All works, some play

Local school children got a chance Thursday to check out the high-tech equipment that the city’s Public Works crews use to keep Glendale running smoothly.

Public Works employees showed off their work tools, including a powerful vacuum that sucks up trash from blocked sewers, to students from Holy Family, R.D. White and Balboa elementary schools during the department’s open house event in honor of National Public Works Week.

“It’s kind of cool,” 7-year-old Adelina Torosian said of the tools on display.

Adelina and her classmates from R.D. White took a guided tour of the city’s Municipal Services Building, which houses the Public Works Department.

“I liked the waterfall,” she said of the building’s water feature. “It has a lot of water, and it kind of looks like a pool.”

Students from first to third grades also played carnival games created by facility and mechanical maintenance workers. Employees used a toilet seat to simulate a hoop for a basketball game and spark plugs for a pinball-style game. This year’s event was hosted at City Hall instead of the department’s corporate yard, where it was in the past, so students could walk from school to the open house, he said.

The walk from school to City Hall took about 15 minutes for R.D. White Elementary School students, teacher Scarlet Vartanian said. The students enjoyed the walk and kept pointing out their relatives’ homes and places they visited.

The open house was part of the students’ social studies class, where they are learning about how the city gets its water and maintains its streets, she said.

“We are hoping that they learn about the importance of Public Works,” Vartanian said.

Wastewater Management Worker Alfonso Herrera operates a closed-circuit TV, which is attached to a robot that goes into sewers and looks for cracks on the tunnels or trash blockage.

“Sewers — a lot of people don’t know about them because they are underground,” he said.

In an effort to save money due to this year’s budget shortfall, Public Works tightened its pockets to pay for the event, said Shea Eccleston-Banwer, the department’s administrative analyst and event committee chairman.

The department spent less than $300 to put on the open house, which they have hosted since 1997.

Putting on an open house event gives students a chance to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes to maintain the city’s streets, buildings, lights and water systems, Eccleston-Banwer said.

“We are enthusiastic about the field of Public Works,” he said.

The department wanted to educate “young people about the important work we do,” Eccleston-Banwer said.

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