The High Desert Branch of the American Public Works Association (APWA), which represents jurisdictions located in Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Lancaster, Victorville, Hesperia, Barstow and Apple Valley, presented its annual project awards at its year end banquet on Dec. 7 at Sweetwater Bar and Grill in Agua Dulce.

The “Outstanding Public Works Employee of the Year” award went to the city of Palmdale’s Senior Engineering Technician Jason Finch. After a vacancy was created by the city’s departing senior civil engineer in November 2017, Finch stepped-up his responsibilities to ensure that the City would continue to operate without this key position until it can be filled.

“With the current high demand for engineers, especially those who specialize in traffic related matters, it has been a long process to find a qualified replacement,” said Chuck Heffernan, director of public works. “Since the needs of the City can’t be placed on hold and much of the duties of the employee need to be fulfilled in a timely manner, Jason stepped in to fill the void.”

Before taking on the additional tasks of the senior civil engineer, Finch was responsible for handling purchasing for the traffic engineering division, assisting traffic signal maintenance, performing traffic division related field work, reviewing signage and striping plans, preparing and reviewing traffic control plans, reviewing traffic studies, and responding to citizen traffic inquiries.  In addition to his duties, he currently participates in the city’s Development Advisory Board (DAB), the North Los Angeles County Transportation Coalition (NCTC) Joint Powers Authority (JPA), and the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) JPA. 

“The High Desert Branch’s recognition of Jason’s extra efforts are very satisfying and confirm how his peers at the city feel about him,” Heffernan said.

Palmdale’s council chamber audio/visual upgrade project was named “Best Use of Technology.” The Palmdale council chamber, built in the early 2000’s, has never had an  audio/visual system upgrade despite changing technology.  The project involved scoping, purchasing and installing state of the art audio and visual equipment, upgrading lighting, upgrading the audio/visual systems at ancillary offices and the neighboring Chimbole Cultural Center.  The project also provided each seat at the dais with improved functionality and connectivity for upgraded digital voting and agenda access.

“I’m extremely proud of our staff who has continued to serve as outstanding professional leaders of the High Desert Branch communities,” added Heffernan.

Other awards presented included: Outstanding Public Works Project of the Year – city of Santa Clarita as well as the Old Town Newhall parking structure; Innovative Design of the Year – city of Lancaster, Master Plan of Complete Streets; Best Improvement for Public Safety – city of Lancaster, Lancaster Auto Mall Pedestrian Safety Improvements; Best Environmental Project – city of Santa Clarita, Heritage Trail from Gateway Ranch to Wildwood Canyon.

For more information about the APWA High Desert Branch, visit