Thursday, September 23, 2021

Former Public Works Employee Bill Hollings Named Star of Texas Recipient

Former City of Southlake Public Works employee Bill Hollings was named a Star of Texas recipient by Governor Greg Abbott.

Mr. Hollings, a traffic supervisor, passed away in August of 2020 due to his injuries from a July 2020 traffic accident believed to be caused by a drunk driver. At the time of the accident, he was aiding the Southlake Police Department in keeping an intersection safe after the traffic signals lost power.

Gov. Abbot present Star of Texas Award to Ms. Hollings

Governor Greg Abbot presents the Star of Texas award to Vivian Hollings on behalf of her late husband, Bill Hollings.

The Star of Texas Awards honor all Texas peace officers, firefighters, emergency medical first responders, and federal law enforcement officers who are seriously injured or lost in the line of duty. Private citizens who were seriously injured or passed away while aiding or attempting to aid a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency first responder in the performance of their duties are also eligible to receive a Star of Texas Award. Southlake Police Chief James Brandon nominated Mr. Hollings in the private citizen category.

“The City of Southlake is pleased that Bill could be honored in this way. He was devoted to his beautiful family and his faith. We are lucky to call him one of our own,” said Southlake City Manager Shana Yelverton.

Chief AshleighCasey with Ms. Hollings

Southlake Assistant Police Chief Ashleigh Casey with Vivian Hollings, wife of the late Southlake Public Works employee Bill Hollings who died while assisting the City’s traffic patrol in keeping an intersection safe after the traffic signals lost power.

Forty-six Texans were honored this year. Governor Abbott started the ceremony with remarks telling the families and audience: “We pray with gratitude for you and your families. The service of your loved ones will never be forgotten.”

The entire ceremony can be viewed here- https://control.resi.io/webplayer/video.html?id=a030e9e1-8d02-484b-ab74-56b50f7a3e50. Mr. Hollings’ family is seen accepting his Star of Texas Medal at 2:32:36.

Register for the DIY Rainwater Harvesting Workshop & Rain Barrel Sale

With the hottest months of summer coming up, why not learn how to sustainably help your landscape beat the heat? In conjunction with the Tarrant Regional Water District and Tarrant County Master Gardeners, the City of Southlake Public Works Department will host a virtual DIY Rainwater Harvesting Workshop. Rainwater harvesting is not only a great way to save money on your water bill, but it also helps conserve water. This is especially important in the summer when demand for water reaches its peak.

Open exclusively to Southlake residents, this 45-minute workshop will teach you the best tips and tricks on how to easily collect and utilize rainwater for your home. Registrants will be able to access the virtual presentation at their convenience from July 23rd to July 30th.

In addition to the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to purchase their own rain barrel at a discounted rate of only $25. There are a limited number of barrels, so be sure to register today and secure yours! Only one rain barrel per household. More details about when and where to pick up the barrels will be provided through email after registering.

For more information and to register for the event, visit https://southlakerwh.eventbrite.com.

To learn more about Tarrant Regional Water District and water conservation efforts in our region, visit https://savetarrantwater.com/.

Public Works Employee Spotlight: Alex Stroud

Every team has a great leader, and in the Public Works Department, one of those leaders is Alex Stroud.

In February, Stroud received the Director’s Award for Public Works as part of Employee Appreciation Week.

Stroud has served as a drainage crew leader in Public Works for over two years.

He maintains the public flow of stormwater throughout the City’s creeks, ditches and commercial structures, which helps protect residents and businesses from property damage caused by obstructed or damaged infrastructure and flooding.

He also investigates and manages customers concerns and drainage requests, as well as schedules and oversees in-house, routine and emergency maintenance projects.

Although his role is predominantly behind the scenes, Stroud keeps an ear out in the community with his outreach efforts.

He works with the Public Works Drainage Committee to gather data to find and craft solutions to resolve the most complex drainage issues the City faces.

“I frequently work with HOAs, residents, contractors, developers and engineers to find solutions that work for all parties fiscally and ethically in a way that best represents the values of our organization,” Stroud said.

Not only is Stroud dedicated to providing the community with world-class customer service, but he is also committed to his team.

“I’m always working to promote a positive and productive work atmosphere for our teams,” Stroud said. “I work to secure continuity of operation in our department by developing our operators and maintenance techs by making sure they receive adequate training opportunities on machinery and with administrative tasks and responsibilities.”

Stroud also revisits the crew’s job sites during the day to help move projects forward.

“If we’re shorthanded, I jump in to help,” he said. Apart from serving the community and leading the team, Stroud is proud to serve our community.

“There are so many factors and challenges involved in solving and rectifying stormwater drainage issues, and it’s personally very gratifying to meet the challenges along the journey. It’s rewarding for me when we leave residents thankful and happy with our service,” he said.

Public Works is the Building Block of Southlake

When it comes to providing a multitude of services from one central department, Public Works comes to mind.

The department plays a vital role in distributing services that contribute to the quality of life for our residents, businesses and visitors from quality infrastructure to water quality and mobility.

They also provide safety and security by taking protective measures to reduce infrastructure risk within the City of Southlake.

“Our professionals take great pride in serving the citizens of Southlake,” Director of Public Works Rob Cohen said. “We implement the Southlake standard when it comes to taking care of City’s infrastructure needs, maintaining mobility and providing our customers with safe drinking water. Our team is well-versed and trained; it is a true honor and privilege serving alongside our public works professionals.”

There are several divisions of Public Works that contribute to the health and safety our community: Environmental Services, Streets and Drainage, Wastewater, Water, Mobility, Facilities, Engineering and Administration.

All divisions are staffed with knowledgeable professionals who are dedicated to providing the Southlake community with world-class service by protecting the public’s interest and improving quality infrastructure.

The Environmental Services Division promotes environmental wellness through public awareness, resource conversation and programs. Their ultimate goal is to protect public health by utilizing regulatory programs in addition to public education to teach others how to utilize the environment’s natural resources through storm water management, as well as Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) and water conservation programs.

The Streets and Drainage Division maintains the City’s infrastructure including roadways, stormwater infrastructure, and sidewalks. They oversee 209 miles of streets and 36 miles of drainage ditches, gutters, street curbs and medians. This division is often the first division called to assist first responders with blocked roadways from flooding, downed trees, debris or other disaster relief.

The Wastewater Division manages the daily operations of Southlake’s sewer system. They repair and perform preventative maintenance on over 200 miles of wastewater pipeline in addition to 13 lift stations. Staff also inspects and maintains over 3,000 manholes. Their tasks are required to be in compliance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) and most staff members are licensed in TCEQ Wastewater Collections.

The Water Division serves as the infrastructure side of Southlake Water Utilities. This team covers more than 11,314 water accounts, three major pump stations capable of processing more than 26 million gallons of water daily, storage tanks with a capacity of 21 million gallons of water per day, 302 miles of distribution pipe, 2,838 fire hydrants and 7,764 water valves. If customers have an interest in conserving water, the City offers programs and services that allow customers to conserve water and detect leaks in their water systems.

The Mobility Division is centered around mobility project management. The Traffic Team is responsible for roadway safety that includes signal operation, school zones and crosswalks. The division also works with regional partners in an effort to improve mobility.

The Facilities Division is responsible for all preventative maintenance on City buildings and structures. The team oversees almost 1 million gross square feet of infrastructure such as buildings and parking garages. They also coordinate project management for capital renovations and assist in planning future buildings.

The Administrative and Engineering Division oversees the planning, design and construction of the Capital Improvement Program, as well as identifies, manages and oversees infrastructure projects in Southlake.

Visit our website for more information about the Public Works Department.

Holiday Grease Roundup 2020 Begins November 23

The City of Southlake will be participating for their second year in the Holiday Grease Roundup. The Public Works Department will provide a collection station where residents can drop off used cooking oil and grease to be recycled for free at 1950 East Continental Boulevard. The collection station will be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from November 23, 2020 until January 4, 2021.

Holiday cooking can be hard on pipes and sewer systems. Washing oil and grease down the drain can lead to clogged pipes. This can cause sewer lines to backup in your home, which leads to expensive repairs and health concerns. To prevent sewer backups and clogged pipes during the holiday season, the Holiday Grease Roundup strives to provide a convenient location for residents to recycle cooking oil and grease.

The City wishes you a wonderful and safe holiday season and invites you to dispose of your cooking oil and grease responsibly. Free grease collection containers are available for pick-up in the collection station. For more information on other cities in the area that are participating, click here.

 

What is Backflow and How Does It Affect Water Quality?

While the City of Southlake consistently invests in and maintains quality infrastructure, it is always important to understand how systems work and how you can help us keep Southlake special.

Backflow is a term that describes water flowing in the opposite way from its intended direction, either from a decrease in pressure in the drinking water supply lines or increase of pressure on the customer’s side. The biggest issue that backflow can potentially cause is water contamination, if the proper backflow prevention assemblies aren’t installed and maintained on your plumbing system.

Water is designed to flow towards the point of lowest pressure, therefore if a water main were to break or a surge of fire hydrants were opened to fight a fire, the pressure would drop, forcing the water to flow backwards and potentially carry contaminants into the waterlines. If there is an illegal cross-connection to a source of contamination, which is when a physical connection between the drinking water supply and a possible source of contamination or pollution collide, it could result in the water being unsafe to drink. The most frequent types of cross connections include a water hose in a pool or soapy bucket, water wells connected to irrigation systems, coffee makers and ice machines with direct water lines, and chemical injection units at restaurants.

The good news is that backflow can be prevented by utilizing the proper backflow prevention assembly or an air gap, which is a physical separation between the end of the water supply pipeline and the flood level of the fixture in question. A good example of an air gap is the distance between the bottom of your sink tap and the height of your sink bowl.

The City of Southlake conducts customer service inspections to analyze and remove current or potential cross connections on a consistent basis throughout the year. If you have recently received a letter from the City stating an assembly has not been tested in the last year and are unsure of your records, you can search search here for the last backflow test or call 817-748-8082 to update your file.

If you are a licensed Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester and you’re interested in becoming a registered to test in the City of Southlake, the City has partnered with VEPO LLC for an online database and documentation of backflow prevention and tester registration. Learn more about the process here.

Public Works Employee Bill Hollings Passes Away After Car Accident

The City of Southlake is mourning the loss of Southlake Public Works employee Bill Hollings.

He passed away following a July 23 car accident that took place on Pearson Lane and West Southlake Boulevard involving a suspected drunk driver.

At the time of the accident, Bill was working with the Police Department on the side of the road to keep the intersection safe after power was lost to the traffic signals.

He had been with the City since January of 2019 and worked as a Traffic Supervisor in the Public Works Transportation Division.

“We are completely devastated at Bill’s loss,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “He was a devoted public servant, a traffic expert, and a kind co-worker. It’s a very emotional time for our team because we enjoyed his enthusiasm and positivity.”

“Bill could always be counted on to make things right,” said Public Works Director Rob Cohen. “When we hired him, I knew we were adding a special member to our team who was dedicated to serving the City and its citizens.”

Before his work with the City, Hollings was with the City of Arlington as a Traffic Operations Crew Leader.  He has also worked as Senior Semiconductor Technician.

“Our prayers and deepest condolences are with Bill’s family and friends,” said Yelverton. “It’s been a rough year, and this latest heartbreak will be difficult to overcome.”

Systems that Work – How Southlake Maintains a Sustainable Water Infrastructure

Drinking water is essential to the well-being and health of those who live, work and play in Southlake.

The Southlake Public Works Department teams up with other City departments such as Finance and Planning and Development Services to invest in maintaining and updating our water infrastructure. Public Works utilizes a ranking system which identifies and prioritizes projects essential to maintain critical assets. The department also abides by Environmental Protection Agency guidelines to provide quality and safe drinking water.

Water quality is maintained daily by flushing water hydrants, taking samples and monitoring to ensure facility operations are working properly.

Earlier this year, the City invested in renovating the elevated storage tank located on Miron Drive. Southlake cleans and inspect our tanks to ensure they meet and exceed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and American Water Works Association standards. After performing a series of inspections and cleanings, the tank was recommended to be repainted.

The City conducts annual inspections and cleanings on all water storage tanks to prevent a build-up of sediment which can settle in the bottom of the tank. Sediment left too long inside a storage tank could create a place for bacteria to form. When bacteria forms in a tank, the water in the tank can lose its disinfectant residual and adversely impact the water quality in the entire pressure plane or even an entire water system.

The renovation of the interior and exterior coating also prevents the corrosion of steel and the oxidation of the paint. The integrity of the water tower’s interior paint coating is essential to maintaining the infrastructure needed for quality and safe drinking water.   A smooth, non-porous surface helps ensure the tank is clean and free of issues.

The City also recently replaced 20-year-old pump valves at the T.W. King Booster Station. These valves play a critical role in the operation of the tank by pumping water from the City’s wholesale provider (City of Ft. Worth) to the water towers, which is then distributed to homes and commercial facilities in Southlake.

By strategically investing in public assets, such as water infrastructure systems, the City can continue to provide their customers with the highest quality drinking water.

For more information about water quality, visit our website. To review the 2020 Water Quality Report, click here.

Public Works Teams Up Through Hardship to Provide Essential Services

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs classifies the basic human requirements as physiological such as food, water and shelter. When we dive down to determine essentials to keep our life going; water, plumbing and pathways to get to food and shelter are likely to make the list along with being with our loved ones.

March 2020 became a reminder of some of the essential services we often take for granted like turning on the faucet to drink a glass of water, flushing the toilet, driving down a roadway to the grocery store or even taking a stroll down the neighborhood sidewalk for a breath of fresh air.

Access to these necessities couldn’t cease.

“The COVID-19 environment forced us to develop a new service delivery model – one that would protect our workforce and customers as we continued to deliver our core services,” Public Works Director Rob Cohen said. “Our team overcame a tremendous number of setbacks and obstacles, yet their resilience continues to help us persevere through these uncharted times. I’m very proud of our team. They came together in a way that exemplified their ‘can do’ mantra while adhering to our exceptionally high standards and values.”

Public Works Operations’ primary duties involve tools in their hands and mud on their boots. When the call came to work from home, Public Works Operations Manager Jack Thompson was tasked with coordinating logistics and creating a sense of team among workers who weren’t used to collaborating digitally, all while he was required to work from home.

“Rob’s support and confidence in our team helped us to do what we needed to do in order to continue providing our services,” Thompson said. “We had the trust to make good decisions and the ability to make changes on the fly to make sure we were providing high-quality services to our residents and performing those duties in a safe manner.”

Operations Crew Leader Tim Hackrott came up with the idea to station teams at the water towers. Thompson stationed one person from the water, wastewater and streets teams at the water towers so that teams were socially distanced while the Public Works Operations facility was shut down. Most requests were handled via phone call to lessen the amount of exposure to the public and emergencies were responded to as needed.

Despite all the changes, production never fell off. Public Works Operations completed 234 water quality samples and continued 24/7 monitoring of water levels and pumping operations.

When workers weren’t in the field, they were updating standard operating procedures and obtaining FEMA and emergency management certifications.

“We were here every day. There was always something to take care of and processes to document and improve on,” Thompson said.

When Public Works Operations lost their teammate Darlene Rubio to COVID-19, they continued to press on. Public Works Administration Secretary Lydia Ruiz picked up the baton, not only managing work from administration, but handling all of Rubio’s assignments.

“I think losing Darlene really hit home. COVID-19 wasn’t just in the news, it was real for all of us,” Ruiz said.

In addition to her regular duties, she has worked to support telecommuting staff in new ways, managing finance and administration tasks, information packets for the City Council, as well as assisting in the development of the department budget.

She said the team has experienced a lot of change in the past several months, but she tries to make herself available as an assistant, especially to the remote workers who feel disconnected from their coworkers.

“We’re a close-knit group in Public Works. The City has done an excellent job of hiring the right people who make a great team,” Ruiz said. “Everyone is willing to lend a hand.”

Through our Southlake Values of Integrity, Innovation, Accountability, Excellence and Teamwork, our Public Works team has stepped up to the task to rethink the new world of working with social distancing, do the right thing and take personal responsibility for the work, all while working together to set a higher standard for services in Southlake.

Learn more about the essential services Southlake Public Works provides here.