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Residents can learn about public works on ‘ride-alongs’ with Ballwin personnel

Equipped with a highly visible departmental T-shirt, Ballwin resident Christine Steik prepares to “ride-along” with Ballwin Public Works Director Jim Link.

Ballwin resident Christine Steik has learned there’s nothing better than a first-person experience to learn the ins and outs of city government operations.

Steik recently rode along with Jim Link, director of the Ballwin Public Works Department, and learned some things she hadn’t earlier realized or fully appreciated.

“As an interested citizen, I found the experience to be very impressive and eye-opening,” she said.

Police Chief Kevin Scott’s successful invitation to Ballwin residents last year to ride along with his department’s personnel and citizen feedback from the current comprehensive planning process were all the encouragement Link needed to launch a similar program in public works.

Kirsten Hochstetler, the city’s marketing and communications director, said residents who had provided input for the comprehensive plan, now being prepared, had good things to say about the public works department. However, they also wanted to know more about what goes on behind the scenes in the many activities for which the department is responsible.

Based on her ride-along, Steik provided several cases in point.

“I didn’t know the city made its own brine solution to put on streets during bad winter weather,” she noted. “There’s a great cost savings involved and using the brine cuts down on salt’s impact on the environment.

“And I didn’t realize that the department’s 30 or so people are responsible for all the things they actually do.”

Steik had kind words for Link, whom she described as “very knowledgeable and dedicated to his job” and a person “always looking for cost savings for the city.”

The city’s purchase of trucks that, with minimal adjustments, can be used for different tasks also impressed Steik.

As a former participant in the Ballwin Police Citizens Academy, Steik has been on ride-alongs both with a police officer and with Scott.

“I just really appreciate the openness of people who work in the various city departments and I think everyone benefits from it,” she said.

Residents interested in participating in the Ride-Along program must fill out an application form [found here] and email it to Link at jlink@ballwin.mo.us.

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