College Photographer. Knox Alum. Young Photojournalist.

Learning About an Under-Noticed Area of Government

Over the past few weeks I have been interviewing members of the Public Works Department as well as Roger Sensabaugh, Recreation Superintendent in Galesburg.

Originally I wanted to do a story on what the departments do to get ready for the spring. This has been reworked to its current state due to some changing information. The realization that the departments don’t have a distinct switch over, its more of a rolling timeline of changing, caused the greatest issue. Another was the importance all of my interviewers noted on the budget crunch on their departments and the effect it had. This is why my project sits as a combo of these two topics.

These interviews have provided a few realizations that I did not know before starting this project.

The first major thing I noticed was the amount of work the Parks Department does during the winter months. One would think the department closes down for the most part during the winter months, but they keep themselves busy doing many different jobs. The job that surprised me most was the fact that they shovel a large percentage of the streets in Galesburg.

The next interesting thing I learned was the importance some of the employees at the Parks Department have in keeping the city clean. Jason Asbury and Brad Theobald, both natives of Galesburg, surprised me with the work ethic they had. One might think that a somewhat menial job would prevent someone from having the sense of responsibility that these two workers stated in their interviews.

The time I spent with these two individuals (less than 2 hours) was a great experience to see what the Parks Department does first hand. Most of my time spent with them they were just cleaning inlets (gutter drainage grates), but I still got a sense of duty they have to the community. Despite Asbury telling me a fake name to begin with (later corrected by his boss via e-mail) he was never disrespectful and was eager to show me one of the utility sheds where another employee, Joe Asbury, was working on making a new sign for the Water Department.

Just to clarify Joe and Jason are related, but distant relatives and not a father son combo like I originally thought when I figured out Jason’s real name.

Another interesting thing I figured out during my interviews, that was so interesting I wrote a whole story on it, was the strange separation between the Parks Department and the Recreation Department. This blurry and jagged line between them can easily confuse anyone and had me confused through a few of my interviews, if I let you listen to the questions I asked in the videos.

Overall I have learned a great deal about this under-noticed area of government and I hope you read the three stories and view the images, videos and other pieces accompanying it and grow a the same knowledge and appreciation that I have gained in the past few weeks.


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