History

The Missouri Chapter’s membership comes from the geographic area of the state of Missouri excluding the Kansas City Metropolitan area. The chapter as a whole meets twice a year in various locations across the state. There is one branch - St. Louis. The St. Louis Metro Branch meets once a month in St. Louis.  

The Missouri Chapter is an association of professional engineers, technicians, operations staff, public works directors, business people, contractors, consultants and many others who join together to exchange ideas and information, promote education and training, and work as a team to meet professional and community needs. Nationally, APWA represents more than 26,000 public works professionals and offers excellent professional development programs and member services. We are proud of our association, and we invite you to join us in connecting people, resources and services to improve our communities through public works activities.

The chapter takes part in many activities such as: Educational Seminars: Spring and Fall Conferences, Technical Education Programs, National Public Works Week, Newsletters, Community Outreach, Chapter Awards Program. A member may become involved in any of the very active chapter committees. A few of the committees are: Scholarship Review, Chapter Award Review, Activities, Community Outreach, Young Professionals, Administrative Management.

 The Missouri Chapter of the American Public Works Association and the St. Louis Branch invite you to learn more about APWA and the many benefits we offer.

A Brief History by Vijay K. Bhasin, P.E.

One purpose of the history of this chapter is to illustrate the remarkable impact that public works has on all of our lives. The construction and maintenance of a public works system reflects both historical achievements and present-day challenges. In St. Louis, on a single day, over 300,000 cars pass through the intersection of I-70 and I-270.  To maintain streets, city crews repair more than 200 potholes during the peak summer days.  In supplying water, the Missouri American Water Company must be mindful that approximately 5 million toilet flushes occur each day, each flush requiring about 5 gallons of water.  It is clear that the task of providing public works is a dynamic and demanding responsibility.

On January 28, 1931, the National Secretary of the American Society of Municipal Engineers mailed a circula letter to prospective members in the St. Louis metropolitan area in which he stated, "under  recent amendment to the Constitution, local sections are authorized and we would like for St. Louis to have the honor of having formed the first local section of the society" by reason of the fact that a native St. Louisan, Mr. M.F. Murphy, was the founder and first president of the National Society.

Upon receiving a number of applications for membership in response to this letter, there was appointed a temporary set of officers who constitute a Board of Directors and who actedunder a set of by-laws prepared for the local section.  These officers were as follows:  Mr. Hymen Shifrin (1892-1955), President; Dr. Wesley Winans Horner (1883-1958) and Mr. Thomas J. Skiner, Vice Presidents; and Mr. J.L. Carlisle, Secretary-Treasurer.

In response to a communication of Mr. Shifrin, Acting President, dated of February 6, 1931, a meeting was called on February 11, 1931, at the Engineer's Club for the purpose of organizing a local section.  At this meeting was presented a list of forty-six names, more than sufficient the number required by the National Constitution and by-laws.  Mr. Shifrin explained the general purposes and reasons for organizaing a local section and answered questions propounded by several of those who had not yet signed an application blank.

As the local treasury was not yet established and had no funds with which to finance its activities, through the generosity and goodwill of the National Secretary, Mr. C.W.S. Sammelman, the necessary promotional expenses were provided for through his personal contribution.

In accordance with the provisions of the local by-laws, the election of a Board of Directors was held on May 18, 1931, to serve for the term ending July 1, 1932. These were as follows: Mr. Fred Wolffe (Assistant City Engineer, University City), President; Mr. Edwin E. Blass (Assitant City Engineer in Sewer Design Section, St. Louis), First Vice-President; Mr. Hymen Shifrin (Assistant to Chief, Division of Sewers and Paving, St. Louis), Director; and Mr. George Grimm, Jr. (Assistant to Chief Engineer, Department of Streets and Sewers, St. Louis), Secretary-Treasurer.

The Section became a member of the Joint Council, Associated Engineering Societies of St. Louis and had appointed the necessary delegates.  This enabled them to meet at the Engineer's Club without a rental charge.  By arrangement made with the National Society, the Section was financed through a refund of one-third of the annual national dues and no local dues were paid by members.

For promotional purposes and to assist the Membership Committee, a pamphlet was prepared and printed entitled "Why I Should Join" which justified its circulation and applications were received to pay its cost of publication. 

During the months of February, March, April and May, 1931, the Sectin held meetings open to the public on subjects of municipal significance with speakers familiar with subject as follows:

a) Mr. E.R.Kinsey, President, Board of Public Service, presented the subject, Ultimate Developments of the Municipal Plaza and its Effect on St. Louis.

b) Trends of Water Works Design was offered by Mr. John C. Pritchard, Director of Public Utilities

c) The Organization of the Division of Sewers and Paving, Department of the President, City of St. Louis was presented by Mr. Hymen Shifrin, Assistant Chief Engineer, Division of Streets and Paving.

d) Elimination of Railroad Grade Crossings, Mr. L.R. Bowen, Chief Engineer, Division of Bridges and Building.

e) Business meeting and election of officers in May, 1931.

The meeting at which the public had been invited was resumed in September, 1931, and with Dr. W.W. Horner, Chairman of the Program Committee, interesting topics were being arranged to encourage large attendance of members and tax payers.  A mailing list of 1,000 was maitained for these meetings at an estimated cost of $16.00 per meeting, or a total of $160.00 for the meetings proposed.  The available income from the present membership was sufficient revenue to finance these meetings.

Year             President
1931             Mr.Hymen Shifrin
1931-32        Mr. Fred Wolffe
1932-33        Mr. John C. Pritchard
1933-34        Mr. Walter Heimbuecher
1935-36        Mr. Erwin E. Blass
1936-37        Mr. Erwin E. Blass
1937-38        Mr. John B. Clayton, Jr.

On April 2, 1937, the St. Louis Chapter of ASME (American Society of Municipal Engineers) requested to join APWA.  On May 13, 1937, the By-laws of the Chapter of APWA were approved.

Due to low attendance of members and their lack of interest, the Nomintating Committee had a hard time finding willing people to serve as President of this organization.  The Chapter was unfortunate enough to have its funds in a bank, which did not open after the Moratorium.  About $72.00 of its funds were tied up.  On January 1, 1947, the St. Louis Chapter's Charter was revoked by APWA due to the Chapter begin inactive.

Sufficient petitions were received by the APWA Board of Directors. This Board authorized the formation of a Missouri Chapter at the Annual Convention of the National Organization on September 27, 1958, at the Muehlebach Hotel, Kansas City, Missouri.  An Innaugural Meeting of the Missouri Chapter took place on Tuesday evening, September 30, at 6:00 p.m. in the "Tea Room" of the same hotel.

The Nominating Committee presented the following nominations:

President                                Mr. W.E. Hedges, Director of Public Works, City Engineer of Springfield, Missouri

Vice President                        Mr. Clarendon Rea, Commissioner , Refuse Collection Division of Columbia, 
                                               Missouri

Secretary-Treasurer               Mr. W. Raymert Miller, Director of Public Works, Columbia, Missouri

Executive Committee - 2 year term
                                                Mr. Earl W. Deering, Comm.
                                                Div. of Refuse Collection & Disposal, St. Louis, Missouri
                                                Mr. James R. Huff, City Engineer, Mexico, Missouri

Executive Committee - 1 year term
                                                Mr. Victor, N. Napolilli, Asst. Director of Public Works, 
                                                University City, Missouri
                                                Mr. R. E. Crews, Director of Public Works, Joplin, MO

Within the next two years, the membership of the Missouri Chapter grew to about ninety  (90) people.

In 1963, a group of Public Works officials, including a number of City Engineers, formed the area Public Works Association to discuss problems with various codes in the Kansas City Metropolitan area.  A membership of approximately 100 to 150 persons met on a monthly basis in various cities throughout the metropolitan area.  In 1965, this group became the Kansas City Metropolitan Chapter of APWA encompassing six counties in Kansas and Missouri.  The K.C. Metro Chapter of APWA maintains monthly meetings at various locations throught the City.  This is a very active Chapter with a few hundred members.

During the Fall meeting of the Missouri Chapter, on October 24, 1969, By-laws were amended as follows:  These By-laws provide for the immediate past president of the Cahtper to be a member of the Executive Committee, require the Executive Committee to designate a representative to the House of Delegates prior to December 1 of the preceding year, require that five members of the Executive Committee shall constitute a quorm, provide for the officers to assume office on January 1 following the election, and for the Secretary-Treasurer to submit the slate of officers to the National Headquarters prior to December 31.

Each chapter designates an official representative to serve in the APWA House of Delegates.  In Missouri, it has been the practice of the Chapter Presidents to re-appoint the delegates to serve a number of years.  Accordingly Messer, Dave Snider, Ron Hill and Dennis Pendergrass served as delegates over the past decade.  The House of Delegates provides a direct link between APWA Board of Directors and the Chapters.

The APWA has divided North America into nine regions to promote better chapter administration.  Missouri falls within Region Six which includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Manitoba and Minnesota.  Regional Directors represent their groups of chapters on a national APWA governing board. 

Around 1980, Mr. Jack Kretzer, Director of Public Works for the City of Florrisant, was instrumental in bringing about the desire and purpose of creating the St. Louis Metro Branchof the Missouri Chapter.  The By-laws, other technical and necessary details were worked out at the State and National level in establishing the St. Louis Metro Branch.  The initial officers were Mr. Jack Kretzer, Chairman, Mr. Bryan Pearl, Chairman-Elect; and Mr. Vijay K. Bhasin, Secretary-Treasurer.  The membership grew and is now around 200 for the Branch and five hundred for the State Chapter.

The American Public Works Association, a professional organization of over 26,000 individuals, firms, and public agencies.  Its main office has moved from Chicago to Kansas City, staffed by 45 workers, and oversees an organization of 65 chapters and 7 institutes. This relocation of the main office to Kansas City took place in the spring of 1993.  Another APWA office is in Washington, D.C. and lobbies for supportive federal public works legislation.

National headquarters had requested that Missouri host the 1990 Congress and national annual meeting and the location preparation for this event was launched under the General Chairmanship of Mr. Tom Heugele, Street Commissioner for the City of St. Louis.  Mr. Vincent Tallo, the Construction Expeditor from Laclede Gas Company was a key person in acquiring complimentary items from the business community. An important first step was taken when Missourians attended the 1989 APWA Congress in Orlando, Florida and actively began promoting the upcoming St. Louis meeting. A large shipment of boxes carrying complimentary advertisement papers was sent by UPS. Mr. Tallo wore numerous hats during the 1990 Public Works Week of activities and other rallies to extend the word of the Association. The Missouri delegation "became quite involved" with lots of enthusiasm, but the efforts paid off. As a result, "everybody knew where the 1990 Congress was held", and plenty of people attended and enjoyed the program and activities.

The Congress of 1990 was promoted as a family vacation opportunity. It was necessary to provide special entertainment for spouses, such as a fashion show and tourist excursions. Everyone coped with last minute emergencies that required instant decisions. Managing a truly major project required the tight financial controls of Mr. Roger Shields of Sunset Hills.  The 1990 Congress proved to be an outstanding success under the presidency of Mr. Mark Thornsberry of Cole County.

During the Public Works Week of 1990, the City of St. Louis and other local municipalities
participated in a rally at Kiener Plaza. The different jurisdictions brought construction and maintenance equipment for the awareness of the public and people were encouraged to stop by and have a hot dog and soda. The APWA Headquarters helped by publishing a photograph in the APWA Reporter of the following month and devoted large coverage to the City of St. Louis and related affairs.

Why is the Missouri Chapter or the St. Louis Metro Branch of APWA so important to public works in Missouri? One recurring response from members stresses the benefits of related professional contact and communication. Mr. Jim Merkle of Ellisville thinks that the "peer group interaction" of conversation during lunch can bring up good ideas. Mr. Harold Bade appreciates the relationships between members which results in the exchange of ideas as well as technical information. For Mr. Dick Houchin, the Branch and Chapter enables him to cope with problems by sharing them with his peers. Mr. Ken Rohan of the City of Olivette perhaps best describes the Branch's appeal: "Aside from the valuable information, I have also made a lot of good friends."

Another role that the organization must fulfill is that of a formalized education network.
Mr. Vijay Bhasin believes that a public works official faces more than the responsibility of
solving a problem. If he has originated a new idea, he should take the time to write an
article on it so someone else does not have to reinvent the wheel but gain the benefit from
peers. Mr. Allan Dieckgraefe also stresses the value of the APWA's educational programs.
A public works official must constantly upgrade his or her skills, besides keeping up with
changing trends.

With environmental concerns. another important issue in public works is the quality of the
infrastructure - the network of roads, bridges and other public works.

The Branch holds the "Bade-Shields" Golf Tournament in the St. Louis area and members
believe that the golf course serves as a good setting for conversations about public works.
Perhaps one of the finest accomplishments of the St. Louis Metro Branch is the Educational
Scholarship offered, whereby a technician, foreman or other person in the public works
field can attend the spring and/or fall meeting of the Missouri Chapter. This scholarship
covers the cost of the Iwo-day program. In 1980, the Branch had barely began existence
when Mr. Vincent Tallo had brought this to the forefront of the organization.

Perhaps the highest accolade for an APWA member is to be named to the "TopTen Public
Works Leaders of the Year." The work of these officials "reflects the highest standard of
professional conduct combined with excellence in achievement in relationships to the
manpower and financial resources available in each nominee's jurisdiction". Missouri
Chapter members who have won this award are listed below:

Top Ten Award Winners Year

Mr. Rex Whitton 1960
Mr. William Hedges 1962
Mr. Peter F.Mattei 1972
Mr. C. Larry Unland 1975
Mr. Raymond A. Beck 1977
Mr. David G. Snider 1982
Mr. Allan B. Dieckgraefe 1983
Mr. Vijay K. Bhasin 1989
Mr. Dale Houdeshell 1996

The writer undertook the task of collecting the appropriate facts to create the historical
data of the Missouri Chapter of APWA. There have been numerous people who served
the profession but due to lack of proper records and resources, it has been hard to
provide the necessary credits to all those persons who must have been very proud of their
accomplishments and contributions.

Since public works achievements have occurred with little fanfare, they are generally
taken for granted. The roads without pot holes, removal of snow and ice at night in order
to provide safe highways and roads to vehicular traffic, clear and clean water at the turn
of a tap, these and many other public works services are accepted as customary in our
daily lives. Yet, when they fail to properly function, citizens disapproval is nearly unanimous.
We, the public works officials, profit from the experiences of forefathers, as we
strive to develop and manage both present and future public works systems. I hope this
information has provided some historical records about out Missouri Chapter of APWA.

Another role that the organization must fulfill is that of a formalized education network.
Mr. Vijay Bhasin believes that a public works official faces more than the responsibility of
solving a problem. If he has originated a new idea, he should take the time to write an
article on it so someone else does not have to reinvent the wheel but gain the benefit from
peers. Mr. Allan Dieckgraefe also stresses the value of the APWA's educational programs.
A public works official must constantly upgrade his or her skills, besides keeping up with
changing trends.
With environmental concerns. another important issue in public works is the quality of the
infrastructure - the network of roads, bridges and other public works.
The Branch holds the "Bade-Shields" Golf Tournament in the St. Louis area and members
believe that the golf course serves as a good setting for conversations about public works.
Perhaps one of the finest accomplishments of the St. Louis Metro Branch is the Educational
Scholarship offered, whereby a technician, foreman or other person in the public works
field can attend the spring and/or fall meeting of the Missouri Chapter. This scholarship
Why is the Missouri Chapter or the St. Louis Metro Branch of APWA so important to public wors in Missouri?  One recurring response from members stresses the benefits of related professional contact and communication.  Relationships develop between members which result in the exchange of ideas as well as technical information.  Aside from the valuable information obtained from these organizations, you will also make a lot of good friends.

 

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