by Dave Guerard, Assistant Director of Public Works
Twenty-five years ago, when I became a Hopewell Township Public Works team member, I never thought it would completely change my life and how I view myself. It did not take long for me to realize the importance and functions of the Department's work. I am a lifelong Township resident who knew they picked up our leaves, brush, and bulk waste. Periodically I would see a roadside mower go by, and, of course, I would see the snowplow go by and sadly think to myself, "Guess it's back to school tomorrow." I never perceived all the other duties that the Department of Public Works had behind the scenes, or even right in front of me, to keep the Township running.
With over 58 square miles and 144 miles of roadway to take care of, Hopewell Township is the largest in Mercer County. Before I worked here, it never occurred to me that this was the crew who worked tirelessly during storms to clear the roads to allow the Police vehicles through. They cut the trees out of the lane for Emergency vehicles to get by. I was surprised to learn that sometimes the work went on for days, without hesitation, and without a single thought of what they may have to deal with when they finally return home.
As I never appreciated, you may not realize just how vital Public Works is in keeping the Township running. From picking up leaves, brush, bulk waste, and Freon appliances to fixing potholes, cleaning the ditches, and storm drains, to mowing and replacing street signs, the responsibilities of the Public Works department are extensive. When a piece of equipment breaks down, a Police car gets a flat tire, or an ambulance needs maintenance, our Mechanics are there to make sure the equipment and vehicles are ready for service. When one of the Township-owned buildings has electrical, heating, plumbing, or security issues, our Buildings and Grounds team ensures everything is safe and operational. If there is a water main break in the middle of the night, the Public Works crew responds, along with the Township's Licensed Operator, to get the repairs done as quickly as possible.
One of the most significant responsibilities that Public Works is tasked with is regulatory compliance. There are many professionals on our team. The Buildings and Grounds crew makes sure our buildings’ indoor air and water quality meet code. Our Water Operator is responsible for maintaining water quality and distribution standards in the part of the Township where we own the water system. Public Works is responsible for maintaining compliance with NJ Stormwater Management standards and keeping up-to-date with new regulations as they are ordered.
Over the years, I have developed relationships with and insight into the other Township departments' work, and I have learned that one cannot function properly without the other. Your Public Works team has endless dedication and takes great pride in their work. Many say their work never ends, but that statement could not be more accurate here in Public Works. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, when needed, we will be there until the job is done. I consider it a great honor to be one of these dedicated employees and part of this great organization