Good afternoon and thank you, it is an honor and privilege to serve as President of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of APWA.

When I took office this June, I thought we were finally returning to normal, or at least a new normal. After 15 months of COVID, offices were staffing back up, relaxing mask protocols, etc. Public Works was able to adapt and continue delivering services throughout the pandemic. We truly exemplify the 2021 theme of APWA is “Stronger Together”.

As the Delta variant rises, we look to continue our practices of masking, social distancing and sanitizing workspaces. I urge everyone that isn’t vaccinated to do so. The vaccine works in controlling the spread and lessening symptoms of those affected. Many have been vaccinated without adverse effects, given the numbers vaccinated. Please get vaccinated and get the boosters when advised and available. We can’t help our families if we are incapacitated, so for your family, your coworkers and your friends, please do the right thing.

Looking forward to the rest of 2021 and into 2022 I hope to expand and strengthen our chapter in three ways:

First, we will evaluate adding branches to the chapter. This would establish regions within the chapter, specifically the Baltimore Metro area and the DC Metro Area, to provide programming and educational opportunities at more central locations to our members. Several APWA Chapters in large geographic areas use a branch model including Florida, Texas and South Carolina. 

Our Chapter includes The District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It encompasses approximately 78,000 square miles, with approximately 17 million residents. Over the years, attempts have been made to attract members from DC and Maryland with moderate success, however, the Chapter remains very Virginia centric. Adding branches will allow more regional participation.
Currently, Ken Eyre and Jeff Wilkerson have been working to increase membership in Maryland, DC and West Virginia. Utilizing branches will allow for regional interaction and will bring more agencies into the fold to share their experiences and increase our collective body of knowledge.

Secondly, we will reassess our committee structure, identifying successful committees such as the Sustainability Committee. The Sustainability Committee has offered workshops and events, as well as publishing articles in the Chapter Works and the National APWA Reporter. I feel we can learn from the successful committees, revaluate other committees to see what is needed and reboot them or discontinue them if they are not providing a benefit.

If you are interested in getting more involved in APWA, serving on a Committee is a great place to start.

My third goal for this next year is to expand outreach to high school students. Many agencies have outreach programs for schools such as Touch a Truck, green reader programs and career days. I would like to have a concentrated effort to raise awareness of Public Works as a career option for High School students. Let’s face it, college and the military are not for everyone. Public Works has one of the most diverse offerings of career paths for young people that don’t require a degree. Careers include equipment operators, technicians, mechanics, landscapers, welders, account clerks, administrative assistants to name a few. We all have problems recruiting workers. We need to offer an option for young people and show them the benefits a career in public works can provide.

The opportunity to earn the respect of others; to build self-respect as a member of a team. Keeping our communities safe and creating healthy places for everybody, this is what we, as Public Works Professionals, do. We are Stronger Together. If you are a supervisor and have eager staff looking for a challenge, allow them, encourage them, to get involved in shaping the future of APWA, by serving on a committee. If you want to get involved but not sure where to start let me know. We will help find a spot that is right for you.

On behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter, thank you for your support. I hope to see everyone live at the 2022 PWX in Virginia Beach. I hope everyone has a great day and a better tomorrow! Be Safe!

Scott A. Smith, President
APWA Mid-Atlantic Chapter