Local Government 105

By Mike Barhorst - Contributing columnist

Basic utilities, such as water, sewer, stormwater and solid waste collection are important services provided to you as a Sidney resident. So too are well-designed, constructed and maintained streets and bridges. Snow and ice control, traffic control devices, mosquito control and care of our urban forest are also services that residents and businesses have come to expect. Then add Shelby Public Transit, the Sidney City Airport and the maintenance of the city’s fleet, and you have an idea of all the services that fall under the auspices of the public works department.

In this article, I’ll attempt to provide an overview of the many divisions within the public works department.

The engineering division provides construction and design services, development plan review and inspection, and maintains infrastructure records of all projects — public and private. The engineering team works with citizens and all city agencies in regard to traffic operation, right of way issues, streets, sidewalks, curbs, pavement management, drainage, utilities, communication, and emergency operations.

This division was dramatically downsized during the Great Recession, with most of the design work outsourced to Choice One Engineering. That practice continues, although many projects are now being designed in house.

The street division provides roadway repair and paving, street sweeping, leaf removal, snow and ice control, traffic signal repair, traffic control devices, and traffic signs. This division includes street maintenance, traffic control, urban forestry, and mosquito control.

This division also operates and maintains a yard waste compost site and coordinates the popular leaf mulch and wood chips giveaways twice per year. The street division also provides yard waste pick-up for residents during the months of December through April. Oversized vehicle permits and residential handicap parking applications are also processed by this division.

The street division is also responsible for maintaining the approximate 3,000 trees planted in the tree lawn along city streets and roadways as part of the city’s Urban Forestry Program. You may have noticed that a number of trees were recently added along city streets. These were provided through a grant from DP&L.

The utilities department is subdivided into three divisions: Water Treatment, Wastewater Treatment, and Underground Utilities. Because these three divisions provide multiple services, I plan to share a more in depth look at each in future articles, but this is a quick glimpse at the services that each provides.

The Water Treatment division is responsible for providing a quality supply of drinking water at sufficient levels for residential, commercial, industrial and fire-fighting purposes. For more than a century, the City’s water supply has been taken from the Great Miami River and Tawawa Creek. With the current ground water source project nearing completion, this division will be working to integrate the raw water from the new, underground source into the production schedule.

The Wastewater Treatment division is responsible for properly removing the contaminants and treating residential, commercial and industrial wastewater or sewage. The Wastewater division also monitors stormwater and industrial pre-treatment programs.

Underground Utilities includes Sewer Collection, Sewer Inflow & Infiltration, Stormwater Maintenance, Water Distribution, and Water Metering. Underwater Utilities maintains all below ground infrastructure that most residents never think about until there is a water main break, sewer collapse or some other service disruption.

The Public Works Director also monitors the solid waste collection contract. The City currently contracts with Republic Services to provide curbside trash and recycling collection. Republic Services also provides weekly yard waste collection from May through November.

The Public Works Director also oversees the Shelby Public Transit system. Shelby Public Transit operates under an agreement with the Shelby County Commissioners. It provides demand-response, origin to destination public transportation in the City of Sidney and throughout Shelby County. Connecting service is also available to Miami County. Frequent readers will recall that I highlighted the transit services in a previous article.

Sidney City Airport is likely one of the best municipal airports in the region! The Sidney City Airport was started as a privately owned airstrip in 1956 and was deeded to the City of Sidney by a group of local citizens in 1963. The airport is operated under an agreement with Aerotech Aviation, the current fixed base operator.

Last, but not least, to provide these extensive services, the City must have a ready fleet of vehicles. Fleet Management is tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the City’s fleet, which includes more than 250 units.

This is a very brief overview of our Public Works Department. As promised, I will go into more depth on the water, wastewater and underground utilities divisions in future articles. Until then, I invite you to explore the City’s website (www.sidneyoh.com) to learn more about the extensive services provided under the auspices of the Public Works Department.

In the coming weeks, we will explore each of these divisions in more detail, beginning with Water.


By Mike Barhorst

Contributing columnist

The writer is the mayor of Sidney.

The writer is the mayor of Sidney.