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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Big trucks

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  • Linn Lalouette was able to tell amazing stories — and test third grade math skills — Wednesday at Slate Creek and Northridge Elementary schools. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, Lalouette or students participating in "Big Truck Day."
    Lalouette operates a high loader for the city of Newton, a member of the Public Works Department which is observing the American Public Works Association's National Public Works Week this week.
    When a group of students came to see the loader, Lalouette started the story.
    "I've helped rescue people from their homes and helped put out fires," Lalouette said. "I have even rescued a police dog."
    The dog was trapped in a car, which was in water. Lalouette put a police officer in the scoop of the loader, and the officer grabbed the dog. Lalouette was quick to point out to students what they did wasn't all that safe, and not done often.
    Lalouette told students each tire of the loader weighed about 700 pounds, and then asked how much four would weigh — setting a multiplication problem for the group.
    Public Works workers brought several pieces of equipment out to the schools Wednesday. In addition to the high loader, students were able to check out a back hoe, recycling truck, street sweeper, a truck used to clear water lines, a truck equipped with a camera to see the inside of water lines, message signs, a cherry picker truck and others.
    "This is an important day for us," said Suzanne Loomis, director of public works for Newton. "We want to spread the word to kids and have them excited about what we do. Some of them may become our future employees."
    It's a day for the children, but it is also a day for city employees.
    "This is good for staff. They get to feel like a hero. How great is it to have a kid tell you you are cool," Loomis said. "We get to share our story, and it is often an unsung story."
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