Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Hearst Connecticut Media
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Public Works Supt. Scott Bartlett collects an award from the Board of Selectment at Wednesday's meeting. Fairfield,CT. 12/7/17

FAIRFIELD — The Board of Selectmen took time at its meeting Wednesday to recognize some town employees who recently were award recipients.

“Too often we take the excellent service we get here in Fairfield for granted,” First Selectman Mike Tetreau said.

The town received the 2017 Municipal Excellence Award from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, for the Public Works Department’s Zero Net Energy Facility project, overseen by Asst. Public Works Director Ed Boman.

“It’s really all part of sustainability,” Boman said, with 100 percent of the costs of the project at and around the wastewater treatment plant offset by savings, that will reduce greenhouse gases and pollutants. There are several parts to the project, including a $3.5 million grant for a dike to protect the area from flooding, five solar purchase agreements for town buildings on One Rod Highway, a fuel cell, a microgrid to provide power when the power grid is down, emergency management systems the town received a $3.5 million grant to protect the plant from flooding with a dike, and a combined heat and power generator.

“I will not be using any more power or natural gas for heating purposes for the (wastewater) facility for the next 20 years,” Boman said.

Tetreau said that will bring about $1 million in savings a year, a figure that he and Selectman Chris Tymniak drew gasps from the audience at the CCM meeting where the award was announced. “They couldn’t believe we were saving that much money,” Tetreau said.

“Fairfield is becoming the model for the rest of the state to follow,” Tymniak said. Kiley agreed. “It’s about sustainability, it’s about savings, it’s about safety,” Kiley said. “We are the leader in the state in these areas.”

The Public Works Department also received the 2017 Distinguished Service Award from Connecticut Association of Street and Highway Officials.

Public Works Director Joseph Michaelangelo said the association gives out three service awards — to a contractor, an engineering firm, and a municipality.

He said Supt. Scott Bartlett made a presentation to the group on the town’s pavement maintenance program, efforts on resiliency after Superstorm Sandy, and activities with the town’s beaches and marinas.

“What definitely sets us apart is our involvement in the community,” Michaelangelo said. “We get involved in the road races, the parade, the Pink Pledge. It’s not typical.”

“An award like this is a reflection of the entire department, from top to bottom,” Kiley said. “These are things that could be outside your scope, but you guys don’t have a scope. You do everything.”

Tetreau said for him, the iconic image of the DPW is the pink T-shirt picture, and the pink dump truck, during Breast Cancer Awareness month. “It’s a statement and a testament to how much your team goes above and beyond, and cares about what happens to the town. You bring it every day.”

The third, and final, award, went to Danielle Morrison, a chemist and lab manager at the Water Pollution Control Facility. She received the 2017 Water Environment Federation Laboratory Excellence Award from the New England Water Environment Association.

“We analyze our water streams, from influent to the affluent,” Morrison said, “approximately 9 million gallons a day of wastewater, and make sure it’s safe to discharge to Long Island Sound.

Morrison said she and another analyst who assists her, make suggestions on how to improve the plant process. “We communicate, collaborate, and put our minds together to see how we can make things work better,” she said.

Tetreau said most residents likely take the work of her team for granted. “You’re literally where the rubber meets the road,” Tetreau said. “Too often, when you’re in a town that runs as well as Fairfield, it’s easy to take things for granted.”