The Public Works Nerds

Nerds Unplugged February 2024: CEAM Conference, Richard McCoy and Episode Recaps

February 12, 2024 Marc Culver, PE Season 2 Episode 4
The Public Works Nerds
Nerds Unplugged February 2024: CEAM Conference, Richard McCoy and Episode Recaps
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome to the first Nerds Unplugged episode! Deb Heiser, Michael Thompson and Mark Ray join me as a panel of opinionated Public Works professionals talking about random issues related to Public Works.  This is planned to be a monthly or so feature where we recap recent podcast episodes, talk about public works issues in the news and give updates to what's going on in our public works worlds.

For this first episode we are joined by Richard McCoy, Public Works Director and City Engineer with the City of Robbinsdale, MN. Our Australian native colleague talks about his multi award winning Water Treatment Plant project and how things are a little different in Australia.

The panel also talks about the City Engineers Association of Minnesota's (CEAM) Annual Conference which concluded on February 2nd, the day we recorded this episode.

We hope you enjoy this experiment in the episode format. We would LOVE to hear from our listeners on topics to talk about. Let us know if you have a suggestion or want to share something interesting that is going on in your career and/or community.

Below is the AI generated recap for this episode. I figured I would keep it here in the show notes so you can see what AI thinks of this episode. As always, thanks for listening!

NERDS OUT! 


Ever wondered how the seemingly mundane world of public works is actually a high-stakes game of strategy and innovation? Strap in as we take you beyond the orange cones and into the heart of our communities' unsung heroes with Deb Heiser, Michael Thompson, and Aussie newcomer Richard McCoy. Discover why Minnesota's unseasonable warmth isn't just good for your tan but also for street maintenance, and how our playful podcast download rivalry underscores the passion that drives public works professionals across the globe.

This episode isn't just about the concrete and pipes beneath our feet; it's a celebration of the milestones marking the journey of our colleagues, like Mark Ray's exciting new chapter as Public Works Director in Burnsville. As we chat with these industry mavens, we uncover the crucial blend of ethics, culture, and communication that propels our field forward. You'll gain insights into the intricate dance of long-term infrastructure planning, the human touch needed in crisis management, and the cultural shifts that are redefining our workspaces from the inside out. 

Join us for a discourse that ventures into the lesser-seen realms of public works, from the complexity of waste management in the face of changing policies to the surprising efficiency of trash-to-energy processes. Learn how cities like Plymouth are navigating the organics collection conundrum and why Aussie asset management might just be the blueprint for future-proofing our infrastructure. This isn't just talk; it's a masterclass in the art of balancing technical prowess with the finesse of community service. Grab your hard hat and let's get to work understanding the world that works for us.

Mark Ray:

Welcome to the Public Works Nerds podcast.

Marc Culver:

Welcome to the Public Works Nerds podcast, the Public Works podcast of the nerds, by the nerds and for the nerds. I am your host Marc Culver. Thank you for joining us today. We're going to do something a little different. We're going to try an experiment within the experiment. I've been calling this podcast journey a bit of an experiment and now we're going to shake up the format a little bit a lot actually and try something I'm calling the nerds unplugged. We're going to go off completely off script hopefully not completely off the rails and see if we can have a little fun just talking about Public Works related items in the news, maybe recapping some of our recent episodes and getting some additional insight into Public Works. So joining me today are some Public Works Nerds, veterans and one newcomer. So first our veterans Deb Heiser, engineering director for the city of St Louis Park, welcome.

Deb Heiser:

Thank you for having me.

Marc Culver:

We've got Mark Ray, who's been with us a couple of times. Mark Ray, Public Works director for the city of Burnsville Good to be here. And Michael Thompson, Public Works director for the city of Plymouth.

Michael Thompson:

Also great to be here.

Marc Culver:

And our newcomer and special guest, Richard McCoy, public Works director and city engineer for the city of Robbinsdale. All of this in Minnesota, of course, because we are in Minnesota. All right. All right, Enough of the scripted stuff, welcome to the experiment. Let's have some fun. I'm going to start by just saying first of all, congratulations to Mr Ray for his recent switch shift to the city of Burnsville. You were at Crystal the last couple of times we've heard from you, and now you've taken a new role at the city of Burnsville. Maybe just take a quick moment to talk about that.

Mark Ray:

Yeah, well, being family in the area, I decided to try to head south to warm up a little bit, and so Burnsville seemed like a great fit you warmed up the whole state in the process, Exactly, no, it's been a great time at Burnsville.

Mark Ray:

It's about two months coming up here being there and it's been fun getting all the staff learning the city a little bit. It's always some nuances of having worked north of 394, all the avenue north, so now it's south and so just kind of some of the nuances of the names are just part of the fun of learning the city, learning the people and just trying to make it a little app Cool.

Marc Culver:

Well, congratulations. We thank you. I look forward to hearing more about Burnsville here. Wanted to so. Deb former. Well, she has been a co-host with me. She's been on an episode. Anything new in your realm.

Deb Heiser:

New in my realm. Well, we had our city engineers association meeting. We just closed that up at noon today and I was very honored to be elected to be the vice president, so I'll be moving into a new role.

Marc Culver:

Honored to be elected in an unopposed election. Oh, no, no, no.

Deb Heiser:

There was a bright end campaign. I'm sure Mickey Mouse might have won if there had been a couple more votes.

Marc Culver:

But actually they look back and Mickey Mouse had a felony, so could not serve as president or vice president.

Deb Heiser:

But very successful concert. We'll talk about it later. I'm sorry to steal your thunder, but that's what's going on with us Looking forward to construction season. That's coming up, right. Yeah, good start tomorrow. Yeah exactly, Just for everybody. It's unseasonally warm in Minnesota right now. We had 51 degrees on Wednesday, which is unheard of in January.

Mark Ray:

She doesn't stand in this park. I didn't see a street sweeper out today Taking advantage of it. I'm not sure the last time the streets were being swept in February 2nd Right Probably never, probably.

Marc Culver:

And Michael, welcome back. I wanted to say this. So, Michael and Mark. Mark was the first episode of the Public Work Standards Podcast and Michael was number two. Now, if you look at the downloads which is not publicly available, if you look at the downloads, Michael has 600 and some downloads, and Mark is quickly chasing him at 560 downloads. So it's a race. So get your friends, your family members, to get those download numbers up even further. But there may be a prize at the end of season two with who's got the most downloads.

Michael Thompson:

Did you make sure he didn't download it 400 times himself? I can't see that level of detail. There was no fine print.

Mark Ray:

Thank you very much. I'd also like to point out it was the last episode of the first season two. He won you were not counting that one for download, so are you so our veteran?

Marc Culver:

let's go. And then our newcomer, mr Richard McCoy Addie, welcome. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for joining us Now. We intentionally brought Richard in here because if you don't know Richard and many of you do, but if you don't know Richard he's a little saucy and we thought you know what better way to kick off this little unplugged episode and see what we can, what controversy we can create, than to innovate Mr McCoy here, so welcome. We expect great things from you.

Richard McCoy:

Well, yeah, I'll tone my language down a bit for public consumption.

Marc Culver:

Yeah, so just a little background for you, richard. You've been with Robinsdale for how long?

Richard McCoy:

Just over 22 years. Where were you before Robinsdale?

Marc Culver:

Australia. Yeah, I think you can hear it in the voice. I think we're going to. I want to talk a little bit about that or, if we have, if it comes, you know, back to this. I think there's some interesting things about Australia. Actually, we talked about you. We mentioned your name in the last. I saw that with Russ. Yeah, an episode three of season two here with Russ Mathis. We talked about how asset management is handled in Australia. So maybe we'll touch on that a little bit, but all right, so that's the introduction. Where do we go from here? What do we do now?

Mark Ray:

Let's touch on the conference. Let's just go. That's raw, that's right.

Richard McCoy:

Just take things. We have the vice president here everybody.

Mark Ray:

I mean I'm not sure where security is, but they might be watching.

Marc Culver:

Triple secret security, right, yeah. So the city engineers conference just ended. It's Friday. We're recording this on the Friday afternoon of the conference. It's a two and a half day conference and I think we've Deb and I we actually had an episode talking about city engineering association and we've said that we think this is like the best conference around it's. It's great content, great people, great networking all of that. Deb, as she so proudly declared, is the vice president, will be serving as a vice president. 2024 will be the president, unless there's a there's a successful write in campaign in 2025. And then, michael, you are on the board right now as a past president. Will you or will you not be on the board in 2024?

Michael Thompson:

I believe I will be. So I've been the past president for two years now because the presidents have taken jobs in the private sector, so we've had this continuous vacancy as president. So Justin Femmright from Elk River he has been second past president for a while, so we're just stuck in this loop. It could be a lifetime appointment for all that I know. Let's hope not.

Mark Ray:

Three years of being the past president. Like to use a silver spoon or like a?

Deb Heiser:

golden shovel. We're going to make him a t-shirt.

Michael Thompson:

Oh yeah, I'll take whatever I can get.

Deb Heiser:

Well, and I think that you know, with the conferences, we actually had 525 attendees, which is actually a record. I was talking to a previous past president from the oh, probably 15, 20 years ago. They still have about 300, you know, 250 to 300 people attending the conference and it's just grown. I think it's a testament to the content and the planning committee. Remember, the planning committee is made up of professionals from the private and public sector trying to find timely topics and there was some really great topics on the conferences here. We had a PFAS, which was one of the episodes. We also had led service lines, which is one of the episodes that has been on here Also, forgive me, we were talking about technology with being able to do tree inventories using AI. That was really a cool. I think everybody was pretty impressed with that being able to drive down the street and be able to scan for trees and see health and species just by taking pictures. Russ talked about his or, excuse me, Ross talked about his work with the pond and we talked. That was another episode.

Marc Culver:

Yep, I saw another, yeah, veteran and the nerds nerd there.

Deb Heiser:

He did present three times. He did in one day In one day.

Mark Ray:

That just really stresses the quality of the content there, and we hope those people that are attending the conference become members right? Yes, ross Ross.

Marc Culver:

Presenting you a bill.

Michael Thompson:

And we do get great feedback being on the planning committee. This year we had George Hawkins as our keynote speaker to kick off on Wednesday morning, and so we tried to get somebody technical. So he was the utility general manager for Washington DC for a stretch, and so he brought a lot of that technical knowledge with inspiration, and so what I think our membership gets out of it is, of course, they get their continuing education credits, but they also are inspired by professionals just like you or I, and so I think they appreciate hearing from people in the industry and we're always keeping things fresh with the conference and very glad to be part of that.

Mark Ray:

I think that's one of the amazing things whenever I hear speakers from you know how it used to like Europe, where it's the time horizon is so much different. Right, like we're talking, our cities are built out 60s and beyond, roughly where you have DC, boston. They've been around for significantly longer and just years, yeah, and they're built out and so it's. You know, how do you, how do you work in that environment? It's always just fascinating to hear we see those like we know that you're open the road, like all the undergone buried stuff. It's like how do you even get to whatever it is you're trying to fix it, and then just the challenge that they have are always like fascinating to hear and really stress the importance of right away management.

Michael Thompson:

Yeah, when you hear the keynote speaker was talking about some of the water infrastructure installed back around the Civil War time and you know for me working at Plymouth, you know for us it's like 1950s and 60s is a long time ago and so it just I think having outside speakers just gives everybody a different point of view and sometimes makes you appreciate what you do have, because somebody always has it a lot worse. Yep, Yep.

Marc Culver:

So and one of the other sessions we had, richard, you had a session talking about your new water treatment plant award winning, award, winning Two awards. Now, yep, are you going to go after a national award with that and everything Of? Course. Of course, of course. So maybe talk a little bit about your. I mean, we're not going to spend a whole hour on it, but spend a couple of minutes talking about your water treatment plant. What are you so proud about, what's so special about your new water treatment?

Richard McCoy:

plant. We are really proud of the water treatment plant. You know, now, for the first time, robinsdale is softening its water. If you didn't know, robinsdale water beforehand was bloody awful. So to have the city, council and really the community support building a water treatment, a softening plant, is extremely brilliant, you know, and Robinsdale is not a big city by any means, and for a city that size to invest, you know, in the order of 40 million dollars on the water treatment plant, plus a new water tower, plus some new wells, that's pretty phenomenal stuff remind me again what the population is of Robin's down.

Richard McCoy:

Well, we're just hitting on 15,000.

Deb Heiser:

It is a big investment. It's all well water.

Richard McCoy:

Oh well, water, yep, yep.

Mark Ray:

I think the big thing there is we're just talking about, you know, water infrastructure being put in in the Civil War. Do you think what? This 40 million dollar investment by the city of Robin's Hill that will literally Carry on for generations who will remember like that will just be normal for them. It will, whereas in this transition time it's a bit of turmoil. Well, it's, it's, it's stressed, it's money and it's it's change yeah. Yeah.

Michael Thompson:

I sat in and watched the presentation that Richard did with his consulting team and what I found fascinating was the construction of it and how you constructed it to make sure it was easily maintainable, so I took a lot out of that. You want to touch on a couple things with that.

Richard McCoy:

Yeah, you know we we tried to put a lot of thought into to what we did during the design and planning stage of it.

Richard McCoy:

We visited lots of other plants, saw what was working well for them. So was it what wasn't working so well, and tried to combine all the good things we saw and then, with an eye on longevity, you know, make sure that the components are the likely to get rusty. You're actually built from stainless steel, so we don't have to worry about that putting in elements of the treatment that Don't require continual babysitting, because what I didn't want to do was was have a water treatment plant and then have to put another five staff on just to run the new treatment plant. So make that that slaking Arrangement is is so good, you know they're not having to get in and shovel any Lime slurry out that they don't use it, just continually goes round a loop until it's called for. That's just some of the things we we tried to implement. Looking at the longer term, you know it costs more to put in initially, but we think we'll get that payback in in scads over time.

Mark Ray:

Well, I think that's part of it. The. The challenge, right, is you can never save the money you never had to spend, yeah, and so you just talk about reducing your staff needs. You're not running 24 7 staffing operations yeah, and that is a cost.

Richard McCoy:

You'll never show a savings but you never have to incur as city, and that's really that thoughtful and even the simplicity of building your permeate tanks and your backwash Tanks large enough that you can run over a long weekend without having to send somebody in to do pressings.

Marc Culver:

I mean that just works out brilliantly so just just real quick, like the impetus for you taking on this project to begin with. I mean, besides the question of treatment or not treatment, or Softening or not softening, I'm assuming that your water treatment plant was just to the point where you needed to Reinvest in this.

Richard McCoy:

We had three treatment plants. Yeah, they were getting to the point. They they weren't in any risk of a catastrophic failure, but we were getting to the point where some decisions needed to be made. So, again, not waiting to the last minute with this asset replacement, trying to Get the city council to recognize that, and for the summer money that we're gonna have to expend, they needed to be given the heads up well beforehand. So, just getting all of those ducks in a row, planning it all out in a logical way, bringing them along for the journey, I'm meant that, yeah, well, now's the time to do it and now that it's done, that's in place now for the next 70, 80 years.

Marc Culver:

Yeah and I think it's worth noting that. You know you made the decision to consolidate three Treatment plans into one. It was time to to invest in and new infrastructure. But when you did that, you didn't just replace what you had. Necessarily you thought about into the future. Yeah, and what can we? What can we do better? How can we be more efficient? Out we implement new processes and things like that. I think that's one. I mean this all kind of is encompassed by like just good, Well thought out asset management you know that's a recurring theme and yeah, just just good, good thinking and planning.

Marc Culver:

so congratulations on that and well done, thanks.

Mark Ray:

Hold on to when you look at. I mean, it's not just one building, it's raw water transmission lines and towers. What is the total construction? You know because of this one new water treatment plant. But you look at that total timeline did from when your new tower comes online to when you when it originally started. Well, how many years was that?

Richard McCoy:

Well, I first raised this with the city council back in 2010, kind of gave them the heads up that they they had some big ticket items that needed to be replaced not immediately, but they needed to be replaced. They should start thinking about that, and so from from 2010 onwards, you know, each year they'd get a reminder that this is still coming pretty soon. It appears on the 10-year CIP. It starts to get closer and closer. So we then start to implement what we need to make the right decisions, the rate study, the system modeling and all of that stuff, and then launching of the feasibility. So they, they knew it was coming and they, you know, they were okay with it as it got closer and closer, until we got to the point where we finally had a plan and they pushed the button and away we went.

Mark Ray:

I think that's one of the unfortunate things about Polarist projects, because it's such a long time horizon. Every council had a role in making that successful. Yeah, and it's one of those. Things will never be celebrated To the extent of the impact that will have in the community for generations to come.

Richard McCoy:

Yeah, yeah.

Marc Culver:

So we're gonna come back to some water stuff here in a minute, but any other sessions we want to highlight, talk about anything.

Deb Heiser:

Any other great, memorable, well delivered sessions that we had illegal issues and I'm gonna remember that we had a kind of a back-to-back. So we had George, which was great, but then we also had illegal issues for civil engineers. An attorney came in and spoke and I'm gonna grab his name, I'm gonna phone a friend over here and talking about just contracts and Jeff Coleman. Jeff Coleman, thank you, and he had just a. I mean just you know what is risk, what is liability, what is liquidated damages and just kind of giving general advice. Of course it was always back with talk to your city attorney, but it was, it was actually a great session, it was very relevant. And then, leading back into that, right behind that, we had Chad White.

Deb Heiser:

Chen Weinstein do our ethics, and so they played off each other a little bit with with what he had to say and what he had to say, and so an ethics for For those of us that are registered professional engineers, we need to have one in Minnesota.

Deb Heiser:

Yes, in Minnesota we need to have an ethics hours, where our renewals are coming up in June for our licenses and so we always have an ethics session. So but I thought it paired very well. They played off each other very well. I was. I thought they were excellent sessions. But then later in the afternoon and I'm not gonna look to you and to Richard I was doing a session so I wasn't able to go, but Jeff did a contracts 101 that I think was very well attended. That my one of my staff members went just to kind of go deeper into contracts and what to look for and what to have in the contract. Some.

Michael Thompson:

Yes, I was moderated in a different session. But I heard good things about that and then also George Hawkins did a breakout.

Deb Heiser:

Yes, in the room was Spilling over, and so people were just trying to get more of that, and I think that goes to show just the strength of the speaker that we chose, and People were looking for more and yeah, and the George's breakout session was about, you know, persuasion and in one of the things that we do in making normal happen, how do we talk about the things that we do in such a way that we're not gonna bore everybody with the technicals and do a lot of you know? Oh, the PFAS is this and the data is that and the Gantt chart looks like this. You know, talking about the why we're doing this so that you know, 40 years from now, this, this plant is gonna still be running and we're gonna have great water. We're doing this so that you know the water main, the water system, you can turn on your tap water and think about it. How do you tell those stories and the art of persuasion? We, we are humble.

Deb Heiser:

As a as a group a lot of times the public works staff, the engineers, are unsung heroes. I mean, you know we don't get capes right, so we are we?

Marc Culver:

most of us probably have capes at home that we wear, yeah.

Michael Thompson:

We know, you do, we know, you do.

Deb Heiser:

Anyway, but I think that that's what it comes down to, is that you know we, we are very, what we do is very important and it makes a difference. It's just it's hard to remember that we need to celebrate those things and Educate the public about.

Mark Ray:

You know it, drink, drive and flush is people don't even think about it, so one of the things I always like if you'll know any conference planning people is when non engineers come and speak and help provide that, that perspective, in that context. I always find those sessions, I think, not only informative, but it's it's that different way of trying to carry the message and and and just do the job, and so I was appreciate. Whenever I see somebody's like not an engineer or a public, I try to make those sessions, because it's always what are you saying?

Marc Culver:

that the engineers in the public works people are boring and not entertaining, and so I think Careful they're on some of our true.

Mark Ray:

And so, to the extent that we can, you know, break out of our shells and realize that in your point, that we can be. We need to be better communicators, but that's not something that's in the curriculum, right. We need to understand you know some critical thinking skills for problem-solving when you're trying to say how am I gonna deal with all this water stuff, managing a sequential way and deliver it. Yes, it's an engineering exercise, but we're also trying to deal with future regulations, emerging contaminants of concern. You know all these other little things that play into that. And how do you work that complex problem To deliver?

Deb Heiser:

and building on that. You know a lot of times if there's a water main break or in the case that was described by George, there was a water main break that became a sanitary sewer in people's basements. That was 253 properties and St Louis Park had a similar no, no no, no, we had.

Deb Heiser:

We had a similar situation with 55 properties with a water main break, with sanitary sewer in their back, in their basements. This is the worst time for those people, those property owners. And how do we have empathy, how do we, how do we manage that and recognize the human side but also get the wheels back on the bus? Those are all things that we do as public works professionals.

Michael Thompson:

So, yeah, I agree, when it comes to customer service, sometimes it's just empathizing with somebody's plight instead of just thinking like an engineer. Okay, this is how we're gonna fix it. Sometimes people just want to be heard, and I'll go back to George Hawkins, our keynote. We had another speaker, luke Fisher for the League of Minnesota cities, here earlier this morning and he's the director over there and he talked about culture. You know different cultures and cities and you aren't gonna make big changes, but it's just the small changes. So I think George Hawkins had mentioned Just coming into work early and then, instead of a suit, he started wearing the uniform that his, that his front line staff started wearing. Well, good, yeah, just like these two guys.

Mark Ray:

So so I think both wearing still toe boots right now, as a matter of fact.

Richard McCoy:

Well, why not still toes?

Michael Thompson:

Yeah, I yeah, don't look at my, don't pan down my dress. So, yeah, I think culture I mean it can be your customers, but also your employees, and and how do you look at ways of improving that?

Mark Ray:

What small things done often, right, I mean that's, that's what it is small things done often become a habit and can change the culture.

Michael Thompson:

Culture eats policy for lunch.

Mark Ray:

I think I remember somebody saying All right, all right, all right, great Well that's so true though I mean it sounds simple and trivial, but if you want to change organization or communicate, the UK care. It is literally in those small things that the dial is. Yeah and. I think that Sometimes it can get lost right and this is actually another great thing of just a conversation when the presenters come and talk about leadership and communication and culture at conferences. I think that's that's a great thing to hear.

Deb Heiser:

Well, and you know, the why statement. I'm not gonna plug scenic, but we have. We have, instead of a mission statement at St Louis Park, we have a why statement. We believe our public service makes a difference, and so you think about all the different reasons why you do what you do and why you, why you became a civil engineer. While you're still doing what you're doing as a profession, I see it that we can change the world, and in whether that's just by, I take, making sure the assets get logged right in cartograph so that future Deb knows where they are, or the future locator knows where they are, that's huge. Those stuff, that stuff is really huge because we could make it easier and it's gonna make the make it easier in the future for those future residents, for that, those future staff. So really, whether it's Creating a safer street, creating a sidewalk, creating a bikeway, replacing water means so that we don't have problems with Backups in the basements, those are all huge things for our public, for our customers.

Mark Ray:

Well, I think it's too it's. You know, I them all say for seven hours like I don't want my future self hating my current self for a decision I made today. Right, especially when you're an organization for 22 plus years. There's a very good reality. That, richard, well you know, it was like oh, what was I?

Richard McCoy:

thinking it's a good point, because I don't know how many times I curse my predecessors. You know, you know. I realized it was you and you're like, but 20 years the most like that were made 50 years ago. You're uncovering go. What the hell were they thinking when they did that?

Deb Heiser:

a perfect example is this led service lines in the inventories. We were hanging our hats on being able to go back to past selves to have documented that right seeing the as builds and such and the challenge is inherent with that, without for sure. Oh, we'll see it on the, as though we'll see it on, we'll see it in some sort of council. That so far, so far, so not so much.

Marc Culver:

So let's let's touch on it. So I think, moving from the conference to a recap of the episodes, our first episode in season two was talking about the service line inventory requirement, you know, with the intention of identifying led service lines for ultimate replacement. Where are your guys's organizations with that Plymouth? I have you guys just like made a general statement that we don't have any led service lines, or yeah, we're.

Michael Thompson:

we're one of the fortunate cities where we were built rather late, so on these laws went into place. The things that were installed didn't include that, but we're still going, working with the Department of Health, doing different surveys and spot checks and Going through all of that analysis. So Even if you don't think you have service lines, you still have to check, improve and document and go through the different submittal processes. So, but fortunately we don't have a heavy lift like some of the other, maybe first string suburbs or the Minneapolis and St Paul types.

Richard McCoy:

I see the the newsletter for Plymouth has got a little QR code that you can go in and self diagnose, like go in, take a picture of your, your service and send it off to wherever it gets sent off to often to the ether, I don't Know.

Deb Heiser:

That's why you're good G.

Michael Thompson:

I S Professionals good.

Richard McCoy:

G I S Professionals for that.

Deb Heiser:

Yeah, well, we're. The reason why I brought it up is that we started to work on this kind of game planning and I, we all had some brainstorming and we were fortunate we actually found from 1951 on a council agenda, and one of my, mark Elgard, one of our technicians, was doing some research On the recommendation the water serpentin was moved by the trustee to and second to, that all future contracts shall not have led. Wow, but we're working on if that really helps.

Deb Heiser:

That's 1951. We have pipes that were put in place in 35, but at least we could say most of the pipes in St Louis Park were installed in the 50s and 60s. We could say that we have a start date where we could have a some assurance. We are looking at doing that self diagnosis, we're looking at how that happens or working with our GIS group, we've been looking back on as bills but it's just not there. Only a couple and say, copper, you know what's the material? We were actually laughing. We were digging through some Storage room and we found all the Leroy's and all the, the Drafting tools. And you think about drafting a set of plans in 1935 or 1935, before CAD. I mean, every little thing had to be hand printed on those things and you know, maybe it was about that. But you know, we'll see, we're working on it, we're, we're being optimistic. So Do you have a plan? I mean you said you're starting to talk about it.

Marc Culver:

No, yeah, we have a plan. We're, we're, we're going to be rolling out that self reporting.

Deb Heiser:

We've got. We've been digging, we found some some trigger areas, some of the things that we've been doing. We found some some trigger areas where we think that there's some start stops. Um, mainly it's our public works. You know the utilities group, but engineering is helping out. You know, again, on the engineering director, we provide the service, we provide help. They're really operating making it happen. So, um, but it's, it's definitely something that we believe it can meet the deadlines. So, yeah, hopefully won't have too many unknowns.

Marc Culver:

Do you have any guesses to how many, what percentage of your lines might be?

Deb Heiser:

as long as we're talking about past people, we actually have from 1992 the then public work extractor. We have a study supposedly that was done that said we only had four and we replaced them. We can't find that study. We don't know what was that study was about. So we've got all this, this history that says that we've looked at this before and that was the other thing that we were Maybe cursing the previous people. But, um, we're working, we're working through it. Yeah.

Marc Culver:

How about robin?

Richard McCoy:

zoom. I'm feeling pretty good. Um, in 2019 we did a meter replacement program. Mm-hmm part of that made a replacement program was for the contractor to take photos of what they found, and we've got all that in a database. It's already being converted into GIS. How many services do you have? About 5100. And out of that I think we've got one lead service line, maybe a couple of hundred of galvanized iron and that's it, which is actually pretty remarkable because a lot of the services in our city date back to the 20s, mid 20s. Right.

Richard McCoy:

But we've only got record of one lead service so far.

Michael Thompson:

Awesome.

Mark Ray:

Britzels, yeah, we're in pretty good shape. We've identified a number I can't remember what the number is, but a number of properties that we're not sure that we could further investigation, work with those homeowners to find out more. You look at data. When I was in Crystal we actually have they had the original tie cards of every property and it was labeled oh it's money. It was on the tie card, and it was.

Mark Ray:

We already geotected from years ago as part of this larger effort. So there, our confidence level was Wow, because you could literally yep here's the date of install, who did it? Here are the swing ties to the curb stop, and here's the material. Here's the material, and so that's where it's. I think what I learned in that was you don't know what would be of value at some day in the future, and so how can we preserve information that's a report, that's not lost to time, that it's somehow accessible in the future, because you never know when I'll come back. So yeah, it's fascinating.

Marc Culver:

Hey everyone, I just want to take a quick moment to thank our sponsor, Bulton Mink, who is producing and editing our podcast.

Bolton & Menk:

At Bulton Mink, we believe all people should live in a safe, sustainable and beautiful community. We promise every client two things We'll work hard for you and we'll do a good job. We take a personal interest in the work being done around us and, at the end of the day, we're real people offering real solutions.

Marc Culver:

Alright, moving on to the recycling episode, which was episode two, season two. Here I mean, obviously the episode focused around my experience at Roseville with Eureka. But I'm kind of curious what your guys' communities, you know who you're using for recycling and you know what experience you've had with that and you know, have you been bitten by the swings in the commodity markets and that?

Michael Thompson:

Yeah, I can jump off here. So in Plymouth, when I first started there as the public work structure in 2017, our contract with Republic Services was just coming up for recycling. So we have contracted recycling with Republic. So at that time there was a contract extension provision. So we actually negotiated and extended the contract by six years.

Mark Ray:

That was an amazing contract, by the way, we wrote that recycling contract. I was standing you up.

Marc Culver:

Yeah, I Was that a sarcastic comment, it was me.

Mark Ray:

I was involved in the negotiations. Oh, oh, no Got it.

Michael Thompson:

But so that locked us in for six years, and that was all before the China sword. And China, you know, stopped accepting recycling or it had to be of higher quality. So we had locked in pricing for six years at great rates and really great rates.

Michael Thompson:

And so we just now I say oops for Republic, oh, yeah, yeah. So of course, you know, the contract comes up and we have the ability to extend again, and that was just this year. Our council took action on that, but one of the caveats was Hinnepin County has now required organics collection of all its cities, and without a whole lot of support, you know, funding or grant assistance. So cities are trying. Are you talking about an unfunded mandate? Yeah, imagine that in government, right. So cities are struggling. How do we do this?

Michael Thompson:

And so we looked at a couple different options to have our private trash haulers do that, working with the PCA on some different avenues. And then another option was to do organized organics, and so we negotiated with Republic to extend the recycling and then add organics in, and so we got some favorable negotiated rates and the council decided to extend that contract for four years. And so starting in March March 1st, if you're a Plymouth resident we'll be offering organics collection. So if you go to our website you can sign up and then Republic will drop off an organics bin.

Richard McCoy:

So it's a separate, smaller bin. It's a separate bin.

Michael Thompson:

It's a smaller bin and so we'll see how that goes. There's always, you know, there's going to be hiccups, but we've been working a lot on our newsletter and pushing this out through social media on how to sign up. So you know we have a good process down for overseeing our current contract through recycling. So we see that as just another piece of that contract. But of course, you know we spend staff time answering questions. You know we try to refer people to Republic via our contract terms. But you know organics has taken up quite a bit of staff time and fielding calls talking with council members. You know, just getting everyone updated. But we're excited to see how that all rolls out.

Mark Ray:

So does that mean then, see, because it's handled by the city. So then there's another line on the Every utility bill to pay for the organics portion, correct?

Michael Thompson:

Yeah, so right now it says there's a recycling item on the utility bill, so it will now be a bigger number, but it will say recycling and organics, correct.

Marc Culver:

Cool. How about Robbinstown?

Richard McCoy:

You know I'm not much of a help here, because the waste recycling and composting contracts are dealt with by the finance department. Really. Yeah, which is really odd, yeah, I don't really Lucky you, I guess.

Michael Thompson:

How do I? Sign up for that.

Mark Ray:

Tell me the ways, Richard.

Marc Culver:

Well done.

Mark Ray:

Yeah, bernsville. So we license haulers, and under our city code, actually under the county ordinance is if you provide trash service, you must provide recycling service as well, and so it's open hauling in the sense that residents can contract with who they want. However, all the trash haulers must provide recycling service, and then, from an organic standpoint, we have a collection point in the city. Currently, there are no haulers offering curbside service in Bernsville for organics.

Marc Culver:

Yeah, and Hennepin County is actually an anomaly. Ramsey County is working on it. There's a strong desire to get curbside, it's just they don't have the infrastructure. They're building the infrastructure to handle the organic collection there and there's a couple of trial areas. I think Maplewood's one of the trial cities and then one of the neighborhoods in St Paul not mine, of course they avoid me, I guess Smart.

Mark Ray:

I mean yeah.

Marc Culver:

Yeah.

Richard McCoy:

I recorded. I recorded.

Deb Heiser:

Yeah so it's a, there's a trend there.

Marc Culver:

It's a growing trend to offer it, and then the interesting thing for me to watch is how many are offering it as a bin versus the blue bag option, which is pretty common in some areas, and so it'll just be interesting to see how that.

Mark Ray:

Well, I mean, since we are the nerds, ladies and greatest, earlier this week, the MPC released their final version of the 2030 solid waste plan, and if you read through that, one of the things called out is curbside organic recycling, and so I wouldn't be surprised if there's this nice trickle down from the site.

Michael Thompson:

If I could just jump in real quick. Going back to organics, so Deb had said something. So organics and recycling so that's separate from trash pickup. So for trash for us or refuse hauling, we license haulers and that's an open system so residents can contract with whoever. But getting back to the organics piece, because I know a lot of cities when they try to organize trash hauling there's big political push from the haulers and others. You know people want their open choice. We thought we were going to run into some of that just with the organized organics. We were surprised when we didn't really hit that wall. We did a survey via flash vote and then also our own internal website survey and the majority of the respondents actually wanted the organized organics route. So we were a little surprised by that. So I think that was easier to get approved politically because we wanted to make sure we knew the temperature of the residents before bringing something to the council, because we didn't want to put them in a spot that would have been politically tenuous.

Deb Heiser:

So the reason why I whispered to Michael on that was that I know Bernstil is not organized, Robyn still didn't organize the collection. Okay and yeah, trash collection. So St Louis Park is organized and actually we were the first community to do organics recycling. Well, just brown.

Richard McCoy:

In the state.

Deb Heiser:

I mean catch up people. No, I'm just kidding, but like Richard, you know I know enough about this to be dangerous. Our, excuse me, we just renegotiated our everything our organized collection, our organics, our recycling and Republic Services does our organics. It's a company that is local, obviously, and the Buckingham Company does recycling for us and you know the challenge that we had was negotiating that. It was a lot of the same things. You know again that shared risk or a shared reward, and you talked about it on the revenue side.

Deb Heiser:

But it's a question of commercial. You know, finding drivers, it's what we're all seeing.

Mark Ray:

And not only that, but equipment. I mean you think about the lead time on it. Palau right now is three plus years. I can't imagine what it is for a trash truck. And then you talk about the different styles, right, because the way you handle an alley is different than the way you can handle just a street where you're doing curbside there. And I agree, I think that's what's is an industry. That's what's fascinating to watch is how that plays out.

Richard McCoy:

That's an interesting question. Plymouth doesn't have many alleys, right.

Michael Thompson:

Yeah, we are not like St Louis Parker, others that have the alley, we only have 20 miles of alleys Okay. So it's an interesting yeah.

Deb Heiser:

We still have some.

Richard McCoy:

Crystal had Crystal did yeah, so is your waist picked up from the alleys? Yeah, See that. I think that's a problem we're going to face. Going forward is wherever there's alleys, that's where the waist is picked up. But the technology is moving to the point where they don't want to do that anymore.

Mark Ray:

They want to pick up out the front Because you need two operators. You need somebody in the back to do the rear dump.

Marc Culver:

Where you don't, yeah, Well you know, I live in St Paul Lots of, lots of alleys and, as I said in the episode no two, it's like a snowflake. An alley is like a snowflake. There are no two alleys that are the same and Eureka actually went and found some smaller vehicles that could do the. You know, the side load arm, but is it from both sides? It's just one side.

Deb Heiser:

So yeah, you do have to go down the alley and then back up or you bring, but they have been.

Marc Culver:

some of the alleys are doing they'll go down each alley twice, you know. Oh just to get to each side so the driver doesn't have to get out. Because that's their goal. They don't want the drivers, they want to reduce the amount of manual labor involved with it. But I my home in St Paul has 30 steps to the to the street from my front door. So when before it was carts in my alley, when we at least 12 years, 13 years, it was like that I was all in the darn damn bins.

Marc Culver:

I'll say, but damn bins down 30 steps, you know, and then then back up the stairs.

Mark Ray:

You could have built a ramp, you do realize? Yeah, you're an engineer.

Deb Heiser:

Couldn't you have figured out some sort of gravity? It seems like a little pulley system.

Mark Ray:

Yeah, just duct tape to lift shot you are.

Marc Culver:

I would have drawn it up, but I wouldn't have built it yeah exactly. You design things, you know building, so anyway, it's, it worked once, right. Right, I'm going to use gravity. Yeah, it's, it's. It's interesting what recycling has evolved into and and how organics is is going to change that.

Michael Thompson:

But With organics too. I think one of the goals I think that Hennepin County had, at least with this mandate, was how do we pull out some of the, the things that we can use elsewhere to free up? You know, right now the big discussion is the Hennepin County Energy Recovery.

Michael Thompson:

Center town, the burner right, the trash to energy, and so how do we make that more efficient? And so I think the organics is one piece of many that many cities will have to take in order to change the industry, if big changes like that are going to be made, but that's going to be over a period of, you know, decades, yeah, Well, I think the big thing to think about, too is is how you?

Mark Ray:

there's a tendency to oversimplify things. We can talk about organized collection, but the reality, to your point, is that trash has to go somewhere. Is it going to the herk, is it going to landfill? Okay, and what is how the landfills can get full? And so what happens in Burnsville we have two one dump, one landfill that are unlined, and so that's something we're working with the property owner and with the state on trying to you know, come with the plan to get that lied, because it's right next to a river and there are other, you know, implications from that.

Bolton & Menk:

You just set that late shine, so it's right next to Minnesota River.

Mark Ray:

So it's. It's a layered, complicated thing that goes everywhere, and so how do we think of it from that? That whole like life cycle costs it, richard will build you a water treatment plan.

Michael Thompson:

It helps you out somewhere down there.

Deb Heiser:

Well, I mean so, just for people, that the herk is the Hennepin energy recovery center and it converts, it burns garbage to create energy, but there is plan to phase that out. And that's what we're kind of disilluding to is that the that's not doesn't mean garbage is going to stop or trash or was going to stop being created, but where does it go and how far does it have to be hauling? You look at greenhouse gas and you look at, you know, climate action plan and things like that. What, what are we doing? Holding?

Mark Ray:

distance. Yes, right, you know if you're trucking it somewhere. How is that truck powered? Where does the staff drive the truck? You know what are those cascading impacts, and so I think, the tendency of you to oversimplify things or hook onto the issue that's important, but it's actually a very large, complex problem that, I think is going to be a challenge for a long time and and a great topic for a future episode.

Marc Culver:

The third episode of this season, episode three of season two. We talked to Russ Mathis, who was the first of hopefully a few, at least a few of the APWA top 10 leaders from 2023 that we'll talk to, and we just talked to Russ a little bit about you know why he got the award? And turns out, he self applied for the award. Hey, so you just got to nominate yourself.

Richard McCoy:

That's true, yeah, being on the awards committee.

Marc Culver:

Yeah. Well that's what I yeah.

Richard McCoy:

The awards committee recommends folk to submit and I mean you can't get the submission unless they do a lot of the groundwork. The top 10 are always difficult to get people to agree to because there's a heck of a lot of work that goes into those submittals. So we try and help folk get those submissions in. But we've got great people at work here in Minnesota. They deserve to be recognized at a national level. So as the awards committee we just try and kind of gently push folk forward and help them with that.

Mark Ray:

So it's not necessarily a self and Russ's case, the first time I've said no, and so he was the next guy.

Marc Culver:

I'm glad you clarified that, because during the episode the way Russ presented it was like well, I guess I filled out the application.

Richard McCoy:

Well, yeah, they're going to fill out a heck of a lot of data. Because no one else knows what their career is like.

Marc Culver:

But essentially the awards committee or the local chapter of APWA. It nominated Russ and said hey, fill this out, because we want to nominate the award.

Deb Heiser:

And just to kind of clarify. So Richard is on the Minnesota chapters executive committee for the American Public Works Association.

Richard McCoy:

Get your title. Oh, my title, my gosh. I'm the director for public works. Director, city engineer.

Deb Heiser:

And so he was just newly elected this last fall. So just to kind of acknowledge that A very rigorous debate.

Michael Thompson:

Did you self nominate yourself for that? Yes, I did.

Mark Ray:

I think the other thing, though, to what you said earlier is just this whole like the humility side of it. And so, yeah, I don't doubt that Russ was like, well, I guess I nominate myself very, you know, trying to take a step back, and the humility comes with that, and that's just that's part of the challenge of telling the story and the things he's like. Well, yeah, I did it Like and today's still Friday, right, like there's no, there's no. Like, hey, this was actually cool, this was hard. I mean, I would look to Richard like executing this long term plan for a water treatment plant is no small feat, right, and so when his award comes up at some point in the future, hit. I, just like Richard said, we do a lot of really cool things and we are not good about talking about some of those, especially the time horizons that we do work over.

Marc Culver:

Yeah, we're good at talking about stuff, but but so within that, within that episode with Russ, we also talked about. Russ is the APWA representative on the state, a new state task force, asset management. Right, it's resilient infrastructure resiliency or something or other. I listen to the episode.

Deb Heiser:

It's a very important task, it is.

Mark Ray:

It's very important. The title is not the most important part of it.

Marc Culver:

But we did acronym, I'm sure. We talked about asset management, which was really a carryover from the episode that Russ was previously on this summer, this past summer, but within that episode we talked about the Infer, the asset Institute of Asset Management, which which was kind of born out of Great Britain, and while we were talking about that, we talked about Australia and the requirements for asset management and you clarified that we weren't part of the.

Richard McCoy:

British Empire, which I'm very thankful for. Yes. But not the British.

Marc Culver:

Empire.

Richard McCoy:

That's right.

Marc Culver:

So talk a little bit about not the empire or the Commonwealth so much, but you know how. What is the view of asset management in Australia and what are the requirements as far as you know?

Richard McCoy:

Well as asset management in Australia. Australia is asset rich but resource poor. Imagine a country that roughly the size of the US but instead of having, I know, 340 million, whatever the population is here We've got we just ticked over 27 million. So to get the Necessary funds and taxes and everything that you need to maintain all of the assets In a country that large is challenging. So that led the government to look into that a little bit more and basically double AS 27, which is a Australian accounting standard.

Richard McCoy:

Number 27 kind of came into play in the mid 90s and that that required governments to Report on the condition and the state of their saving for asset replacement. So it made a lot of Cities and other governments far more acute to the the issue of asset management. I think it kind of drags some of the elected members along too because, as we all know, sometimes you're getting in front of an elected body and ask for money to do work and I don't need to do that. Yeah, blah, blah, blah. But so here was some of the, the background that helped support the, the engineers and the public works folk to get up In front of these elected folk and say, look, we've done the numbers and here's the story. We need to start replacing this stuff. If we don't, it's gonna fail and then it's gonna cost us a whole bunch more.

Marc Culver:

No, Another interesting thing about Australia is You're required, it's it, it's illegal not to vote, or it's the law. You have to vote.

Richard McCoy:

You do right, you do you have to vote in local elections, you have to vote in state elections and you have to vote in federal elections. And what happens? If you don't vote, you get fined. How much? Well, it's only like 50 bucks or something, but so it's, you'll get fined. Yeah, I mean even if you go on fantastic.

Richard McCoy:

Yeah, even if you go up to the polling booth on the day, get your name crossed off, go and take your paper and vote for Mickey Mouse, doesn't matter, as long as you've done your Duty of going up and voting. Right, yeah, right, is it like a?

Marc Culver:

national holiday to on voting day. No, they vote on Saturdays, for goodness sake.

Richard McCoy:

Yeah, I do it in the middle of the week, bloody Tuesdays. Who votes on Tuesday? United States of America. No we vote on weekends and they'd have pre polls and all the rest. So if you work on a weekend, you can do your pre poll, but that's the way it works. What's?

Marc Culver:

what's? What's the pre? Can you other mail-in ballots? Can you other mail-in ballots, or you do that too?

Richard McCoy:

Yeah, I've actually sent ballots from here in the US and the I always enjoy the the upper house. The Senate paper literally would be half the size of this table. Wow. It's like a Tablecloth you can either vote one above the line or you have to vote. You have to number every single box below the line and normally that'll end up to about 150 boxes.

Deb Heiser:

Oh, it's like judges on the back of the ballot.

Marc Culver:

So the the items above the line are parties.

Richard McCoy:

So you get like to say what much for party. Party, or you can vote for individuals, yeah interesting elections here in the same Minnesota.

Mark Ray:

Please visit the Secretary of State website.

Marc Culver:

Down that rabbit hole. Yeah, but getting back to asset management, deb, you said you guys use cartograph.

Deb Heiser:

Yes, we use cartograph in St Louis Park. Actually, we started oh, oh goodness. We had something before and I've been at the city of St Louis Park for 10 years and when I got there they were looking for a new asset management because the previous company was not really Software. Companies have a unicorn, rainbows and unicorns sometime approach to their softwares, or they say they're going to do all this in the next version, so we did say a next version.

Deb Heiser:

I call that the unit unicorns and rainbows class. We went, started to go with cartograph and started building out that system. I believe it was 16 and we've got just a great group of asset. It's called infrastructure systems managers. So there are GIS professionals who take care of that and we have two people down in the public works who one of them does everything above ground. The other one does everything below ground and we have a GIS infrastructure systems in engineering that helps us with, like I said, for future, deb, and for future whoever's in the engineering department in public works, make sure that when we build something that as built actually is an as built, not a should have built and Gets that into the asset management, making sure that all the nodes and the dates and the materials and everything is is right. We are using that information. So currently, right now, we had a an unfortunate water main break in in 2023 that did flood the basements of 55 homes the second time you mentioned.

Deb Heiser:

I know, I know, but but that really we were able to use that as an opportunity to take a look at our whole system and really start talking about our assets and really we're just finishing up a report, or a officially up a study for the entire city to really look at the condition and risk For both our sanitary, sewer and water mains and we're going to be changing how we approach our capital planning using that that study. We the results. So we just got the final draft of the report. We started I think it was July and the asset manager was a huge part of that, being able to stand, understand the history of breaks we had a lot of history For the city back to the 90s and that was all part of our GIS and being able to say the age, the material, you know who is served to the consequence of risk.

Deb Heiser:

And so we have that report and we're going to be discussing this with our city council in the coming months to really talk about here our priorities based on consequence of risk. Here is our priorities based on, you know, potential for risk or potential for failure. So I said consequence was a risk, consequence of failure. I meant to say that. So really we're leveraging that asset manager, leveraging the, the cartographed, and we're going to be taking a look of not just at pavements but start to layer in our water and the prioritization of our water in a sanitary is part of our capital plan. Up until now, we've just been planning it based on pavement condition. So really changing how we approach that. Cool, michael, you guys use cartograph as well.

Marc Culver:

We do, yeah, so we started vetting.

Michael Thompson:

I believe it was in 2018, so about a year after I started. You know we had your standard GIS and whatnot, and you implemented card, did you? Did you implement cartograph at Maplewood?

Marc Culver:

Yes, so Maplewood, and then we've added different systems with you secretly work for Carter.

Michael Thompson:

I do not I do not, but but yeah, so our when we rolled it out, the focus was on capital assets. You know tracking the valves, the hydrants when did we maintain it? So having that historical record, and then you know street ratings, you know how do we track everything. But then we also Tied in the workflow component. So internal we have work service items where, if we have Hydrant flushing or things that we want to set up with a schedule, we can do that internally and it's very easy to create schedules for that. But what I've always told my staff is this is a tool. If it takes more time to put it into cartograph and we're not going to get as much out of it, don't use it. Only use it when you need it and when it's efficient. And one of the biggest successes with cartograph for us is we added the the C-click fix component, so it's a customer service reporting.

Michael Thompson:

So on our website or an app. You can go in and say hey, the snow plow hit my mailbox. Never happens in plummet, you know, but any issue, there there's probably a snow.

Deb Heiser:

It only happens on county roads.

Marc Culver:

Right, this year it's not happened this season, yeah, not this year. Right, richard? This year's?

Michael Thompson:

like 32 days old than anyway.

Michael Thompson:

So that's been really helpful just with workflow, because then A member from the public submits an issue, it goes to the right division, it gets taken care of. A great agreement with the public. And I think that's a great example of a great example. Recently, you know, I'm sure you all get a friendly email from a resident why haven't you done this or that? And it's taken so long and you haven't responded. Great example. I went into cartograph. I saw this resident has called in or wanted an issue fixed Six times in the last three months. We had all the records. We take notes on everything and then I could respond directly to him. Hey, we actually had a maintenance staff person out there. They told you what they were going to do in the timeline. We never had that before before. This person could be calling six different people from the city and we're all running in circles. But now it's very streamlined and efficient. So I credit a lot of efficiency with not only tracking assets but workflow or customer service.

Deb Heiser:

And that's huge, michael, because there's nothing worse. And I've gotten those phone calls. I haven't transferred five times. You know I always encourage my staff. It's important that you know. Maybe you don't have the answer, but don't just transfer them to another person. I'll call you back or I'll have them call you back with the answers. But I think that's a strength to be able to see who and when and why and where. That is something that our cartograph has as well.

Marc Culver:

I, we had cartograph from April Grove and I was there, I helped implement that and I don't work for cartograph and we use a different system in Roseville.

Marc Culver:

But I remember when we had that option and I was really reluctant to turn that on for the resident reporting and then like seeing the status and oh, I don't need to report this because it's already been reported, and I was really reluctant to do so because I was always worried about well, I think you made like a little side joke comment about it's been active for 39 days or something like that. That's what I was worried about, like if we don't get to something or we can't fix the problem, or you know, it's kind of like a back burner item that is still on this map and somebody's going to look at it. Oh my god, it's been on there for three weeks and they haven't fixed this. And I was just worried about like this accountability, I guess, and people like judging us for how quickly we would be able to. But you know, one of the sessions that you guys had mentioned from City of Shears was a Spart City. I mentioned that you just not your part.

Mark Ray:

Yeah, exactly the other speaker was amazing.

Deb Heiser:

Oh, those tree things was so cool, and Russell's amazing.

Marc Culver:

But you know, one of the things about you know we talk about smart cities and internet of things and connected devices and things like that is, you know, our residents, our constituents, are. They use their smartphone for everything. They're ordering food from it, they're dragging their litter boxes there. You know they're interacting with all these businesses and things through their phone or through the internet and there's an expectation that they can interact with their government in the same fashion. So I think it's. If you're not, if you don't provide something like that for your residents to report issues or to check on things, your residents are going to expect that and you really need to start looking at that.

Deb Heiser:

So fun fact C-Click Fix. When it first came on board, I found out that there were people reporting stuff in St Louis Park to it, but we weren't monitoring, so the residents believed that this is just a. It was years ago.

Marc Culver:

Right or the wrong city? Yeah, that was. The one thing that annoyed me is that you could report things to cities that weren't subscribing to C-Click. But I believe that was a marketing employee, so they could reach out and say, hey, people are reporting. It wasn't a stupid thing.

Mark Ray:

I think what Mike said was important, though, is from a data collection. Not only is important you know, mike spent 15 minutes logging something that took me 5 minutes but how is that data going to be used in the future and is that data worth it? I don't want to minimize the, you know, collecting it's not important, but think about that. And then, yeah, I mean, I think, with residents wanting to see a response, if it's sitting open for the extended period of time, how do you manage that? And that's not to say like, for example, we have a pedestrian crossing warning sign that was just, you know, smoked by a car. It's been like months trying to order the replacement pole and all the control stuff for it. Oh, it's an RFD, right? So it's all. What is the expectation on staff of, okay, we have this, we've ordered the stuff, like, do we need to keep updating? I get still waiting, you know. And how do you manage?

Richard McCoy:

that aspect of it. I think what you need to do is get some of that stuff in stock.

Mark Ray:

Well, that's funny because we've been going through them, because they well not this winter, but this fall.

Deb Heiser:

Maybe we should relocate that one. But it gets back to what Michael was saying. Is that explain the timeline? You know if you've got a call, I mean that's so important for customer service. It's like you know we hear you this is with that. But hey, you know it's January and we can't do it until yeah, we can't do it until May, but we'll be doing it in May as soon as we can. Now again, that doesn't always satisfy, but at least communicating that you know, communication that's huge.

Richard McCoy:

Richard, what do you guys use for asset management? We don't have a formal system. What. No, so what do you do?

Marc Culver:

It's called a cheaper file.

Richard McCoy:

Excel spreadsheet Excel spreadsheets, GIS layers in our system, and we do have a customer request form. It was something that Loge has put together for us and we actually have. One of the elements in that is you can put things on hold for seasonal requirements and what have you? In a normal Minnesota winter you'd never get a poll in the ground this time of year. So rather than have it hang out there for months before we can actually do work like that, that gets put on hold.

Marc Culver:

And Richard threw out Loge's, which is a complicated organization, but essentially it is a. It's an organization that was started as a like a joint powers of several cities to provide GIS and IS services a long time ago. Like they've evolved into a much larger animal, but a lot of the, a lot of the Hennepin County communities are used loges for GIS services and also other applications.

Deb Heiser:

And loges. St Louis Park is a loge city and just my husband, my husband is an IT professional and to be able to, when you look at a city the size of Roosevelt or you look at the city the size of little Canada or Robbinsdale, to really be able to have the network savvy to protect your network we also have police and there are a lot of requirements for you know to form factor extra requirements and to have that expertise in the job market for for computer professionals, it professionals. You know when your city manager is only making, you know 175 a year and you're. You know most people can't get paid more than their city manager. And you know to hire that talent, to hire somebody can do everything.

Deb Heiser:

It's hard so that's where the loges is and the the Metro Inets come in Metro Inets, a similar thing that city of Roosevelt put together 20 years ago.

Mark Ray:

I appreciate it. I appreciate the intro for a future conversation.

Deb Heiser:

I know, maybe I should invite Ter Heizer. I know, maybe I should invite Ter Heizer.

Mark Ray:

We're a staff on cybersecurity, yeah, and resources available to local governments.

Deb Heiser:

Yeah, I'm sorry, no, it's okay.

Marc Culver:

I agree, it's okay Well you told us unscripted. Yep and why it is. It is Now we are over, go ahead.

Richard McCoy:

I was just going to say don't don't think just because I don't have a formal system, I don't do asset.

Deb Heiser:

Oh, no, no, no Richard, no Richard. Of course we obviously are successful.

Marc Culver:

I mean just talking about your water treatment plants. You, you're clearly doing something and you're, you're thinking about.

Richard McCoy:

Let me cast your memory back to the 2005 national conference here in Minneapolis. Yeah, I presented a paper called making things happen. It was all about asset management. There you go, and then we're going to be on the same set then, yeah, we should show them.

Deb Heiser:

And I think that that gets back to, is asset management doesn't have to be cartograph, it doesn't have to be X or Z. It's about knowing, having a plan and implementing it and understanding what your system is. Well, it's in scale matters.

Mark Ray:

Yeah, For sure, Absolutely. I mean, if you're spending let's just pick a number a quarter million dollars a year, and this is not what crystal or burn's all spending on that. That's the. You only have so many resources and you have to be intentional about where you put that into action.

Deb Heiser:

I mean if it, if your system's 10,000 miles of water main versus 150 miles or 100 miles, whatever it's scalable.

Mark Ray:

And I would say it when we're in crystal is the same thing. Like we, we had GIS to track work orders and to know where our stuff is for that collection of data, but it wasn't late to 400 other different things. The point was our staff used an irregular basis. Everybody had to capture the information and that was that was the core need.

Marc Culver:

All right. So this is our. This is our first unplugged episode where over an hour in in material already. It goes quick when we're having fun or just swan yet you did bloody.

Mark Ray:

No, no, we don't consider this. Nope, you swore I was listening, Is that is that is?

Michael Thompson:

that the server. Throw it out there. Throw it out there. Come on, drop the bomb. No, no.

Marc Culver:

No, actually he did swear several times. We just edited it out, so it's the masterful editing it is. But yeah, this has been great. I I expect I'm hoping that we do this on a regular basis and hopefully wrap in some more current events and some news and and maybe get into some controversial items, maybe some things we don't all agree on I'm about to find something about that and we'll see. But this has been fun, this has been great. Thank you all for that. Doesn't think so much of the thing is funny Outtakes.

Marc Culver:

I'll open this All right, but thanks. Thank you all for joining me and hopefully we'll see you again very soon on this and for those of you before we go listening, if you've enjoyed this episode and the podcast in general I say it every episode we ask that you help us spread the word, particularly if you're on LinkedIn. That's kind of our go to social media site. You don't like it? Comment on it, share it. We're also trying to get more out onto Instagram and an X.

Richard McCoy:

Get the bloody word out.

Marc Culver:

Get the bloody word out. I like that. That might be our new catchphrase. Get the bloody word out. All right, thank you for joining us and we'll see you next time, nerds out الخ, annoying shit show.

Deb Heiser:

藏聽不了 avochorhin.

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