Less than one year after being hired, Mike Lewis, Ponoka’s director of operations and property services, has handed in his resignation.
Although he would only say the decision was for personal reasons, Lewis wanted to tell residents what his priorities were when he first took on the role. He was hired to take on two jobs after the town consolidated the property services and engineering development departments into one last year.
His first goal was to see sewage treatment sorted out.
“The number 1 priority right now is sewage treatment. I made a promise that we would never appear in front of Alberta Environment or Environment Canada ever again,” stated Lewis.
With increased treatment capacity at the lagoons he has noticed a great improvement in the treatment quality. Lewis has a second phase that he has shown for the 2014 budget to install pipes and valves, which will give the town more control over how the fluid in the lagoons flow. If next year’s project goes through then the only thing staff will have to do is monitor the conditions.
Another area of importance for Lewis was the condition of roads in Ponoka. He has received many complaints over the surface of the roads and has started a pavement management system. Pavement is costly so Lewis hired a company to test the ride quality index and the structural integrity index. “We scored very low on ride quality index.”
However the structural integrity of the roads is in much better shape than he expected, which he is grateful for as the road layers below the pavement are even more expensive than pavement.
He has put money into the 2013 budget to start road management in town. If followed, Lewis feels road crews will be able to monitor and manage the roads.
Keeping parks mowed was another area Lewis wanted to improve. He purchased a flail mower, which uses a farm-type tractor to push a mower that will span 20 feet when open. The other mowers the town uses are six feet wide and leave a wake of chopped grass “It should improve on the looks.”
The flail mower spins a drum and discharges the grass evenly. He believes this is more pleasing to look at and the machine is also safer for employees. They can park on the shoulder and lower the mower arm and cut the grass in a ditch without fear of tipping over.
“They’re much safer for some of our projects,” explained Lewis.
A major project Lewis wanted to undertake was to take his AutoCAD skills to update the town’s base maps. These maps show all of Ponoka’s underground services and he believes they have not been changed for five years. Updated maps would help when fixing a water main.
“Cause if I had ripped up the same block fixing holes in the same water main, five times now? Let’s cut to the chase and fix all of it,” Lewis gave as an example.
He also wishes he had the opportunity to update water and sewer bylaws. Lewis supplied the operations foreman his number and if he can offer advise then he will.