City crews work 365 days a year


Last updated 4/30/2024 at 9:33am

Drive or walk around Sisters early any morning of the year — including holidays — and you just might see a safety-vested worker in a City truck making the rounds. They are doing seemingly quotidian tasks, and you may ask why they’re out on a Sunday or holiday.

Sisters Public Works Director Paul Bertagna, in typical fashion, downplays the work. It’s just routine in his world of streets, water, and sewers. He provided The Nugget a list of what’s checked every morning: four water wells, the reservoir, the wastewater treatment plant, three effluent irrigation sites (April – October), four sewer pump stations, four restrooms (winter), six restrooms in the summer, water lab tests, and wastewater lab tests.

Most citizens probably take for granted that things work.

“Trust me,” said Bill Kelly who serves on the Public Works Advisory Board. “When you turn on the faucet you expect the water to come out and when you flush you expect it to disappear. Folks are pretty insistent on that. And if it wasn’t working, the city would get an earful.”

“Utility locates come in almost every day so those have to get done, and the crew empties approximately 10 to 12 garbage cans every day (winter) and up to 20-plus during the summer months. These are just the things they do every morning before they start working on their scheduled work,” Bertagna said.

Utility locating is the process of using technology such as ground penetrating radar to create a map of all the cables, pipes, and other services under the surface of a site. A utility locator can chart where underground pipes and cables are so that these things can be avoided and planned around during your excavation.

The Nugget asked Bertagna how crews were assigned.

“We have a full-time person working weekends from April through October, which is when we have the bulk of the public events and our crews rotate on-call a week at a time for the rest of the year,” he replied.

Local resident Roberta Graves told The Nugget, “I stopped one Sunday morning walking my dog and asked a city worker what he was doing tinkering with a big green box. He explained so politely, and once I understood that he was checking a sewer pump station, I thought what it would be like if one failed. It’s quite gratifying to know these guys are taking care of us.”

City Manager Jordan Wheeler expressed a bit of pride and gratitude for the team’s work:

“Our Public Works crew are the unsung heroes for all the important work that keeps our city clean, livable, and running smoothly and efficiently. From plowing snow and fixing potholes to delivering clean water and treating wastewater, our staff are world class when it comes to providing these essential services, often at all times of day and night.”


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