Public Works and Utilities Newsletter

Paving The Way For A Brighter Future By Educating, Engaging And Empowering Our Employees.

Utilities Keeping the Pace

Donna Garden, Assistant Director of Public Works and Utilities

A year has almost passed since I arrived at the City. It has been a steep learning curve. I have had the help and support of the most amazing group of people – people who give their all for our citizens and are proud of their work. Behind and below this growing city, our utilities operate smoothly and efficiently, day-in, day-out.

The landfill has completed Phase 12 construction – covering 10 acres, 150-feet deep – to safely dispose of Lincoln's waste. To preserve space, we have undertaken a renewed effort to divert materials from the landfill. Our Recycle Working Group is made up of commercial, industrial, housing and waste professionals.

Watershed Management has been instrumental in the excellent rating the City received, that improves our Community Rating Classification to a Class 5 city. Based on many of the projects and efforts by Watershed Management, this rating provides a 25-percent reduction on flood insurance for property owners in the floodplain.

The use of technology and automation has made it possible for our utilities to serve a city that has grown by nearly 100,000 people with nearly the same number of staff as 40 years ago. With this technology, we now have electronic maps with linked information regarding the infrastructure. Our Water and Wastewater systems can remotely respond to needs in "real time" at our treatment and pumping facilities. With maintenance management systems, we can manage work flow more effectively and evaluate the maintenance history of our assets.

We keep Nebraska's best tasting water accessible 24/7 from every tap; clean the wastewater to pristine quality before discharging it to the creeks; improve water quality and protect homes from flooding through our watershed management; and dispose of waste in the most environmentally safe way possible. We do it all with a level of service second to none, and we do it with pride. Although it's often unrecognized, we work each day to help make a difference for the people we serve.

Thanks to each of you and Happy Holidays!

Donna Garden Assistant Director of Public Works and Utilities

Christmas Tree Recycling Program

Christmas Tree Recycling Sites

The City began the tree recycling program in 1987 in an effort to keep large quantities of trees from going to the landfill. Lincoln's tree recycling program is the oldest of its kind in Nebraska. Over the last 27 years, the City has recycled nearly 218,000 trees.

The City will accept trees for recycling at seven sites through Sunday, January 11. Go to and click on the Christmas tree recycling program for the location nearest you.

Hoefling Enterprises has again donated grinding services at each of the collection sites. The tree mulch will be taken to its facility at 2200 South Folsom Court and distributed free to the public during normal business hours on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Monday, January 19.

For more information on recycling, call the Recycling Hotline at 402-441-8215 or visit

Strong Lincs

There Is No ‘Division’ Among Our Divisions.

- Miki Esposito

PWU Director Miki Esposito is pleased to announce the Strong Linc Award recipients for the workplace principle of bravery/courage. Please congratulate these Strong Lincs for their valued service.

Tan Pham (Technology)
With all the department changes made in the last few months, Tan has shown a willingness to push past historical problems and face issues head on.
Pat Schroeder, Kevin Stangl, Vince Morin, Mike Mandery, Ralph Pflasterer, Rich Munson, Mike Taylor, Mike Leedom, Brad Barber, Tim Gulbrandson, Jim Holz, Ron Swanson, Kevin Neth, Kevin Lutz, Brett Logue, Steve Schmalken, Doug Pfanstiel (Wastewater)
During the October 1 storm event, Wastewater employees dealt with flooding conditions at stormwater pumping stations, responded to basement backup calls, performed collection system integrity checks and monitored the operation of wastewater pumping stations. At the wastewater treatment facilities, emergency high-flow procedures were initiated and control measures were effective in the distribution and treatment of storm peak flows.
Joyce Evans (StarTran)
Joyce was willing to compete in a national bus competition even though the local competition was rained out. Her willingness to step forward and compete with only minimal practice is commendable and showed great courage.
Ellen Wright (Watershed Management)
When PWU Director Miki Esposito envisioned a Marketing Committee made up of staff volunteers, she asked Ellen Wright to chair it. Ellen very willingly took charge of the group, got them organized and proceeded to guide three very successful years of newsletter preparation, Water Fest and Public Works Day and a variety of related efforts. Although the concept was new, Ellen bravely jumped in with both feet and took on the task.

The next workplace principle will focus on loyalty. Nominations are due to Miki by Friday, January 23.

Knust Recognized for Work with Vocational Rehab

Glenn Knust, StarTran Maintenance Superintendent, has been recognized with a 2014 Excellence Award by the Nebraska Department of Education-Vocational Rehabilitation.

Glenn and his staff have been working with the organization for the past two years to provide employment training for people with disabilities. These young people between the ages 16 and 21 – who've never had a job before – get hands-on experience in the StarTran Maintenance Shop. They work a total of 90 hours over the summer as bus cleaners, which includes a host of other miscellaneous duties. "We are happy to help them out with this program," said Glenn Knust. "It helps us as well. It has been a rewarding partnership for all of us."

Congratulations, Glenn, and keep up the great work!

Glenn Knust, StarTran Maintenance Superintendent

PWU Recognized at NWEA and AWWA Conferences

Water and Wastewater employees were recognized for their great achievements at the Nebraska Water Environment Association (NWEA) and American Water Works Association (AWWA) conferences November 5 through 7 in Kearney.


Best Tasting Water in Nebraska
Water Industry Service Award (presented to AWWA members of the Nebraska Section who have served for a minimum of 20 years with the Water Works industry)
Eric Lee
2014 Top-Ops Competition
First Place – Jerry Obrist (retired)
Third Place – Steve Owen and Dave Beyersdorf
Best Tasting Water in Nebraska 2014


Scott Wilbur Awards (presented for outstanding operation and maintenance of a wastewater treatment facility)
Large Facility Award
Theresa Street Treatment Facility
Medium Facility Award
Northeast Treatment Facility

More Information...

Artistic Snow Plow Program

Eleven more City snow plows are sporting blades painted by local students in the third year of the Artistic Snow Plow project. This project is a collaboration of PWU and Lincoln Public Schools.

These functioning mobile art murals are assigned to the participating school's snow route, which gives the students an opportunity to see their plow performing winter maintenance activities. The program strengthens community relationships and communication about winter weather response efforts.

Thank you to everyone who participated and to Sherwin Williams for providing the paint.

Huntington ElementaryHuntington ElementaryKooser ElementaryKooser ElementaryLakeview ElementaryLakeview ElementaryNorwood Park ElementaryNorwood Park ElementaryPrescott ElementaryPrescott ElementaryRandolph ElementaryRandolph ElementarySchoo MiddleSchoo MiddleZeman ElementaryZeman ElementaryArts and HumanitiesArts and HumanitiesCuller MiddleCuller MiddlHill ElementaryHill Elementary

Upcoming Event

2015 Home and Garden Show
Lancaster Event Center

More PWU Events...

Thank You!

Public Works and Utilities wants to thank residents and visitors for their continued patience and support during the 2014 construction season. 2015 will be another active construction year. PWU reminds drivers to drive slowly and safely through construction zones.

StarTran Receives $2 Million Federal Grant

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has awarded a $2 million Ladders of Opportunity grant to StarTran. The funds will be used to buy three buses and two downtown trolleys that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) as well as a bus driving simulator.

"The Ladders of Opportunity initiative supports the modernization and expansion of bus service," said Mayor Beutler at a November 13 news conference. "The goal is to connect disadvantaged and low-income residents with the vital services they need to improve their lives – services like education, employment, job training and health care. The grant process was very competitive – only 24 transit systems in the U.S. were selected to share in the $100 million in grants."

The Mayor thanked Black Hills Energy for its cash match commitment of $28,000. Black Hills Energy also helped the City purchase its first five CNG buses earlier this year.

StarTran Transit Manager Michael Davis said CNG buses are less expensive to operate, better for the environment and safer. He said StarTran's fleet of CNG vehicles will grow to 29 over the next two years.

"A lot of effort by Barb Baier, Brian Praeuner, Scott Tharnish and Ryan Kacirek went into this application. With the competitive process, we feel very fortunate to be an award recipient of this FTA Ladders Grant – a credit to their success!" said Davis.

More Information...

Technology Bits and Bytes

With input from all division representatives, the PWU Policy Team recently adopted the first department-wide Desktop Computer Policy. The complete policy is available on the Public Works and Utilities IntraLinc site.

This policy outlines the acceptable use of computer equipment at PWU and standardizes all software used Department-wide on four major platforms. This makes it more efficient for Technology Services staff to work with one operating system and one consistent version of office software, and easier for users to stay proficient.

The policy includes the following:

  • All computers will run on the MS Windows 7 Operating System.
  • Word Perfect and Lotus software products will be phased out in favor of Microsoft Office 2013.
  • All computers will come with Adobe Reader. Adobe Pro will be an optional upgrade.
  • Symantec Anti-Virus will be installed on all computers.

Technology Services staff will meet with each division to create a transition plan similar to the recently completed Novell migration. The Windows 7 upgrade project is anticipated to be completed by March 2015.

All available issues

June/July 2013 PDF 

  • Respect And Civility At Work
  • City Resources
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Condolences to Jeff Grove's Friends and Family
  • Service Awards
  • Something For The Kids: Dig Into Reading
  • Stormwater Runoff
  • Mayor's Award of Excellence for April
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – City Council Approves Drought Rates
  • Water Conservation Poster Contest Winners
  • Flashing Yellow Arrows

April/May 2013 PDF 

  • Spring is Here!
  • Davis to Serve as StarTran Transit Manager
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Whisenhunt Presented Mayor's Award of Excellence for January
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Morris Receives March Award of Excellence
  • Employee Training and Recognition Event
  • Golden Shovel and Platinum Pen Awards
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Managing the Cost of Electrical Power
  • Summer Water Restrictions Again Possible

February/March 2013 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: Laying the Groundwork
  • Call Before You Dig
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Condolences to Warren Wondercheck's Friends and Family
  • 2013 Home & Garden Show
  • Welcome Frank Uhlarik!
  • StarTran Stuff the Bus
  • StarTran 31-Consecutive Day Bus Pass Has New Lower Price!
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Funding Utility Services
  • Lincoln's Biosolids Land Application Program: 20 Years Old and Going Strong
  • PWU Recognized at NWEA Conference

December 2012 / January 2013 PDF 

  • Lincoln Water System Utility Supervisors Vital to Asset Management
  • StarTran 2012 Big Red Express
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Brian Dittmann and Steve Titus are Retiring!
  • PWU Teams Up With Lincoln Public School Students
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Engineering Services
  • Municipal Services Center Continues Renovations
  • PWU Praised for Cooperative Efforts

October/November 2012 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: We Endure
  • City of Lincoln Wellness Program
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • September Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • The Drought of 2012
  • Prepping for Snow
  • Wellness Initiatives
  • StarTran Serves 2,000,000 Riders

August/September 2012 PDF 

  • Public Works and Utilities Runs Defense
  • VoIP
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Leadership Link Manager of the Year
  • July Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • Taylor Buss: Public Works and Utilities Ambassador
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Asset Management: A Commitment to a Sustainable Community
  • Wastewater FROGs
  • StarTran Receives Environmental Leadership Award

June/July 2012 PDF 

  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – "Color of Money"
  • Sidewalks: A Change in Responsibilities
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • John Ottoson is Retiring!
  • Kennedy Receives Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • Public Works Day Celebrated During Waterfest
  • 2011 Mayor's Award of Excellence Honorable Mention: Jose Regueira
  • June is National Safety Month
  • Safety is Director's Top Priority
  • Compost Program Nearing Anniversary
  • Water Conservation Poster Contest Winners

April/May 2012 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: Who We Are
  • E-mail "Alerts"
  • National Public Works Week
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Service Awards
  • February Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • PWU Active in Sustainability Events
  • Stuff the Bus
  • Double Roundabout Wins Prestigious ACEC Honor Award
  • 56th and Elkcrest Water Main Breaks
  • Clean Water Program
  • Golden Shovel Award

February/March 2012 PDF 

  • PWU Director Esposito Appoints Marketing Committee
  • Snow Removal Effort Receives Multiple Compliments
  • Employee Kudos!
  • Terry Ullsperger Receives Award From HBAL
  • 2012 Home & Garden Show
  • StarTran Sees 20 Percent Increase in Ridership Over Two Years
  • City Has Filled More Than 7,000 Potholes This Winter
  • We're Listening: Why does it take so long to clear my cul-de-sac?

Marketing Committee Members

*Newsletter Committee Member

Kitty Elliott
Clay Engelman
*Kris Humphrey
Lance Loschen
Kyle Williams
*Meagan Pratt
Michelle Zuhlke
Rock Krzycki
Gene Hanlon
*Michele Abendroth