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City of Northville recognizes its unsung DPW difference-makers

 City of Northville recognizes its unsung DPW difference-makers

Pictured from left are John Lapenta, Logan Tallent, Joe Bledsoe, Austin Jones, Matt Ketvirtis, Zach Kennedy, Matt Wyman and Terry Ahola. Not pictured is Kirk Hunter.

The upcoming week of May 19-25 is designated as National Public Works Week by the American Public Works Association to recognize those who work for municipal public works across the country.

City Manager George Lahanas would like residents, visitors and businesses to take note of the work force that is largely behind the scenes but helps ensure the city has safe drinking water, clean streets, well-lit public areas and prompt disposal of trash and collection of recyclables, among other services.

“It’s a tough job. There are times when they are called in at 2 a.m. on a freezing winter morning to fix a water main break,” said Lahanas. “They do the heavy lifting for the city and are outdoors working throughout the year. They deserve to be recognized for their efforts and dedication.”

In Northville, the Department of Public Works is staffed by Director Mike Domine and eight full-time employees: Terry Ahola, Matt Wyman, John Lapenta, Kirk Hunter, Austin Jones, Joe Bledsoe, Logan Tallent, Zach Kennedy, plus Matt Ketvirtis, who is a seasonal employee.

Essential roles in everyday life

Event sponsor APWA notes: “The week-long observation also sheds light on the brave and essential role that the public works employees play in our lives. By definition, public works are the state-funded physical and social infrastructure of a country. From the sanitation of our roads to the dams and power grids, public works are an indispensable part of any developed society.”

DPW staff are well trained, experienced, and qualified in their field to take care of routine and complex tasks and emergencies involving city assets and infrastructure. Several are also cross-trained as firefighters, including Lapenta and Jones.

Responsibilities numerous

Among the work done by the DPW director and crew members:

  • Oversight of the supply, storage, and distribution of drinking water
  • Maintenance of the city’s water system, wastewater collection system, and storm water collection system
  • Oversight of streetlights, landscaping, sidewalks, parking structures, and parking lots
  • Preparations, set-up, logistics / traffic control, and clean-up of all civic events
  • Operation and maintenance of local cemeteries
  • Maintenance of City Hall and surrounding properties
  • Maintenance of city-owned properties
  • Tree planting, trimming, and maintenance of city-owned trees
  • Fall leaf collection on neighborhood streets
  • Management of solid waste collection services including trash, recycling, compost, and household hazardous waste
  • Maintenance of city-owned equipment
  • After-hours water main and water break emergencies
  • Snow and ice plowing and removal
  • Painting stripes on city parking lots, streets and cross walks; and
  • Proposals and management of the city’s capital improvements for streets, parking lots, sidewalks, water systems, sewer systems and the cemeteries

The next time you’re out and about in Northville and you see a DPW worker, take a moment to thank them for the work they do to keep Northville such a beautiful place to live, work and play.

Thank you to City of Northville Communications Director Liz Cezat for contributing this article to

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Ed Wright

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