Thurston County News


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Meghan Porter

Bryan Dominique

Monday, May 20, 2019
Thurston County Celebrates National Public Works Week
By April Leigh, Education & Outreach Specialist – Public Works Department

​Thurston County is joining local governments from across the nation May 19-25, in celebration of National Public Works Week. Several activities and events are planned during the week including an official proclamation by the Board of County Commissioners recognizing the contributions of public works professionals.

"To the men and women in our public works department, I say thank you very much," said Commission Chair John Hutchings. "Our public works professionals are the best in the business. In February 2019 when our county was blanketed with snow and people were without power, it was our public works staff who answered the call. They worked around the clock for eight days to clear miles of roads of snow and debris. In addition to clearing county roadways, the crews cleared 129 sites of downed trees that fell under the weight of the snow, causing road closures and several power outages."

In addition to the proclamation, public works staff will be recognized with employee appreciation parties and an official Wear Orange to Work day on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Members of the Thurston County Public Works Road Operations and Maintenance staff will also be conducting the annual ROADeo on Thursday, May 23, where road crew participants test their skills by maneuvering machinery through obstacle courses for a chance at state and national titles.

Public works professionals include those who manage water, sewer, stormwater, public transportation, and refuse removal systems as well as those responsible for maintaining public buildings and grounds. They are, in short, the people who maintain and improve the systems and services vital to a community's health, safety and comfort.

In unincorporated Thurston County, Public Works maintains 1,038 miles of road, 118 bridges, 106 miles of sidewalks and more than 17,000 traffic devices. The department is also responsible for the operation of the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center, two refuse drop-box locations, four wastewater systems and three water systems. In addition, public works staff manage 2,645 acres of parks land, 93 acres of lakes, 57 miles of river and 56 miles of trails.

"I am proud of the commitment our public works staff have to the work of keeping our county infrastructure safe and in good condition, as it is also our commitment to provide great level of services to our citizens" said Thurston County Manager Ramiro Chavez. "As a testament to their commitment, our Public Works Department is receiving both a state chapter and national American Public Works Association Project of the Year award for the Fish Passage Enhancement Program; the program saw the completion of five fish barrier removal projects and the opening of more than seven miles of fish habitat, as it is our commitment to enhance fish habitat."

Matthew Sterner from Washington State Department of Historic Preservation views the 80-foot prefabricated bridge after installation at Hunter Point Road. The site was part of the 2018 Fish Passage Enhancement program, which Thurston County Public Works won a National APWA award for in 2019.

For details on programs and projects managed by Thurston County Public Works, view the department's annual report online at

This is the 59th Annual Public Works Week. The celebration, recognizing the contributions of public works professionals, was developed by the American Public Works Association (APWA). The theme for the 2019 Public Works Week is It Starts Here, representing the many facets of modern civilization that grow out of the efforts put forth by the public works professionals across North America.

What starts here? Infrastructure starts with public works... Growth and innovation starts with public works... Mobility starts with public works... Security starts with public works... Healthy communities start with public works.

"We value our communities and the role public works professionals play in keeping them safe and functioning smoothly", reports the APWA. "Our objective is designed to increase public awareness of their contributions as well as to enlighten the public about the duties, practices, and goals of public works professionals."

About APWA
The American Public Works Association ( is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 30,000 members involved in the field of public works. APWA supports those who operate, improve and maintain public works and infrastructure through advocacy, education, and member engagement. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., has an office in Washington, DC, and 63 chapters in North America. 

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3