President's Message

New England Chapter APWA

President's Message 2020

As I sit on my back deck on a beautiful June morning, I look out over all the beautiful flowers in the garden and the trees that have come back and I consider all of the things in our world that did not spring back into play this year. 

As my presidency began, it seemed like we were going to proceed with a very exciting year.   

The National Emergency Management Committee inquired if the New England Chapter would be interested in attending and speaking at this year’s American Meteorology Society’s (AMS) meeting in Boston.  We accepted the invitation and joked with the organizers, “What were they thinking, coming to Boston in February?”  As it turns out, the dates they were in Boston were among the warmest in history, with the temperatures reaching the high sixties.  Rick Stinson, Bill Hadley, and I attended the meeting and very much enjoyed our time spent with AMS.  

Who would have thought that soon afterwards, New England, the country, and the world would be experiencing the effects of a worldwide pandemic, COVID-19?  The pandemic very quickly turned our sense of normal upside down.  As members of Public Works, we prepare for your typical natural disasters such as flooding, blizzards, tornados (a new norm in New England), hurricanes, and increasingly creative phrases like the perfect storm and bomb cyclone.  We are also accustomed to preparing for the financial impacts of our fiscal cycles, the fluctuations of good times and prosperity and the down times of financial uncertainties.  

No one expected a worldwide pandemic that would bring us all to our knees.  Now, the norm is social distancing, wearing face masks, communicating with friends and colleagues on this new thing called Zoom, and in most cases, working from home.  Plus, it’s impossible to tell if someone is smiling or otherwise happy or sad with a face mask. 

As members of Public Works, we are an essential service that provides the necessary functions of society to ensure clean environmental necessities and maintain a very important transportation system.  These essential services are done in order to support the other fundamental services, health care and public safety.  Mottos created here within the New England Chapter have never been more aligned with our mission: “Public Works Makes It Happen,”“Public Works: The Silent Arm of Public Safety,” and “Public Works Gets it Done.” 

I commend everyone that has helped the New England Chapter bring national awards home.  More importantly, I commend the people of our Chapter and the projects that made the awards possible.  The hard work of the Public Works Awareness Committee, the Young Professionals, the Diversity Committee, the Executive Board, and all other committees behind the scenes, you have kept the Chapter moving forward until we can all get together without social distancing regulations.  We have temporarily put a hold on Chapter functions like the Spring Conference, the Public Works Week Member of the Year and Awards Luncheon, the Summer Conference on the Cape, the Bud McDougall Memorial Golf Tournament, PWX New Orleans, the Fall/ Snow and Ice Conference, and the Snow Plow Roadeo.  Looking forward, we are still planning on hosting our annual Holiday Party in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in December, where we hope to put the pandemic behind us and enter into the new normal.  

I stand proud to be your president, the best Chapter in all of the APWA.  I wish everyone to be safe, be kind, and to help others as we always do. 

Richard “Chip” Barrett, PWLF

President NEAPWA Chapter



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