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Rick Bush, Sturgis Public Works Director, is now a credentialed public works manager with the American Public Works Association.
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Rick Bush, Sturgis Public Works Director, is now a credentialed public works manager with the American Public Works Association.

Rick Bush earns advanced accreditation in public works field


F.Ganje - September 4, 2018

STURGIS, SD – A career highlight is how Rick Bush, Director of Public Works for the City of Sturgis describes what has been a two year journey to earn certification as a credentialed public works manager with the American Public Works Association (APWA).  Bush recently returned from the 2018 APWA Expo with a set of new initials after his name.

“It’s been a time intensive training over two years,” shares Bush.  “The end result is more tools and skill sets to move departments, organizations and projects forward – in all areas of the public works field.” 

Born and raised in Sturgis and now raising his own family in the community, Bush describes the process required to earn the credentialed PMW, a professional designation, much the same as those seen in other advanced professions.

“Beginning with applying to the program, it’s an extensive process,” says Bush. “Once accepted, a mentor guides you through creating a professional development plan, implementing and documenting that plan and completing post-secondary course work in the field of public works.

“Following my studies through Iowa State University,  I completed one, final project assignment that was reviewed and accepted by the APWA.”

As much pride as Bush has in continued professional development, it doesn’t begin to match how attuned he is to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the city’s daily infrastructure operations. He first joined the city as development director, working with capital improvements projects.  For the past decade, his role has been with public works where everything from digging ditches to  implementing new technologies to managing multi-million dollar projects is part of an average day.

“The relining of sewer mains project is a good example,” says Bush.  “Those were 70 year-old clay lines.  Today’s standard is poly pipe.  We relined them using new technology without having to dig up pipe.”

When people think of quality of life, it’s easy to overlook the essential services to the public that are encompassed in public works.  But it’s those very things that create, maintain and grow vibrant municipalities.

“We provide the essential services.  Public works is charged with maintaining and growing quality of life infrastructure and services to the community,” says Bush. He adds,  “It’s what our residents expect. We play a tremendous role.”

Bush points to the $4,300,000 downtown main street project, a new $4,600,000 public works campus and the beginnings of a new $16,247,000 wastewater treatment facility as examples of how integral the public works department is in the day-to-day life of people who live and work in the community.

“The downtown main street project is a career highlight for me,” he shares.  “It’s not very often community main streets get rebuilt so it was quite an opportunity.”  He adds, “The new public works campus with construction underway now will save the city a great deal of money through increased efficiencies by sharing resources, equipment and man-power.”

He continues,” The new waste water treatment facility that is in the beginning stages is the single, largest capital improvement project the City of Sturgis has ever done. The current wastewater facility is about 26 years old.  It was designed for 20.  In both areas of regulatory and technology, we cannot treat and dispose of water like we did 20 years ago.” 

Ever advancing technology, changing environmental regulations and interpreting tomorrow’s public work needs … today, are among the biggest challenges his department faces.

“We’re constantly thinking ahead.  It’s easy to do a project just for today.  But we want to build something that will far surpass a current need.  We know that when you build or plan with just today in mind, you’ll find yourself having to contend with the same issue - often times by the next year.”

There will always be a hole that needs dug, or a pothole repaired, and the snow plowed. The City of Sturgis Public Works Department does that…..and a whole lot more.

Bush reflects, “This is the one job and position that gives me the most satisfaction - in the city I call home.” 

Listen to the live interview ON DEMAND at KBHB Radio.



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