Public Works and Utilities Newsletter

Paving The Way For A Brighter Future By Educating, Engaging And Empowering Our Employees.


Director's Corner

Miki Esposito, Director of Public Works and Utilities

From the beginning, my leadership philosophy for the Department has been to break down the silos that existed within our agency with the mantra being "there is no division among our Divisions." I believed then, as I do now, that the more we work together and share resources as a Department, the better we collectively serve our citizens.

With this philosophy in mind, we moved toward centralizing all internal Department support services – safety, security, GIS, PC Support and environmental compliance – by housing them under Administration. At the beginning of this budget year, we pulled together like-minded individuals from each Division who have similar training, education and expertise to solve agency challenges. In doing so, we are already seeing increased efficiency and effectiveness, reduced cost, increased security and safety, standardized policy and practice, and increased service levels.

I wanted our operating Divisions (Water, Wastewater, Engineering, Street Maintenance, Traffic Operations, Watershed Management, Solid Waste Operations and StarTran) to be singularly focused on operations and providing external customer service and support to the citizen. That is our primary mission. At the same time, it's the Administration's job to facilitate robust internal customer service and support to the operating Divisions in an equitable and reliable manner. In turn, our operating Divisions can effectively and efficiently serve the citizen.

While this was a tough decision because of its effect on individuals, the Department as a whole is already realizing the benefits. In fact, we've experienced tremendous progress in the areas of Technology Services and Emergency Operations, and the establishment of an Environmental and Risk Management System. So rather than a particular Division "losing FTEs," each Division is gaining an entire team of specialists to assist in meeting its operational needs.

As you know, improvement cannot occur without change. I strongly believe that this reorganization to provide every Division with a strong central support network gives rise to stronger external support to our citizens. In my third year as Director, I continue to be humbled and inspired by your remarkable efforts and fortitude. Thank you all so much!

Sincerely, Miki Esposito Director of Public Works and Utilities

It's Coming!

Yes, it's that time of year. Time to pack away the beach towels and sand toys and un-pack the shovels, snow blowers, snow suits and sleds.

Keep in mind that the City uses various methods to inform the public about snow operations:

  • Local news media sources
  • City website - lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: snow)
  • RSS feeds - Sign up at lincoln.ne.gov.
  • Twitter - Sign up at twitter.com/lincolnsnow. You do not need a Twitter account to receive SMS alerts - text "follow lincolnsnow" to 40404 (standard text messaging rates apply).
  • Time Warner Cable government access channels 5 and 10 and educational access channel 80

Handy Contact Information:

  • Street condition emergencies - 402-441-7701
  • Snow Center (parking bans/ snow removal operations) 402-441-7644
  • Non-emergencies/potholes 402-441-7646
  • City website - ACTION Center Service Request

Strong Lincs

There Is No ‘Division’ Among Our Divisions.

- Miki Esposito

PWU Director Miki Esposito is pleased to announce the Strong Linc Award recipients for the workplace principle of being cost conscious. Please congratulate these Strong Lincs for their valued service.

David Young (Administration)
David's dynamic force, innovative spirit and drive for excellence have led to several cost saving initiatives in fiscal year 2013-14. Through his leadership, we consolidated our servers and made a strategic technological move from Novell to Windows. During the budget process, David successfully persuaded the administration to fund a City-wide XP migration for greater long-term savings and efficiencies. Finally, he initiated a cost reduction and efficiency effort by partnering with the County Assessor's office to conduct a cleanup and editing effort in Landbase at no cost to Public Works.
Fran Mejer (Business Office)
Fran is nominated for the number of years she's worked to get us through the budget process successfully! Fran's tenacity, diligence, discipline and commitment to the taxpayer are unparalleled in the Department.
Zach Becker (Engineering Services)
Zach has embraced all aspects of the "P" Street project since he was assigned to it during construction. Zach has reviewed more than 40 change requests submitted by the contractor. Many of these change requests had prices submitted by subcontractors that were inconsistent between change requests. Because of Zach's diligence and attention to detail, many of the change requests submitted have been reduced in fee, saving the project and taxpayers money.
Amy Cornelius-Jones (Engineering Services)
Amy does most of the ordering of supplies and administrative materials for Engineering Services. She uses the most current vendor contract, follows the correct purchasing processes and researches materials that staff needs to give them the best product at the most efficient price. She is very frugal with limited budgets and is very service-oriented for our staff.
James Puls, Randy Saathoff, Dale Gebhard, Nick Castillo, Kirk Drake, Tim Zach, Gaylon Masek, Ryan Harvey, Ron Edson, Mark Miller, Jess Sundeen, Zach Becker, Steve Faust, Tim Byrne and Curt Weber (Engineering Services)
These gentlemen are the eyes and ears of Public Works. They are mindful that the work they do is funded from a Division's limited budget. They help balance short-term savings with long-term costs when making decisions. The best a contractor, the public or a taxpayer may call them is "fair." However, they are not merely fair, but superb!
Joel Allison and Ryan Boyer (Solid Waste)
Prior to the construction of the Phase 12 Liner at the Bluff Road Landfill, Joel and Ryan worked to find a cost-effective way to remove an existing asphalt roadway so that soil excavation could proceed prior to the construction contract award. They determined that renting equipment and staffing the milling of the roadway with existing operations employees would save considerable dollars and provide millings that could be used elsewhere in the operation.
Kevin Patak (Solid Waste)
Kevin proposed significant repairs to the walking floor at the Transfer Station, using existing staff to save money, as opposed to contracting the work. Although it will be impossible to quantify the savings with certainty – it is estimated to be as much as $20,000 – Kevin's commitment to plan and execute the repair effort in-house as a cost saving measure is worthy of recognition.
Rod Hendrickson (Street Maintenance)
Rod is nominated for pursuing an energy rebate with LES for the installation of LEDs in the West District shop at the Municipal Services Center (MSC). The City will save in both the capital expenditure and reduced cost of electricity.
Ty Barger, Steve Bussen, Dave Campbell, Eddy Gleason and Kyle Williams (Street Maintenance)
Ty, Steve, Dave, Eddy and Kyle developed a cost-conscious strategy for winter maintenance and deicing, reducing the City's reliance on expensive red salt and increasing the production and use of brine and calcium chloride.
Rick Roberts, Eric Lee and Paul Wimmer (Water)
Rick, Eric and Paul have worked diligently on energy management and conservation at Lincoln's water facilities. These three have helped develop operating rules and procedures that assist staff in daily decisions on pumping, transmission and storage of water. As a result, annual cost savings are estimated to be $200,000 to $500,000 per year. Rick, Eric and Paul would be the first to acknowledge and give credit to their staff for implementing these procedures and for being cost conscious by making wise and cost-effective operating decisions on a daily basis.
Brian Cunningham (StarTran)
Brian does an incredible job ordering parts for StarTran. He always obtains the best price for the products he purchases. Our inventories have always gone well, and his efforts are appreciated.

The next workplace principle will focus on bravery/courageousness. Nominations are due to Miki by Friday, November 14.

Transfer Station Undergoes Repairs

Waste handling at the Bluff Road Landfill Transfer Station

In early July, the staff assigned to the Transfer Station at the Bluff Road Landfill began a major repair of the "walking floor" that is used to move trash dumped by customers into the top-loaded waste transfer trailer. The effort requires incoming waste to be handled outside the building during the repair. Staff directs customers safely into unfamiliar and confined unloading areas. Waste is then moved into the transfer trailer and/or roll-off boxes with a front-end loader, avoiding unnecessary litter and limiting exposure to rain.

About one-third of the total floor length was removed. The substructure is being replaced with new steel material. Additionally, electrical and hydraulic components were replaced and, when appropriate, routed differently to improve maintenance access.

The staff undertook the repair with in-house resources as a cost savings measure. Although it is impossible to know the exact savings, it is estimated to be as much as $20,000 compared to the cost of preparing specifications, bidding and hiring a contractor to complete the repair.

Waste handling at the Bluff Road Landfill Transfer Station

The repair will improve working conditions for staff when maintenance of the walking floor is necessary and will also ensure uninterrupted movement of wastes from the facility. Wastes that are not transferred efficiently can quickly become a health and safety concern.

The Transfer Station began operation in 1989, coinciding generally with the opening of the Bluff Road Landfill. About 22,000 small vehicles use the facility annually, with staff transferring about 7,500 tons of waste to the Bluff Road Landfill.

Waste handling at the Bluff Road Landfill Transfer Station

Upcoming Events

SATURDAYS, OCTOBER 25 NOVEMBER 1, 22
Big Red Express Husker Football Shuttle
Six Locations
SUNDAY through THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26-30
StarTran shuttle for Boo At The Zoo
4:30 to 9 p.m.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 2
Reminder: Daylight Savings Time will end at 2 a.m.

More PWU Events...

Upcoming Construction Projects

2014 Construction Season Projects
lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: projects)

Street Operations to Make Advancements in WINTER MAINTENANCE PROGRAM

Street Maintenance personnel have been working hard to make improvements to the winter maintenance program for the upcoming season. In the past, Street Maintenance has relied heavily on the application of dry granular salt and limited use of anti-icing and pre-wetting agents.

Street Maintenance truck used to dispense brine mixture

The new method to combat winter weather will see a substantial increase in brine application for anti-icing and pre-wetting. Thanks to new and improved equipment, brine mixtures will be created specific to different weather conditions. Additionally, all granular salt will be pre-wetted as it falls from the material spreaders. The blends will always include sodium chloride and 10-percent beet juice, with calcium chloride being added incrementally during colder weather conditions. Street Maintenance will anti-ice all arterial roadways, bus routes and school routes prior to each snow event.

Street Maintenance truck used to dispense brine mixture

Including beet juice increases the residual melting capability of the brine solution, resulting in less material waste. The liquid will also help reduce the bounce and scatter of the granular salt during material spreading operations, keeping more salt on the road to melt the snow and ice.

Public Works and Utilities will continue to evaluate and improve this program. We are excited for this new direction and are confident these advancements will enable us to improve our public service.

Street Maintenance truck used to dispense brine mixture

BITS AND BYTES: OnBase

Over the past decade, the move has been from a paper-based world to a digital world. The number and size of digital documents has risen exponentially. OnBase is a software solution that manages digital information and the processes that utilize that information. OnBase allows us to consistently store and retrieve information from a single repository instead of a large number of isolated folders hidden on a server. Additionally, information can be managed through a "work flow" process and/or retrieved through a Google-like query.

Implementation of OnBase in PWU started last year with a project to track surety releases. Currently, Water and Wastewater have projects to store all asset records in OnBase. Development of a training and certification tracking program for Street Maintenance and scoping for the CIP Project Management efforts are also under way.

An OnBase team is being formed to document the vision for OnBase, to coordinate implementation details and to assist the Director with prioritizing the incremental steps to fulfill that vision.


All available issues

June/July 2013 PDF 

  • Respect And Civility At Work
  • City Resources
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Condolences to Jeff Grove's Friends and Family
  • Service Awards
  • Something For The Kids: Dig Into Reading
  • Stormwater Runoff
  • Mayor's Award of Excellence for April
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – City Council Approves Drought Rates
  • Water Conservation Poster Contest Winners
  • Flashing Yellow Arrows

April/May 2013 PDF 

  • Spring is Here!
  • Davis to Serve as StarTran Transit Manager
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Whisenhunt Presented Mayor's Award of Excellence for January
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Morris Receives March Award of Excellence
  • Employee Training and Recognition Event
  • Golden Shovel and Platinum Pen Awards
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Managing the Cost of Electrical Power
  • Summer Water Restrictions Again Possible

February/March 2013 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: Laying the Groundwork
  • Call Before You Dig
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Condolences to Warren Wondercheck's Friends and Family
  • 2013 Home & Garden Show
  • Welcome Frank Uhlarik!
  • StarTran Stuff the Bus
  • StarTran 31-Consecutive Day Bus Pass Has New Lower Price!
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Funding Utility Services
  • Lincoln's Biosolids Land Application Program: 20 Years Old and Going Strong
  • PWU Recognized at NWEA Conference

December 2012 / January 2013 PDF 

  • Lincoln Water System Utility Supervisors Vital to Asset Management
  • StarTran 2012 Big Red Express
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Brian Dittmann and Steve Titus are Retiring!
  • PWU Teams Up With Lincoln Public School Students
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Engineering Services
  • Municipal Services Center Continues Renovations
  • PWU Praised for Cooperative Efforts

October/November 2012 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: We Endure
  • City of Lincoln Wellness Program
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • September Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • The Drought of 2012
  • Prepping for Snow
  • Wellness Initiatives
  • StarTran Serves 2,000,000 Riders

August/September 2012 PDF 

  • Public Works and Utilities Runs Defense
  • VoIP
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Leadership Link Manager of the Year
  • July Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • Taylor Buss: Public Works and Utilities Ambassador
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Asset Management: A Commitment to a Sustainable Community
  • Wastewater FROGs
  • StarTran Receives Environmental Leadership Award

June/July 2012 PDF 

  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – "Color of Money"
  • Sidewalks: A Change in Responsibilities
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • John Ottoson is Retiring!
  • Kennedy Receives Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • Public Works Day Celebrated During Waterfest
  • 2011 Mayor's Award of Excellence Honorable Mention: Jose Regueira
  • June is National Safety Month
  • Safety is Director's Top Priority
  • Compost Program Nearing Anniversary
  • Water Conservation Poster Contest Winners

April/May 2012 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: Who We Are
  • E-mail "Alerts"
  • National Public Works Week
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Service Awards
  • February Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • PWU Active in Sustainability Events
  • Stuff the Bus
  • Double Roundabout Wins Prestigious ACEC Honor Award
  • 56th and Elkcrest Water Main Breaks
  • Clean Water Program
  • Golden Shovel Award

February/March 2012 PDF 

  • PWU Director Esposito Appoints Marketing Committee
  • Snow Removal Effort Receives Multiple Compliments
  • Employee Kudos!
  • Terry Ullsperger Receives Award From HBAL
  • 2012 Home & Garden Show
  • StarTran Sees 20 Percent Increase in Ridership Over Two Years
  • City Has Filled More Than 7,000 Potholes This Winter
  • We're Listening: Why does it take so long to clear my cul-de-sac?


Marketing Committee Members

*Newsletter Committee Member

Ellen Wright
ewright@lincoln.ne.gov
*Amy Cornelius-Jones
acornelius@lincoln.ne.gov
Clay Engelman
claytonengelman@hotmail.com
Kitty Elliott
kelliott@lincoln.ne.gov
Kyle Williams
kwilliams@lincoln.ne.gov
*Meagan Pratt
mnpratt@lincoln.ne.gov
Michelle Zuhlke
mzuhlke@lincoln.ne.gov
*Nick McElvain
nmcelvain@lincoln.ne.gov
Rock Krzycki
rkrzycki@lincoln.ne.gov
Gene Hanlon
ghanlon@lincoln.ne.gov
*Michele Abendroth
mabendroth@lincoln.ne.gov