held at Grand Rapids Community College. If you have not heard of this academy, I would encourage you to do so, or just ask me sometime. This great program provided entry-level training for those looking to enter a public works field. As many of you know, losing experience and talented employees, with very few people entering the field, is becoming a major problem in public works. I am hoping to start a similar program with other local community colleges. We will also continue our MPSI, MAPSI and fleet & operations training this year. 

In addition to our prior programs, we are also exploring new opportunities this year that will provide much needed training to public works staff. Please watch for new information on these programs as we begin to roll them out. We truly believe these programs will help all our public works partners by providing training to new staff and more complex opportunities for current experienced staff.

In summary, I am very honored and excited to lead our Chapter this next year. We all share a passion for public works and I encourage you to engage and volunteer. We need everyone’s help to promote and improve public works this year. In 16 years as an APWA member, and the last 10 years on the branch and chapter boards, I have met so many new friends and formed great relationships with people all over the state. As your President, I intend to pay it all back by visiting and engaging our local branches and putting in the effort required to continue building our Chapter to be one of the best in the Country.

Charles Hart

MI-APWA Chapter President

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