The week of May 17 is National Public Works Week, marking the 60th Anniversary of this recognition.
Celebrating and honoring Public Works (DPW) employees is even more important this year with the efforts these workershave put forth during the Coronavirus challenge. The federal government recognized the crucial role that Public Works employees provide during emergency situations by formally classifying Public Works Employees as first responders in the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
I am proud to say that our DPW, along with the members of our police department, fire department and EMS, have remained on full duty every day during the Corona pandemic. In Voorhees, since significantly more people are home, we have seen a 25% increase in trash collected and a 31% increase in vegetation collected. Our DPW has not missed a beat. The DPW crew has also maintained the operation of our sewer and stormwater systems while continuing uninterrupted, recycling, bulk and leaf collection.
Before our Governor mandated public isolation, our DPW was already prepared to seamlessly continue operations. A daily temperature check was initiated and training was conducted in the use of personal protective equipment and measures to be used when coming into contact with potentially contaminated materials, including trash and sewage. This training covered both staying safe at work and ways to protect their familieswhen they transitioned from work to home.
We sometimes take our DPW for granted, but they work through rain, snow, heat, cold and even pandemics. During windstorms, they use chainsaws and trucks to remove fallentrees to keep our roads open and to protect power lines from damage. When snowstorms occur, double shifts are regularly worked to keep the roads passable. During high rain and flooding events, they know the areas that are most vulnerable and are there to keep damage to a minimum. Our DPW sets up for and cleans up after our concerts in the park and makes sure cars are parked efficiently and safely. If you enjoyed our annual Halloween Festival, you know that our DPW members operate the hayride, assist in the pumpkin patch, staff informational tables and keep the trash and litter under control.
Please join me in recognizing and thanking the members ofour Department of Public Works during National Public Works Week for their steadfast service to Voorhees Township.
Finally, as many of you know, this is my first column since contracting Covid-19 and being quarantined for a month. Thank you to my colleague, Michelle Nocito, for keeping our community informed in my absence through her “Deputy Mayor’s Column.” I have also been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support from the Voorhees Community during my recovery.
We’re six feet apart, but closer than ever!