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2005 Media Releases

October 10, 2005
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831

Mayor Presents September Award Of Excellence

Mayor Coleen J. Seng today presented the Mayor’s Award of Excellence for September to David Bernt of the Public Works and Utilities Department. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City. The award was presented at the beginning of today’s City Council meeting.

Bernt was nominated in the categories of productivity and customer relations by City Traffic Engineer Randy Hoskins. Bernt has been employed with the Engineering Services Division since 1974 and has held the position of Senior Engineering Specialist since the year 2000.

About two years ago, Bernt was put in charge of upgrading and extending the existing traffic signal interconnection cable. The task was to replace the existing cables, which were slow and sometimes unreliable, with fiberoptic cable. Bernt took it upon himself to learn about all aspects of high-speed communication. This led him to recommend using wireless technology to interconnect signals using radios. With this approach, Engineering Services has been able to increase the distance covered for interconnection, without the higher costs of installing fiber.

Bernt saw opportunities beyond the interconnection of traffic signals. He partnered with other City and County departments to provide them with these communication tools:

  • High-speed communication has been provided to six downtown parking garages and lots.
  • Others now have access to the City Internet on City-owned lines including several Parks and Recreation facilities, Public Works maintenance shops, Fire and Rescue Station #1, the Lancaster County Youth Services Center and the City-County Health Department.
  • The UNL Police Department is now connected with the Lincoln Police Department.

Bernt worked with the Lincoln Electric System to identify cases where sharing fiber or installing new fiber would benefit all involved, allowing for installation costs to be shared. He also has worked with private firms to establish high-speed communication links for little or no cost to the City.

“Dave has been instrumental in piggybacking on contracts by other utilities, to extend lines at lower costs than could be done as a separate project,” wrote Hoskins. “By breaking the contracts into pieces that can be handled by more specialized contractors, Dave has been able to save the City considerable amounts of money.” Hoskins said on the recent Capitol Parkway signal project alone, Bernt’s efforts saved the City about $200,000.

“He takes pride in keeping himself abreast of the latest technology and then applying it to improve productivity,” Hoskins said. Bernt was instrumental in devising a system which gives engineering field inspectors wireless access to the City’s Internet services. This system allows the inspectors to update project logs, exchange e-mails and get additional information without having to drive back to the office. In the same way, traffic signals City-wide can be controlled from these locations, allowing for quicker and more accurate responses to traffic incidents and unusual situations.

The other categories in which employees can be nominated are loss prevention, safety and valor. All City employees are eligible for the Mayor’s Award of Excellence except for elected officials and some managers. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public. Nomination forms are available from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Personnel Department, which oversees the awards program.

All nominations are reviewed by the Mayor’s Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $100 U.S. savings bond, a day off with pay and a plaque. Monthly winners are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $500 U.S. savings bond, two days off with pay and a plaque.

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