It’s Public Works Week! The American Public Works Association has announced Stronger Together as this year’s theme.
The theme is based on the joint efforts of how citizens and public works professionals can work together and impact their community while accomplishing goals.
The City of Southlake Public Works Department is comprised of seven divisions: Environmental Services, Streets and Drainage, Wastewater, Water, Transportation, Facilities and Administrative and Engineering.
All week, we’ll share some helpful tips and resources on how you can work together with our Public Works team to better Southlake.
“We want to improve the quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors, by working collectively with the community we serve. Together, we can continue to make Southlake a better place for future generations,” Director of Public Works Rob Cohen said.
“Our Public Works team under Director Cohen’s quality leadership is essential to providing vital everyday services like water, wastewater and streets to our community. Their efforts are fundamental and critical to not only City operations, but daily life. Their dedication and professionalism is something I’m proud to see as they serve this world class community,” Assistant City Manager Alison Ortowski said.
Resilient & Reliable – How the Southlake Public Works Team Defines Our Values
Some DFW residents worked from home. Some still had to report to work to make sure the critical needs of everyone in the area were met. Life slowed down for some during this time, but roads, infrastructure and water are still necessities residents need daily.
“Our workers have been showing up every day,” Public Works Director Rob Cohen said. “They’re working from non-traditional sites while continuing to provide critical and vital services to our customers. Our end goal is to meet regulatory requirements, achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction as safely and efficiently as possible.”
Although employee safety is a part of the department’s normal routine, specific protocols including social distancing, vehicle and office space cleaning and sanitization and wearing gloves and masks have now been implemented for field employees.
Employees that do not work in the field are equipped with office supplies and technology to work remotely, when they return to work, the same practices will be in place.
In mid – April, the Public Works Department experienced a tragic loss, losing one of their own. Administrative Secretary Darlene Rubio passed away as a result of complications from COVID-19.
“Darlene’s loss caught our workforce by surprise,” Cohen said. “The true reality of her being gone did not officially hit the organization until we brought back our employees to our Operations Facility. This is where Darlene worked and the realization of her passing became more clear as her desk was left untouched since she left in early March.”
Employees were allowed to grieve as needed, however, due to social distancing guidelines, the ability to attend services or gather together in mourning was highly unlikely.
The City Manager’s Office set up a tribute page for employees to post their farewell thoughts in her memory. These pages will be included in a book and presented to Darlene’s family.
“Our workforce is an outward facing, customer centric organization. Our employees take pride in their work and desire to continue to provide essential services to our customers. The ability for them to return to work and do what they do best has helped the healing process.” Cohen said. “Our workforce is comprised of dedicated professionals who will continue to preserve Darlene’s memory in their own personal way. There is no doubt, however, that we are doing what Darlene would want us to do — to continue to move forward and serve — just as she has selflessly served our country and our city.”
The Southlake Public Works team resiliency and dedication through this time is a great example of how exemplifying the City’s values of integrity, innovation, accountability, excellence and teamwork.