Through changing and uncertain times, residents staying safe at home can retain a sense of normalcy knowing they’ll always have their trash and recycling picked up each week, clean water to wash their hands with, and safe road conditions for when they go out and make essential trips.
These are just a few of the essential services that Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works (AACDPW) is providing continuously throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring they are properly operating and available and accessible for all who rely on them every day.
May 17-23 marks National Public Works Week, a time to appreciate public workers and shine a spotlight on the work they do that often goes unnoticed, and this year’s theme of “The Rhythm of Public Works" fits with the times because the public workers at AACDPW haven’t missed a beat over the last few months.
“Our public workers, especially in an all-hazards emergency like this, serve as a different type of first responder,” said Matt Diehl, public information officer for AACDPW.
Whether it’s conducting construction on new capital projects, managing the county’s wastewater system or repairing and protecting local watersheds, it is these public workers operating, maintaining and managing all the vital services a community depends on.
While AACDPW remains out in the community every day keeping the county moving, Diehl stresses that employee and public safety remain top priority. AACDPW recently contracted with a Glen Burnie seamstress to make enough cloth facemasks to provide five masks per public-facing worker. Plus, the public workers adhere to social distancing guidelines and protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Anne Arundel County Health Department by working A/B shifts – they perform onsite for one week and then go on administrative leave the following week.
“This scheduling keeps the same crews together and limits contact while still maintaining enough staff to keep critical efforts and infrastructure functioning during the state of emergency,” said Diehl.
While this has been a big change for the public workers at AACDPW, they have taken this new rhythm in stride thanks in part to the support and understanding from Anne Arundel County residents.
“I could not be more proud of our team,” said Chris Phipps, director of AACDPW. “It is times like these that we can truly appreciate how critical Public Works is in keeping whatever normalcy remains in our daily lives. Also, I would like to thank the residents for their patience and commitment during these unprecedented times.”
Over the past couple months, residents have expressed their gratitude to public workers in many ways. Some have donated handmade masks and written letters; others have simply shown patience as AACDPW reworked their schedules and priorities to ensure employee safety.
“It means a lot that they recognize everything our workers are doing,” said Diehl.
Diehl encourages residents to continue showing their appreciation of public workers during National Public Works Week and beyond by sharing stories of how AACDPW helped them and using the hashtag #DPWandYOU on social media.
Any residents with questions about AACDPW services and safety measures can visit www.aacounty.org/departments/public-works. For frequent updates and tips on helping maintain the community, follow AACDPW on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.