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Summer interns advance Delta's public works schedule

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Photo by Annette Brand City engineer Ellen Michelsen (right) and student interns Kerry Ribbens (left) and Sierra Baldozier (center) look over a City of Delta map in preparation for the interns setting forth on their next public works assignment.

Quite a few Delta residents have stopped to chat with two young people in yellow safety vests this summer as the interns were busy examining streets, sidewalks, trash dumpsters, and checking out other public works areas in Delta.

Sierra Baldozier and Kerry Ribbens, 2016 graduates of Cedaredge High School, are serving summer public works internships, working in all areas related to Delta's public works. Both Kerry and Sierra plan careers in engineering.

They were hired by city engineer Ellen Michelson, who secured funding for their internships from American Public Works Association, Colorado Chapter, Western Slope Branch.

"They started the day after Memorial Day," Michelson said, "and are getting a lot of exposure to public works during their eight-week internships."

Kerry and Sierra surveyed city trash dumpsters, looking at condition of dumpsters, location, whether every household had a dumpster, and learned about waste management from Delta city staff.

They spent time working with staff in municipal light and power and became familiar with public works fleet facilities.

Kerry said, "We went to the wastewater treatment plant and watched the water being treated and the treated water being returned to the river. We visited Project 7 (which provides water to Delta residents) and saw the actual water treatment plant," he said.

Sierra added, "We have talked with a lot of people in different jobs, such as an asphalt plant, and toured their lab to see how asphalt is made."

They inventoried sidewalk conditions and documented dangerous conditions which could cause tripping or other problems.

The primary focus for the interns has been the city's roads and streets.

Sierra and Kerry examined and documented road cracks, rutting and graveling, settling, road shoulders, potholes and patching. They investigated drainage conditions, assessing how water flows off the road and into inlet structures. They identified where ditches were overgrown and breakdown in ditches.

"They found a lot of interesting things," Michelson said.

The interns will finish the road and street survey with attention to the road to Confluence Park and will inspect the ramps to the bypass and use traffic counters on the bypass to determine traffic volume and load.

As they wrap up their internships, Sierra and Kerry will survey the street signage around all the schools in Delta, updating signs to meet the standards of Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices from a survey completed by Colorado Department of Transportation for the city in 2014.

Michelson said, "The work Kerry and Sierra have done has been great for me. They have done a lot of work I just could not get to. As a result of their work, we will be able to get our pavement management program underway this year. The data Sierra and Kerry have collected will show us where to focus our efforts.

"The data will also be used when we build new roads to show us how to keep the roads newer longer with preventative maintenance," Michelson said.

Kerry noted, "There is too much to learn in just eight weeks, but this has definitely been a learning experience.

"People have stopped and talked with us, mentioning things they are interested in seeing done. Different people had different views, but everyone has been nice to us."

Sierra added, "This has taught us about how a city is run behind the scenes. It's been a really cool experience."

Kerry Ribbens will enter a program in which Colorado Mesa University partners with University of Colorado Boulder for its engineering students. Professors from CU Boulder come to CMU to teach engineering students for two years, after which the students transfer to CU Boulder to complete their four-year degree. Ribbens plans to major in civil engineering.

Baldozier will attend Regis University, entering a dual engineering program covering environmental engineering and science. After three years, she will concentrate on engineering for two years to earn her engineering degree.

Michelsen said the eight-week internship program has accomplished a lot for the city and the interns. She will be seeking funding to repeat the program next year.

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