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Public Works: All You Cannot See

“We worry about all of Globe,” says John Angulo, Public Works Director. 

From parks to potholes and the new pool, water, sewage, city facilities, Public Works is a part of almost everything happening in the City of Globe. They manage the fleet of city vehicles and the safety of streets for outdoor events. In recent natural disasters, the role of Public Works ranged from sandbags to helipad maintenance. 

“We get called to help,” says David Kemp. “We’re the ‘do it all’ guys – plumbing, construction, carpentry.” 

There are up to 34 employees in the Public Works department; together they take care of Water, Streets & Parks, Wastewater Management, Facility Maintenance, Fleet Maintenance & Engineering. 

“If all those people were cutting weeds and doing maintenance work we’d probably be sitting fairly well,” says John, “but that’s not the case.”

There are only 16 employees doing the physical work of the city.  Cracksealing can consume 8 of them. 

Support for Public Projects

John Angulo has seen more council and mayoral support for public projects in the past five years than in his 26 years in the city. He wants his department to be ready.

“We want people to come to Globe,” says John, “and we want them to want to come back.”

Managing a multi-functional department that provides ongoing essential service, executes on special projects and responds to emergency services is “a balancing act” John says.

“We do the best we can with what we’ve got,” he says, “but don’t make a schedule or you will be disappointed.”

If there was vandalism overnight at the park, that becomes a priority. The crew can’t crack seal in the rain. The sandbagging machine is idle right now, but soon they’ll anticipate the flooding. Culverts must be cleared before monsoon season. Maintenance runs constantly, but if there’s a water line break, there goes the crew.

“We’re known for moving bodies around as needed,” says John.

Short-staffed with COVID, the Water Department helped out at the dog park. When there’s a big project at Besh Ba Gowah, they help out there.

“Some people say just get more DOC crews working on it, but it’s not so simple,” John explains.

Pre-pandemic, city work crews were supplemented by up to 21 Department of Corrections (DOC) inmates.  Currently, they have only six. The process of clearing inmates for the work program has been slowed and issues of training and transport within COVID restrictions have further constrained their use. This year John will focus DOC crews on special projects, like assisting Streets & Parks to ready Round Mountain for the Sunrise Challenge. 

“I learned what I learned by being a part of every group,” he says. “That’s something I try to instill in my team.”

The Streets & Park Department has an 8-man crew led by Supervisor Richard Thomas.  They service 85.43 miles of Globe roads and more than 2600 street signs. There is a two-man crew responsible for 12 parks and 10 baseball fields. They maintain the grounds, service the bathrooms, abate graffiti and more. More than 7000 graves in Globe Cemetery are maintained by one employee. 

Fleet Department services approximately 150 city vehicles and large equipment with a 4-man crew including the supervisor. 

The Water Department is on call 24 hours a day. They maintain the city’s 7 wells, 9 storage tanks, and nearly 95 miles of waterlines, including a water main that runs through the door windows of a Ford Model-T. During the fires last summer, the team turned the water toward the Hagen tanks and kept the pumps running full throttle 24-7. 

“We worked through the fire, through the floods and COVID,” says David Kemp. “A lot of people worked from home. Not us.”

David has been with the City of Globe for 24 years. He shares an office with Vincent Mariscal, Water/Wastewater Facility Manager. 

“Overall, we are responsible for providing the city with quality water, providing fire flows for emergencies and on the waste end, to provide treatment to the sewage water before it is released into our country’s waterways,” Vincent explains. 

Globe’s wastewater treatment plant is operated by two dedicated employees. It has become the standard-bearer for the company that supplies it.  

“We’re pretty high-tech for a small town,” Vincent says proudly. 

Master of Special Events

Public Works employees, Adolfo Ortiz and William Crenshaw work on a water main break. Courtesy photo

Throughout his career, John Angulo has worked in all areas of Public Works.

“Everyone’s always known me for special events,” says John; his eyes light up. “If I’m out in public and I’m not in a vest, they’re not going to recognize who I am.”

Even before crews got paid overtime for special events, like parades and Halloween parties, John was there. It’s a job he’s had a hard time letting go of as he moved up the ladder.

“Working those special events, you become part of the community.”

As Director of Public Works, John’s mornings consist of communications. He begins by checking in with his office mate, Superintendent of Parks & Streets, Richard Thomas. Then he walks across the parking lot to check in with the “water guys,” (complaints, concerns, streets closed, water disruptions), then over to Fleet Maintenance (Steve Wolfe). 

“He listens to us and trusts us to handle our projects.,” says Vincent. “He doesn’t micromanage.”

Next, John heads over to City Hall to coordinate with the city manager, Paul Jepson, and update him on the status of various projects and concerns. After that, he might stop by and check on the remodel of the police station. 

“It’s not a must-do, but if there’s a problem, it’s going to come back to us,” says John.  

It’s a recurring theme for the Public Works Director. Look for problems before they happen. Consider long-term maintenance before a building, pool slide or sun sail goes up. Monitoring the budget is also a big part of his job; he sees all bills from all departments and makes a phone call when an expenditure stands out. 

“We definitely don’t want to go back to council if we overrun our budget,” says John solemnly.

John Angulo, Public Works Director, has seen more council and mayoral support for public projects in the past five years than in his 26 years in the city. He oversees a staff of 34 employees who take care of Water, Streets & Parks, Wastewater Management, Facility Maintenance, and Fleet Maintenance & Engineering. Photo by LCGross

 

John began his career on the back of a garbage truck in 1996.“If you came out late with your garbage, we got to know each other,” says John. “As funny as it seems, you got those personal relationships; you knew everybody.”

When sanitation services were outsourced, he says, city workers lost the human connection with community members.

“I think we lost some of our humanity,” John says. “We’re getting it back. “

With work beginning on the trails, the pool, and the parks, he says, the public sees there’s something happening in Globe.

“That’s exciting,” says John. “The continuity, the collaboration has come back.“

Public Works has collaborated on plans for the pool (water line rerouted), playground equipment (they’ll spread the chips), and the outdoor space at the Globe Public Library. John is frequently tapped in meetings with Linda Oddonetto, Economic Development Director, and Jerry Barnes, City Engineer as they bring new developers to town. 

“I am grateful for that because I don’t like being brought in after the fact,” he laughs.“If it’s not done effectively for the long term, we have a maintenance concern.” 

Public Works has been a big part of I ART Globe’s StairArizona project that encompasses 5 staircases and 3 footbridges. 

“It’s a good project to show what the guys are capable of getting done,” says John Angula, “but also the importance of public support.”

“We met with John and Richard Thomas a number of times on the stairs, and they made tons of great suggestions,” adds Thea Wilshire, founder of I ART Globe. “We organized artists and volunteers and Public Works stepped up to not just clean and maintain the trails, as they were already doing, but to make them better.”

Globe Public Works did the heavy lifting to restore the stairs at the back of the old SilverKing property. L-to-R Uriel Perez, Richard Thomas, Noe Perez, Ramon Guerero . Not pictured: Ubaldo Ortiz, Angelo Riley and John Angulo.

When the city wanted to get its ballpark back on Noftsger Hill, Public Works went “above and beyond” in creating a new dog park, according to Thea, a community leader on the project. They could have just put in a faucet, but they found an old fire hydrant and made that the water source. They made a bone-shaped bench.

“There is creativity and love in the projects,” says Thea. “it shows they’re proud of what they do.”

The city got a $10K grant from APS for trees, and new trees have been planted throughout the city, on the perimeter of the Public Works office site and K-9 Mine Bark Park. According to Tree Cities of the World, trees yield 3–5 times their cost in overall benefits to the city.

“It’s just a good feeling,” says John. “I love trees.”

 

National Public Works Week 

 

“I’ve been rewarded for my efforts over the years,” John says. “I want to share that and encourage others..”

May 15-21 2002 is National Public Works Week. This year’s theme is “Ready & Resilient.” For those working for the City of Globe, it’s just a day’s work. Which sometimes last all night long. On a Thursday night in late February, a leak discovered at 10:30 pm kept the crew busy until 5 or 6 in the morning.

“Nights like that you work all night and come back at regular hours and do your shift,” says David Kemp,  

So how does a hard-working Public Works team seek recognition?  A banner. A t-shirt. A pizza party.

“Small things go a long way for the worker guy,” says Vincent.

 

 

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