Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Mayor Joe Gibbons proclaimed May 19 – 25, 2019, as “National Public Works Week” throughout the city of Lenoir. This week is set apart to thank public works staff for everything they do. But what is Public Works?
Public Works is sanitation. When the garbage truck rolls by and picks up your trash every week, that’s the Public Works Department. The Sanitation Division removes bagged yard waste and provides leaf collection in the fall. The division also operates the city Recycling Center on Pennton Avenue.
Public Works is streets. The state Department of Transportation handles state streets such as Morganton Boulevard and Blowing Rock Boulevard. The City handles city streets such as Harper Avenue, Mulberry Street, and Hospital Avenue. If a street starts and stops in the city limits, it’s most likely a city street.
The Street Division maintains and repairs 124.96 miles of paved and 2.69 miles of unpaved streets in Lenoir. The division stripes city parking lots and provides snow removal. They maintain and build city greenways and remove residential brush. The Streets Division also maintains city rights-of-way and the storm drain system.
Public Works is cemeteries and public spaces. The Cemeteries and Downtown Grounds Division maintains three city cemeteries. Bellview, Blue Ridge, and Fairfield cover about 30 acres. Staff manages sales of grave plots and markers. The Cemetery Division also coordinates the annual luminary display to honor those buried at Blue Ridge Memorial Park.
The division also maintains public spaces in downtown. Staff clean sidewalks, pick up litter, mow grass, and tend all the beautiful flowers and garden boxes.
Public Works is Building Maintenance and Vehicle Services. Building Maintenance maintains and makes repairs to the City’s 45 public buildings and facilities. They fix plumbing, service HVAC units, repair electrical, remodel, and more. Building Maintenance also works on public projects. They helped build Unity Park & Community Gardens and the Caldwell County Charters of Freedom.
The Vehicle Services Division keep all the city trucks and engines running. Garage staff service more than 500 cars, trucks, utility vehicles, and various small engines. They tune lawn mowers and weed eaters. The division also keeps all those engines fueled. They provide gas and diesel for city trucks and several county fire departments and rescue squads.
Public Works Director Jared Wright said his staff does a lot of work with little fanfare.
“You may not notice it, but this work is essential to our community,” Wright said. “We provide and maintain decent roads. We maintain spaces that the public can visit and enjoy. We collect garbage. We clean the streets. Some people take these jobs for granted, but you would notice if they were gone.”
City of Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons says if you need to get something done, call Public Works.
“I’ve always said that Public Works is the glue that holds everything together in our city,” Gibbons said. “If we’re having an event or festival or working on a public project, then Public Works is likely involved.”
Public Works staff step up and pitch in whenever called upon by other City departments. They help hang decorations during Christmas. They make sure the power and water is working during festivals. They stay late and come in early to clean city streets after events. They get the job done.
“I appreciate everything our Public Works Department does for the city,” Mayor Gibbons said. “They do so much to make things happen, and they’re always willing to help with anything we need. It’s a great department full of great people who care for Lenoir.”
“The City Public Works Department is a group of dedicated individuals acting as team to make all these things happen,” Wright said. “I encourage everyone to take a moment to wave at that City truck as it passes you. The driver is doing something good for your community.”