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Making their Mark


A year ago, Breanne Martin simply wanted to get her foot in the door at the Prince William County Service Authority.

Halfway through her second stint at the Service Authority, the Osbourn Park High School graduate and James Madison University rising junior has done much more than that thanks to the utility's summer hire program. This year, Martin is one of 31 other summer hires, all of them performing a variety of important smaller tasks integral to the Service Authority's mission.

"Instead of letting a project or task sit on the back burner or incur overtime costs, the Service Authority is able to get smaller-scale projects completed through the summer hire program," said Human Resources Director Theresa O'Quinn. "There is also a benefit to having extra employees in the summer months and during the winter holiday season when many employees are away on vacation."

In June, Martin and Christopher Newport University student John Sims performed a series of flow tests on fire hydrants around Prince William County to help both the Service Authority and the Prince William County Fire and Rescue Department better gauge the available flow in those areas. As a result of these tests, the Service Authority will also be able to more accurately understand any potential risk to public health after the usage of a hydrant by the fire department.

Martin has also helped the GIS team with field checks, which are done to match what is out in the street with what is in the Service Authority database.

"After the completion of last summer's program, I knew there was so much more for me to learn," said Martin, who wants to pursue a career in environmental or civil engineering.

Other summer hires have also made a positive impact on the community. Bradley Snyder, William Dolinger, Ben Aguello and Joseph Precise in the Operations & Maintenance Division painted all the Service Authority-owned fire hydrants in the town of Occoquan in July. Since being hired in June, the four-man crew has painted dozens of hydrants across the County and performed necessary maintenance activities like washing company vehicles and cutting the grass around facilities.

"The summer hires made it possible to go above and beyond to provide this service to our customers and the town [of Occoquan]," said Collections & Distribution Department Manager Doug Shoop. "They did a great job and were very neat."

Part of the job has come quite naturally for Dolinger, a criminal justice major at Northern Virginia Community College. His father is a painter by trade and often takes the 20-year-old with him on professional assignments.

Because of the challenging and engaging environment at the Service Authority, many have returned for another summer – like Martin – or have recommended it to a relative or friend. Bradley, a future Virginia Tech student and Forest Park High School graduate, heard about the job through his brother Andrew, a former summer hire. Aguello's brother Marcelino was a summer hire in 2014 and recommended Ben join him this year.

"An important benefit of hiring a summer student is the vitality, energy and curiosity they bring," said O'Quinn. "Students are often excited to learn what we do, why we do it, and some have chosen to work in the utilities industry as a result of working for the Service Authority."