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Silver Shovel award is golden moment at Ballwin Board meeting

The anticipated major story from the Sept. 14 Ballwin Board of Aldermen meeting was put on the back burner. Right off the bat, Mayor Tim Pogue announced that the petitioner of the proposed AT&T cell tower on the north side of Claymont Plaza had requested a continuance until the Sept. 28 meeting. That immediately set the scene for what turned out to the evening’s highlight event. 

Jim Link
Jim Link (center) with the Spire Silver Shovel Award.

Ballwin Public Works Director Jim Link was presented with Spire’s Silver Shovel award in recognition of the city’s continued commitment to digging practices.

Link, Pogue and former city administrator Bob Kuntz had learned of the achievement in a letter sent to Ballwin more than a month ago. The letter noted that “safety is one of Spire’s core values” and explained that the Silver Shovel award is meant to recognize public works departments that “safely excavate and work carefully around our gas facilities.”    

“I was proud that the guys in (public works) achieved this award,” Link told West Newsmagazine by email. “This is a team effort from all public works employees. We double-check ourselves and each other, and when one person sees something, they speak up. Safety has no rank.” 

Link also mentioned that he was humbled by the congratulations his department received from Pogue, Kuntz and others. He said it’s always great to feel appreciated by his peers when what they do makes a difference.  

Municipality requirements for the award are to be located within Spire’s service territory, utilize the Missouri One Call System with adherence to its statutes and have no at-fault damages on any gas facility for the entire calendar year of 2019.

Tod Fagan, manager of Spire’s Right of Way Department, explained, “In our safety program, we’re looking to recognize … the excavators who work safely around our lines … This is what led us to the Silver Shovel award.

“While that (final requirement) may not seem to be a big deal, in 2019, we had 1,780 dig-ins causing damage to our lines in Missouri. So, having the city of Ballwin, who had 227 requests, have no damages is a great thing. We want to recognize them and hope other municipalities follow their lead in the quest for safety.”

Fagan said Spire has some 150 municipalities in the eastern side of the state, but Ballwin is one of just five that earned this award.

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