New England Chapter APWA
President's Message 2023
Happy New Year to all!
With the new year upon us, we should reflect on the past to learn and prepare for our future. It is an honor and privilege to serve the New England Chapter of the American Public Works Association as your president for 2023. Many before me have guided this organization since its inception; I am just one person in the long line of past presidents and leaders. I have been lucky enough to call many of them mentors, inspirators and friends throughout my career. I could not possibly touch upon everyone that has shaped my journey to this point, the list is long when you do this long enough. It gets to the point where they may ask you to leave.
It looks like we have finally put COVID-19 behind us. Or it is far enough removed that we can plan for it while limiting potential impacts to our lives. We will still utilize hybrid tools to communicate and engage our membership and executive committee because it makes sense and saves time and money. The Exec. Com. attempted to use remote communication prior to COVID-19 but it failed miserably a few years ago. In fact, I recently read that COVID-19 advanced remote working conditions in many sectors of business by more than five years when it first hit. Our Chapter will continue to utilize Zoom and/or MS Teams communications for at least five Exec. Com. Mtg. in 2023. While face to face will always be best for collaboration, Zoom and MS Teams save significantly on food, travel costs and rental space for our meetings.
Other than the remote communication for our Exec. Com. Meetings, the initiation of New England Chapter Connects has expanded our training and learning opportunities for our membership. The most recent New England Chapter Connects held in mid-December discussed Insights on Starting a municipal drone program and their usage in several business lines affecting the Chapter and Public Works in general. I am not implying that our face-to-face Conferences in the Spring, Summer and Fall are useless, far from it; however, New England Chapter Connects has provided an expanded offering on the days that they are held and can be linked to many attendees in Public Works Facilities in all of New England. Later on, there is an opportunity to reconnect through our website for future learning opportunities to view past sessions. We should recognize the Public Works Awareness Committee for the strong investment and support for New England Chapter Connects.
In 2023, the Chapter partnered with our VT Directors for the Vermont Municipal Equipment Show and Field Day (VMESFD) in Barre, VT. There were over 55 vendors and 500 registered attendees on a beautiful day in May. The event was so successful that the VMESFD offered a follow-up Technical Session in Greenfield, MA in November to initiate a new ‘Northwest’ Committee to attract other groups for membership in Northern CT, Western MA and Southern VT & NH. There were 30 attendees discussing GIS Applications for Snow Plow Routes and Engaging/Retaining workers in some of our remote areas of Western New England. Lunch was provided and a spirited discussion was had by all in attendance. We hope to continue to promote this event and attract new members through this venue. Spread the word, invite others and get involved with the Chapter any way that you can do it.
Just after the VMESFD was held in May, the National Public Works Week Luncheon took place on May 18th at Granite Links Golf Club. Who can forget the tremendous views of the Boston Skyline from Granite Links or that Rich Benevento had car trouble and was unable to present the Awards at the luncheon. Rich had the foresight to contact his team at WorldTech to pick up the box of awards and his 3-ring binder with his speech and deliver them to me at Granite Links. You should also know that I did the best that I could to pare down Rich’s 14 page, 45 minute speech and to eloquently paraphrase the primary focus of the event: To recognize and celebrate Public Works. I did the best I could and paraphrased certain elements and got the message across. Few people knew that our Member of the Year, Adam Yanulis, was born in a manger.
We had a successful Summer Conference June 15-17, 2022 at the Red Jacket in Yarmouth but the RJ has been sold. For 2023 & 2024, we will be shifting the Summer Conference to the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in Falmouth. The Planning Committee will be working on the Education program when the Abstracts are selected in January and all of the same great Cape Cod activities will be planned for June 21-23, 2023 at the Sea Crest.
When the end of summer in ‘23’ approaches, PWX will be upon us in the great City of San Diego, CA. PWX was previously held in San Diego (but known as Congress) in 2003. Consider traveling in advance and putting some well-deserved vacation time in to explore the west coast with the event scheduled for Aug. 27-30. Our advance ‘scout’ team just returned from their planning trip to identify the recommended hotel and other Chapter event locations. The scout team will be providing suggestions and options to the Executive Committee at our meeting in January. Once we know, we will share with our membership to facilitate your planning activities.
In closing, I want to recognize the recent passing of a close friend and friend to all of Public Works, Dave Hanlon. Dave was a longtime public works director, nationally recognized for his leadership and more greatly regarded for his friendship. He spent 40 years carrying the torch for public works throughout New England during his public sector career. He was a Director on the New England Chapter Executive Committee for 15 years and served as Chapter Chaplain for many years as well. He will always be remembered for his charisma, charm, and dedication to the Public Works industry. There has been no better friend and no better supporter of public works and the New England Chapter!! He will be greatly missed. Please keep Dave’s family in your thoughts and prayers.
John J. Bechard, P.E.,