‘A lot of unknowns’: Grass Valley Assistant City Engineer Bjorn Jones said the city has adapted under the pandemic | TheUnion.com
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‘A lot of unknowns’: Grass Valley Assistant City Engineer Bjorn Jones said the city has adapted under the pandemic

While COVID-19 restrictions may have closed down many businesses and limited government services, it hasn’t stopped engineering.

Tasked with overseeing developments, capital projects and generally maintaining and improving the city’s infrastructure, Grass Valley Assistant City Engineer Bjorn Jones said progress has continued.

According to Jones, when the city first closed its offices to the public, the biggest challenge was the uncertainty.



“There was a lot of unknowns with it. We didn’t know how much either our tax revenue was going to be affected or funding sources might be affected,” he said. “We did have to cut back immediately and kind of streamline our staffing and operations to meet with the unknown.”

However, as the pandemic dragged on last year, the city found adding social distancing to its routine didn’t have to change much of the work.




“Obviously, it did have to have some impact, it is different, but we were able to adapt pretty well,” he said. “We’re pretty lucky in that a lot of our work can be done either remotely or at a desk.”

According to Jones, while his role does sometimes require on-site visits and face-to-face communication, they are almost always outside and with few people.

“When you’re talking through things with the developer and laying out requirements, or trying to brainstorm about the best way to do something, sometimes that comes off better in a face-to-face meeting rather than just over email or video. You don’t get all the little nuances,” he said.

Since adapting to the new workflow Jones said the challenge has been the interpersonal aspect, with coworkers spread out for social distancing and interacting less.

“I mean, just the interaction amongst staff has been greatly reduced, so that’s a little awkward,“ Jones said. ”Whether it’s just a little quick talk unnecessarily in the hallway, or whatever it is.“

He said since closing the office to the public he has been able to get more work done, but is eager to welcome back residents and hopes most things go back to normal. Having less in-person meetings wouldn’t hurt, though.

“I think for certain aspects and projects it’s been shown that that can be handled more efficiently,” Jones said. “That way where people don’t necessarily have to drive an hour or block out two hours of their time to go to a 20-minute meeting. I could see some of that continuing to post-pandemic for sure.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

KNOW & GO

What: Free virtual event “COVID-19 Fallout: How to Get Your Life Back”

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Speakers: Rachel Roos, director of Nevada County Social Services

Scott Lay, Nevada County superintendent of schools

Rick Hansen, vice president of Myers Investment Group at Baird Personal Wealth Management

Register here: https://covid19.theunion.com

 


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