Mayor Chris Beutler today presented the Mayor's Award of Excellence for December to Randy Winch, Heavy Equipment Mechanic for the Street Maintenance Operations Division of the Public Works and Utilities Department. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City. The award was presented at the beginning of today's City Council meeting.
Winch has worked for the City since November 1977. Jim Chiles, Superintendent of Fleet Services, nominated Winch in the category of productivity for his work to create a vacuum system to clean up concrete slurry, the runoff from the process of cutting concrete with an industrial saw.
The project started with an e-mail complaint that concrete slurry was running into the storm drain on South 84th Street. Rock Krzycki of Watershed Management confirmed that keeping the slurry out of the bodies of water and the storm drain system was important because it can be as caustic as drain cleaner. Concrete slurry also is considered a pollutant under the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System stormwater permit.
Chiles said a vacuum system is not yet available commercially, so his staff purchased components to create a system. His goal was to create a system that was easy to operate and maintain. Once the components arrived, Winch volunteered to tackle the job of assembling the wide variety of parts and pieces which included the vacuum system, hoses, reels, pumps, tanks, straps and trailers.
Winch met with the operating sections, shop personnel and considered all suggestions, opinions, advice and constructive criticism. The result was a concrete slurry vacuum system that looked professional and was easy to operate and maintain. It also exceeded all of the expectations on functionality, cleaning more than 95 percent of the slurry created during the sawing operation.
Working with the state stormwater grant program, the City was able to fund two units to collect the slurry and dispose of it properly. The equipment they purchased allows the process to be a one-person operation - the concrete saw operator collects the slurry using a customized vacuum head mounted directly onto the saw.
Chiles says he would not be surprised to see a very similar product being marketed in trade journals in the near future as an "only one man concrete slurry vacuum system." He said Winch's knowledge, experience and "thick skin" were all very apparent throughout this project.
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are customer relations, loss prevention, safety and valor. Consideration also may be given to nominations that demonstrate self-initiated accomplishments or those completed outside of the nominee's job description. All City employees are eligible for the Mayor's Award of Excellence except for elected and appointed officials. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public. Nomination forms are available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: personnel) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Personnel Department, which oversees the awards program.
All nominations are reviewed by the Mayor's Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $100 U.S. savings bond, a day off with pay and a plaque. Monthly winners are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $500 U.S. savings bond, two days off with pay and a plaque.