August 20, 2007

The City of Howard Lake

By Jenni Sebora

Every city and its facilities and grounds have to be maintained. It is the city maintenance – public works department – that is making sure this happens.

Howard Lake public works director Tom Goepfert knows very well all of the duties that the public works department is in charge of.

Goepfert has been working in the maintenance department with the City of Howard Lake for 18 years and has worked his way up to the position of public works director.

Under Goepfert’s direction, the city has an assistant sewer and water operator, and a buildings and grounds superintendent also. The positions help Goepfert delegate all of the required duties.

Much of Goepfert’s knowledge comes from hands-on experience, but classes in the area of waste water treatment are required yearly.

Maintaining the city’s water system is one of the major tasks of the department and is an ongoing process, Goepfert noted.

“We have to make sure the water is treated properly and make sure the city has safe water to drink,” Goepfert said.

Water treatment includes the addition of fluoride and chloride to the water. Hydrant flushing is also a task that is done regularly.

There are rehabilitation projects presently going on with the city’s water system. New water lines and new hydrants are currently being installed.

On the receiving end, wastewater has to be treated appropriately also, Goepfert noted.

Sewer cleaning, lift station cleaning, and maintenance are ongoing tasks. Goepfert noted that the lift station is checked weekly to make sure it is clean and free of debris.

The city is in the beginning stages of obtaining upgrades for the wastewater treatment plant.

The newest piece of equipment installed in the city was a water tower in 2000.

The rule of thumb from the Dept. of Health is that a water tower should have one and a half days worth of water in storage, Goepfert noted.

Maintenance of streets, buildings and grounds is another major job on the maintenance department’s “to do list.”

Maintaining the city parks and playgrounds falls under this umbrella as well.

The Lions Park and Memorial Park are the two major parks in the city that are maintained by the city staff.

A new playground/city park in the Lake Ridge housing development is currently being added.

In other newer housing developments, there are a few primitive parks that the city maintains also.

These parks consist of trails and natural surroundings that require maintenance, such as lawn mowing and tree trimming.

Each season brings its own set of tasks to be completed.

Lawn mowing, tree trimming, mosquito spraying and weed control are all part of the warm weather tasks. Snow plowing is a major job in the winter season.

As mentioned, Goepfert doesn’t do all of these tasks alone. Tim Kosek is the buildings and grounds superintendent. Jordan Plotz was recently hired to replace a staff member as the assistant sewer and water operator. He also performs park and street work. Judy Goepfert is a part-time employee that works with the department also.

Rain or shine, snow or sleet, the public works department in Howard Lake is busy at work making sure the city and its facilities, grounds and streets are maintained.

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