So far, the year 2020 has brought surprise after (frequently unwelcome) surprise. One thing that hasn’t been surprising is the dedication of many essential service workers. Beyond healthcare and emergency workers, municipal and utility workers all over the nation also showed their dedication by keeping the lights on, the water running, the garbage picked up, and providing all the other services that make our communities work.
We are fortunate to have these prepared and knowledgeable workers in our communities, and we are thankful to have the opportunity to work with them to serve families and businesses.
Over the past 60 years – since Ayres was founded in April 1959 – we have been privileged to develop long-term relationships with a number of communities. These relationships help our engineers to understand the inner workings of the community, know what’s needed to keep it healthy, and anticipate problems before they become emergencies.
Thriving communities are committed to taking care of their infrastructure, and thereby their residents. Projects run the gamut from street and utility reconstruction to building code reviews to stormwater management. Their municipal engineer can help with them all.
What Do Engineers Do for Communities?
Municipal engineers keep communities apprised of possible code changes or opportunities for grant funding. They have experience built through many projects to help complete forms for outside agencies quickly and correctly. They attend regular Village Board and City Council meetings to answer questions as well as to gain a better understanding of the community as a whole. This is how engineers maintain a presence in a community, keep abreast of issues that might require engineering services, and provide the community with sound engineering recommendations.
That’s the sort of relationship we have with the community of Strum, Wisconsin. This small Trempealeau County community has been working with Ayres since the company’s founding in 1959.
The Village’s total area of 1.28 square miles holds a little over 1,000 residents who are fervent fans of their Eleva-Strum Cardinals, support the local volunteer fire department, and enjoy a round or two at the Viking Golf Course. It adjoins Strum Lake (also known as Crystal Lake) and is surrounded by farmland.
Regular Infrastructure Improvements Serve Village Residents
To serve its residents, the Village contracts with Ayres for regular street improvement projects. For example, the Village’s 2019 street project involved design and reconstruction of approximately 700 feet of 2nd Avenue, 700 feet of 3rd Avenue, 450 feet of 4th Avenue, and 750 feet of Cedar Street. The design called for 36-foot-wide streets with curb and gutter, water main and sanitary sewer replacement, and some storm sewer improvements and extensions. As the Village’s design engineer for this project, Ayres performed a topographical survey, provided recommendations for options to address Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) stormwater requirements, and provided preliminary and final designs, bidding services, and construction phase services.
That’s a basic but important project. By staying on top of street and utility needs, the Village avoids costly emergency repairs and aggravating service interruptions. And by working regularly with the Village over so many years, Ayres has insights into potential problem spots, historical knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, and an appreciation of the Village’s unique features.
Spillway Project Protects Village from Flooding
One of Strum’s unique features is Crystal Lake. This 55-acre lake formed by a dam on the Buffalo River brings campers to the Crystal Lake Campground and attracts anglers in search of panfish, largemouth bass, and trout. County Highway D runs over the dam.
A few years ago the Village hired Ayres to evaluate the spillway capacity of Crystal Lake Dam. The dam was fitted with an outdated flashboard system that was not functioning as designed. Ayres successfully worked with the WDNR to develop a hybrid flashboard system that functions more like a trip gate. The system has engineered vertical supports designed to break away at a certain water level. Ayres also helped the Village with a successful application for a WDNR Municipal Dam Grant, which funded 50% of the project.
When the water in Crystal Lake reached flood stage in 2015, those flashboards successfully operated, letting water through the dam and keeping traffic moving safely and smoothly on Highway D.
Looking out for the client – even looking for ways to help pay for necessary projects – is just par for the (Viking Golf) course when you’ve worked together as long as Strum and Ayres have. Over the past 60 years, our engineers have become part of Strum’s project team, working with City staff and elected officials to make creative, fiscally sound decisions to benefit the residents of Strum.
Our diamond anniversary year has concluded, but we’ll continue to celebrate business relationships built through trust, communication, and looking out for each other. That’s what engineers do.
Three current members of Ayres’ Wisconsin engineering services division have served as the Village of Strum’s engineer – Angi Goodwin, Disa Wahlstrand, and now Gareth Shambeau. Experts from our water resources group also worked on the Crystal Lake project. Together, Ayres’ staff keeps a close eye on Strum and its infrastructure needs. The Village has always had a partner at Ayres throughout the last 60 years.