Monday, May 10, 2010


Physics teacher Carl Mehrbach writes: During the week of March Intensive courses this group of students learned about the geographic, ecological and environmental complexity of their town of Hanover.

On Day One members of the Planning and Zoning offices walked us through the reasons all buildings in Hanover must be planned carefully, from pre-construction through finish. One continuous problem struck the students: Hanover’s land is amazing in its variety. We discovered how complex it is to run a town which covers 50 square miles with 200 miles of roads. Controlling water and sewage were the two most important topics, but we also touched upon all other services which make up a town, from internet service to electricity supply.

We surveyed the building of a new hotel in downtown Hanover and spoke of its construction problems, including dealing with various soil types, e.g., an underground stream runs right through the middle of downtown Hanover.

On Day Two we rode town dump-trucks to and from a sand pit, then delivered the sand to a storage pile in the Hanover Public Works Department facilities. This natural sand will be mixed with manufactured sand and used to sand winter roads after the snow storms of next winter.

We watched the 5000-gallon tanks at Hanover's waste plant “in action.” The waste water facility handles approximately 1 million gallons of waste water per day, cleaning the water mostly by natural bacterial action, then delivering it into the Connecticut river. The most starling fact: The treated water delivered to the Connecticut River is cleaner than the drinking water delivered to Hanover homes!

Day Three: Students took a course in the use of a defibrillator, and received certification in CPR. We learned search-and-rescue techniques in a simulated building engulfed by fire. Students learned how to stay low because of heat-rarefied air; how to search in visually impaired situations; how to find people requiring assistance despite limited visibility; and carrying unconscious and/or impaired people to safety.

We rode in and helped to operate fire trucks, including a hook and ladder. Students were lifted over five stories about street level by an automated ladder on a fire truck.

Every worker we met in Hanover’s Public Works Department was incredibly skilled and knowledgeable. Each employee had a different set of skills, from water chemistry to carpentry to mechanics to electrician. These many skills fit together to make the town work seamlessly, and without worry, for all residents of Hanover. And here is the rest of it.