First year is in the books as Public Works Director for Sleepy Eye

Mike Hardin, Public Works Director

My first year as Public Works Director is in the books, and what a crazy year it has been. The year started out with learning the basics of the operational and financial side of the Public Utilities, figuring when or when not to declare snow emergencies throughout the city, along with helping to get construction plans finalized and ready to go out for bids. Once plans were finalized, the two construction projects went into the bidding process, and in the end, bids were awarded to two local contractors. 

Then, along came COVID-19 and threw a wrench into just about every aspect of this job, as it did to many other jobs. We had to sit down as a team and figure out what would be the best way to keep the city departments running safely and effectively. We began with staggering shifts with our staff, closing facilities, limiting visitors to city buildings, and conducting just about every meeting virtually. Looking back, I think there are a few things we may have done differently, but all in all I feel we handled the situation well with the information we had at the time. 

Along came the nice spring weather and construction began on both the Street & Utility project and the 12th Avenue & St. Mary’s Street project. This meant daily visits with contractors, along with weekly meetings to discuss progress from the previous week and what was planned for the following week. Weather cooperated and construction season went smoothly. It seemed like before I knew it construction work was wrapping up for the season. 

Throughout all of this I was able to take a leadership course offered by Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association, which was supposed to consist of two days of classroom every three months. Once again COVID-19 threw a wrench in that as well. Our first session back in March was held in the classroom, but after that all other sessions were held virtually. 

Even though it was a crazy, challenging year, it was an enjoyable year getting to learn new responsibilities and meet several new people.

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

As always, if you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact me at 794-4371.