St. Paul Park GAC Treatment Plant receives APWA-MN Honorable Mention for Project of the Year

APWA Award 2021

The St. Paul Park water treatment facility recently received an honorable mention for this year’s 2021 Minnesota Chapter APWA Project of the Year Award. The APWA Awards program recognizes excellence in public works.

The Granular Activated Carbon Water Treatment Plant was constructed to support public health by bringing cleaner drinking water to residents and businesses within the St. Paul Park community. The implementation of the plant has improved water quality and reduced the impact of harmful contaminants on community residents. To support the city’s vision for providing a sustainable solution, WSB performed services for design, bidding and construction administration and observation.

WSB is honored to partner with the city of St. Paul Park and Magney Construction on a project that has positively impacted the community of St. Paul Park.

WSB Director of Operations Chris Petree receives Hugo G. Erickson Award by the American Public Works Association – Minnesota Chapter

Chris Petree, WSB’s Director of Operations, was awarded the Hugo G. Erickson Award from the American Public Works Association – Minnesota Chapter (APWA-MN) on November 18, 2021, at the organization’s Annual Fall Conference.

The Hugo G. Erickson Award is presented to an individual who has provided years of superior service to the chapter, as well as assisted in furthering the chapter’s successful operation and goals. Petree has been involved in APWA-MN since 2000 and has served on many committees throughout his tenure, most notably serving as APWA-MN Chapter President in 2017. He is also the current Chapter Delegate.  

In addition to this recent achievement, Petree is also the 2021 recipient of the American Public Works Association National Harry S. Swearingen Award for Outstanding Chapter Achievement and Excellence in Chapter service.

“I am honored and humbled by such a prestigious honor,” said Petree. “APWA-MN has played a vital role in shaping my career and I am so proud to be part of an organization committed to the public works profession. To be recognized by my peers and colleagues is truly special and I’m grateful that I serve alongside some of our industry’s best and brightest.”

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WSB CEO Bret Weiss Elected to Lead the Minnesota Chamber Board of Directors as its 2021-22 Chair

Bret Weiss, president and CEO of WSB, was elected by the Minnesota Chamber to lead their Board of Directors as their 2021-22 Chair. The announcement was made official Nov. 18 at the Minnesota Chamber’s 2021 Economic Summit at the Omni Vikings Lake Hotel.

Bret Weiss

Weiss joined the Minnesota Chamber in 2010 to broaden WSB’s reach in the business community. Since, then he’s been heavily involved in the Chamber’s programs. He has served on the Board of Directors since 2017 and has been a member of the Foundation Board since 2019. He has also played an instrumental role in the Chamber’s Leadership Minnesota and Leaders Lab programs.

“The Chamber is a powerful connection point for Minnesota’s business community,” said Weiss. “We have a singular focus on improving the business environment to allow all businesses to be successful. My priorities over the next year are to work with our Board to grow opportunities for all employers, employees and entrepreneurs. We will concentrate on building connections across all businesses to enhance the impact we can have on Minnesota communities. I am honored to represent the business community and the Chamber as Board Chair.”

The Minnesota Chamber is a statewide organization representing more than 6,300 businesses of all types and sizes – and more than a half a million employers – through Minnesota. The Board is volunteer-based and represents businesses of all types and sizes across Minnesota. Weiss credits the Chamber for helping him think differently about business and strengthening WSB’s connections with the business community outside of the AEC industry.

WSB Named Finalist for 2021 Tekne Awards

WSB was recently named a finalist for the 2021 MN Tekne Awards in the Digital Transformation category. The Tekne Awards are presented by the Minnesota Technology Association each year to shine a spotlight on Minnesota’s science and technology community by honoring innovation across numerous industries.

WSB nominated TH 169: Redefine Elk River. The Minnesota Department (MnDOT) received special funding to convert Highway 169 from the Mississippi River to 197th Avenue into a freeway system through the City of Elk River. WSB was contracted to provide the final design for the project, which included converting four, at-grade traffic intersections into interchanges and modified highway access. The design needed to be iterative and flexible, and we needed to provide real time quantities to stay on budget.

In October 2021, the WSB team delivered the first set of fully digital paperless design plans to MnDOT. Historically, the Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) industry has been paper-heavy with many DOTs across the nation still requiring traditional plans. The transition to paperless is impacting the entire AEC industry, including DOTs, general contractors, and civil engineers.

The Tekne Awards Gala was held virtually in mid-November, drawing in the state’s most influential business, educational, and government leaders to celebrate the state’s science and technology-based economy. WSB is honored to be named a finalist in one of 13 categories that span a wide range of leading-edge technologies. The awards were chosen based on business impact, innovation, outcomes and judge discretion.

Q&A | Kyle Klasen

Kyle Klasen is the Director of Survey at WSB. In his role, Kyle oversees our survey staff nationwide, advances a visionary approach to industry practices and improves the efficiency and value of projects. Kyle’s innovative spirit and client-focused approach is admired by partners and staff. In this Q&A, Kyle reflects on his time at WSB and what the future of the surveying industry looks like.


My favorite part of leading the survey team is collaborating with everyone. Our team has a strong work ethic and are extremely dedicated to both WSB and the infrastructure industry. I enjoy being surrounded by motivated individuals who strive for new ideas and have ambition to do more.


I am excited and passionate about the work we do, and I want that excitement to come across to my team. A lot of our staff are motivated by delivering projects. They start a project when there is nothing there, and by the end of the year, they are able to see all that was accomplished by building and surveying. There is a certain satisfaction in seeing a highway, a road, or whatever it might be, from beginning to end.


I’d like people to know about the diversity and scope of the work that our team performs. We may be known for our construction abilities, but we do so much more. We have a large presence in the renewable realm on wind and solar projects, we work in the oil and gas industries, and we also do a lot of large-scale boundary work. We are also larger than our Minnesota staff. We have built a solid survey team in Colorado and are working on adding a survey team in Texas in the near future.


Our surveying team stand out among our competitors because we are incredibly innovative and forward thinking. We focus on utilizing technology and are extremely advanced in our abilities to manage and operate cutting-edge software. We are leading the industry in our use of 3D models and are leading many firsts in our industry when it comes to the tools we use. Our collaboration and partnerships allow us to be more productive and efficient in the field, ultimately saving contractors and owners money.


I like that everybody is always looking for new ways to solve our clients and contractors’ challenges. Creative and out-of-the-box thinking takes collaboration, and all our departments and functional groups work well together. We communicate and are willing to offer experience and solutions, even if it is outside our core functional group. At the end of the day, we have a team where every person is motivated, brings a positive attitude and collectively works together to deliver quality projects for our clients.


A recent strategic hire told me the main reason they joined WSB was because of the longevity of our staff. You can’t make that up. That sells what it means to be part of the WSB team. They’ve seen companies with turnover after turnover, and it’s clear that WSB is different. We really care for our staff, while providing numerous opportunities for leadership and career advancement for those wanting to stay and help grow the company.


We are going to see more and more of our processes become automated. We need to think differently and creatively on how we collaborate with contractors. The future of WSB surveying is about nurturing and preserving the client relationships that make our core market in Minnesota, while also fostering growth for our teams in Colorado, Texas, and around the country.


Early on in my WSB days, a client at Mathiowetz Construction, gave me a shot on a project. Our relationship has grown into an incredible partnership, and it opened my mind and eyes to what contractors are doing, what they need, and how they deliver a solid project. Trust and collaboration are key to achieving success. They changed my mind on how I think about construction. I attribute a lot of my career growth to that partnership and being given a chance to make an impact.


My most memorable moments were early on, as I was growing as a young land surveyor in a private company. I was fortunate to be working at WSB where they foster an environment of learning, problem solving and mentorship. I recall once finding myself in a particularly challenging situation where I couldn’t find a solution. Ron Bray, one of WSB’s founders, took the time to walk me through it and solve the problem. In retrospect, that situation not only taught me how to solve that problem, but also instilled me in me a desire to apply that same philosophy in managing my team. WSB encourages everyone to push boundaries, solve problems and work as a team to reach the end goal.

An Expansion Story: WSB in Texas

Planting our roots in the Lone Star State

In 2017, we began expanding our operations into Texas. Since then, we’ve gained momentum and have been working closely with our clients to provide engineering, planning, environmental and construction services throughout the state to both the public and private sectors. In the four years since we first entered the Lone Star State, we’ve focused on establishing strong client and partner relationships, and learning how to best support their infrastructure needs.


We set our sights on the Austin metro area to begin building a solid foundation. Our early-stage plan included three key factors: hiring talented staff, arming ourselves with local knowledge and taking a bold approach to how we position ourselves in a new, fast-growing market.


To help build our staff and gain local knowledge, we made two acquisitions: Austin-based Rogers Design Services and Houston-based Nathelyne A. Kennedy & Associates, Inc. Both acquisitions progressed our strategic growth goals and added to our momentum.

WSB acquired Rogers Design Services in early 2018. In operation since 2007, the firm provided engineering services for infrastructure improvement projects for the state, county and local level in central Texas. Dan Rogers, founder and President of RDS, joined WSB as the Director of Transportation Design – Texas.

NAK was founded in 1981 by Nathelyne A. Kennedy. Since then, Nathelyne has built an impressive operation in Houston serving government, institutional and commercial clients with a suite of comprehensive civil engineering design services that cover all aspects of infrastructure. NAK maintains operations in Houston as WSB, supporting clients and projects throughout the market.


Our culture drives our results, and our staff are vital in shaping our success. We’ve made several strategic hires since first entering the Texas market. These new team members have helped share the WSB story and support the infrastructure needs of our clients throughout the state. Recently, we welcomed four new members to our leadership team in Texas.

Stroud’s extensive network will support WSB’s growth and operations throughout the U.S. His experience and expertise will help us meet the needs of our clients while maximizing market growth.

Rob has over three decades of engineering experience. In his role at WSB, he will oversee our transportation growth, support business development efforts and manage strategic transportation pursuits.

Bryan is known throughout the Texas transportation industry for his planning, design and project management experience. As Director of Transportation, he will lead project management activities for TxDOT projects and support business development efforts in the Tyler, Texas area.

Steve’s experience extends through all phases of project development from feasibility studies to maintenance. Steve will lead project management activities with TxDOT and support business development efforts in the Austin, Texas area.

Christie leads WSB’s right of way projects in Texas by providing project management, acquisition and relocation services. She has over 25 years of experience in the right of way industry and has managed the acquisition of over 1,000 parcels throughout her career.

Melvin joins WSB with over 10 years of experience working on high-profile construction projects throughout Texas. In this role, Melvin works with our clients in the heavy civil construction market and supports construction inspection growth throughout Texas.


We’ve welcomed the opportunity to support cities, counties, the Texas Department of Transportation, utility companies, contractors and energy clients since we began operations. We value strong relationships, collaboration and forward-thinking ideas and we’re looking forward to discovering thoughtful and creative solutions with our clients in the future.

For years, the low water crossing at Bushy Creek had been closed due to flooding over half of the year. Frequent flooding prevented traffic flow for emergency vehicles, Cedar Park residents and also caused dangerous algae build up resulting in safety issues. To combat the flood prone bridge, WSB designed a low water, bridge class box crossing that channels high water under the bridge rather than over and removes the requirement for standard bridge railings. This innovative plan mitigated the street’s flooding issues, will keep the bridge open nearly all year and has ensured public safety.


The North Texas Tollway Authority needed to replace all ground mounted and selected overhead signs along main lanes, frontage roads, ramps and interchanges on a 16-mile stretch of the Sam Rayburn Tollway. Most of these signs were installed nearly 10 years ago and several panels had faded over time. WSB was contracted to review existing sign placement, appearance, and foundations. Using WSB 360, our team visually gathered data for each sign, creating significant cost savings and efficiencies.


The outlook in Texas is bright. It is one of the fastest growing states in the U.S., and WSB is well positioned to grow with it. We will continue to invest in the Texas region. We’ve been intentional about our hires, acquisitions and brand building – all have which led us to grow smarter. At WSB, we work differently. We are leading the industry in digital delivery methods, using cutting edge tools and hiring the industry’s best and brightest. We are well-positioned to support the infrastructure needs of our clients across our markets throughout Texas. As they say, everything is bigger in Texas and it’s the perfect time to partner with our clients to build what’s next.

“To take a risk and double down on growth, you need to have heart. I think every new hire, acquisition and client in Texas has understood that. We set our sights on supporting Texas’ infrastructure needs and we’re not letting our foot off the gas,” said Jay Kennedy, vice president of Texas operations. “We truly believe in the work we’re doing. Our communities understand this commitment and that’s what will continue to differentiate us in this market.”

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WSB Announces Acquisition of Peaks to Plains Design

Acquisition expands WSB’s services to the western U.S.

Design and consulting firm WSB today announced that they have finalized the acquisition of Peaks to Plains Design, an award-winning landscape architecture, civil engineering and planning firm based in Billings, Montana. The acquisition represents progress towards WSB’s strategic growth goals and will help to strengthen the firm’s presence in the western United States.

Peaks to Plains Design was founded in 2003 by Jolene Rieck. The firm is known for their collaborative approach with clients from ideation to implementation. Significant market areas include parks and recreation, transportation enhancements and sustainable site design. Their portfolio includes work nationally, but their primary focus is in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota.

“We are thrilled to add Jolene and Peaks to Plains Design to our WSB team,” said Bret Weiss, WSB president and CEO. “Our firm has expanded operations nationally, and Jolene’s impressive portfolio and experience will be a strong addition to our firm as we continue to expand in that direction.”

Rieck joins WSB as director of landscape architecture – western region. She brings 22 years of experience practicing landscape architecture and planning. She will merge the high-quality reputations of both firms to empower clients to advance their economic competitiveness, inspire creative placemaking and implement smart infrastructure to improved quality of life. She will help build business while providing leadership to the growing landscape architecture team. In addition, Rieck will be key in collaborating across WSB’s divisions and groups. 

 “We have been searching for the right person to help expand and lead our growing business and couldn’t be more pleased to have Jolene on our team,” said Jason Amberg, WSB’s director of landscape architecture. “She is well-respected within the profession and brings a wealth of creative talents and experience to WSB.”

Prior to joining WSB, Rieck served as the chief of planning and programs for North Dakota’s Department of Parks and Recreation. She was responsible for strategic leadership, natural resources, motorized and non-motorized trails, grants, planning and construction. She also was an executive staff officer with the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Rieck holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design from North Dakota State University.

“I chose WSB because of their alignment with my firm in values, business goals and innovative thinking,” said Rieck. “I am excited to work closely with the team to build the places, spaces and systems that support our lives.”

In addition to Rieck, Gordon Lemmel joins WSB as a landscape architect from Peaks to Plains Design. Rieck and Lemmel will operate from WSB’s Bismarck, North Dakota office.

Nathelyne A. Kennedy Receives Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award

The national award is given by the Zweig Group each year to someone working in the AEC industry who has made tremendous impacts through courageous leadership

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that Nathelyne A. Kennedy was awarded the Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award by the Zweig Group. The Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award is given annually to one individual working in the architecture, engineering, planning or environmental industry who has made a tremendous impact on their firm through courageous leadership.

Kennedy is the founder, President and CEO of Nathelyne A. Kennedy & Associates, Inc (NAK), a Houston-based civil engineering firm. She was the first Black woman to receive an engineering degree from a college or university in Texas in 1959. WSB acquired NAK in 2019, and today, Nathelyne continues to audit drawings for the firm’s most complex projects.

“Nathelyne treats her staff with a lot of respect,” said WSB President and CEO Bret Weiss. “She invests in people of color to advance them in our industry, an area that is severely lacking and is continuing to work hard and show how important leadership is in our industry, regardless of who you are. I am so proud that she has been recognized by our industry for her extraordinary accomplishments.”

Nathelyne was named Houston’s Engineer of the Year in 2016 and remains the only female to ever receive the award. She has also been previously named Minority Business Woman of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“The most rewarding part is the people,” said Kennedy. “Knowing that we have been successful, not knowing if we could do it, and then we proved we could. It has given meaning to my life and I am so proud of what we have accomplished.

Nathelyne accepted the prestigious award in Denver, Colorado earlier this month, during the Zweig ElevateAEC Conference Awards Gala. The Zweig Group is the leading research, publishing, and advisory services resource for firms in the architecture, engineering and construction industry.  

Moving Past the 2021 Minnesota Drought

By Alyson Fauske, Sr Project Manager, WSB

2021 has presented a number of challenges to communities, not least of which was a major drought. Minnesota was faced with above-normal temperatures along with lower-than-average precipitation, resulting in one of the worst droughts seen in the area in the last 20-30 years.

As we move into fall and winter in Minnesota, leaders may be thinking that the worst of the drought is over and that they can move on to thinking about managing winter snow and cold. However, the ramifications of the drought are likely to continue into 2022. Below is a list of some of the ways the drought may have longer-term effects to communities.

  1. Loss of saplings. Communities that implemented projects in 2021 that included planting saplings are likely going to find that many of them have not survived the year and are going to need to be replaced in the spring.  
  2. Mature tree loss. Due to the stress of drought, mature trees in the community may have suffered from pests or disease. These shade trees are a major resource to communities and may need to be treated or replaced.
  3. Watering restrictions. Many communities implemented watering restrictions due to drought conditions. Irrigation systems that ran too often or for too long used more resources than necessary leading to reduced water availability for daily needs. This also resulted in concerned or confused residents that didn’t understand how or why these restrictions were needed for the good of the community.
  4. Low reserves of community water supplies. In addition to increased watering demands for vegetation, valuable water was often lost through inefficient or defective equipment in many residents and businesses.
  5. Well interference. Drought can often result in domestic or municipal wells running out of water. The MN DNR received significantly more calls this year than normal about dry wells that require them to investigate and often result in owners or municipalities incur repair costs.

Nearly all Minnesota cities experienced some or all these challenges this summer. As a result of the extreme stress put on local water infrastructure, the MN DNR has put together the 2021 Drought Assistance Proposal. This proposal includes a request for $13.3 million in funding to help cities address the effects of this drought.

WSB is tracking the funding package as it moves through the legislature and will be prepared to assist clients with grant applications for the fund as well as identify other funding opportunities that are tied to this effort.

Alyson is a Senior Project Manager in WSB’s Municipal Group and the City Engineer for the City of Minnetrista. With 20 years of engineering experience in the municipal industry, Alyson Fauske has built her career providing municipal engineering services throughout the Twin Cities.

[email protected] | 763.512.5244

The Three Key Benefits of Stream Restoration


By Luke Lunde, Professional Soil Scientist and Amy Anderson, Project Engineer, WSB

Rivers and streams are a dynamic mixture of water, sediment, aquatic organisms and riparian vegetation. The form of rivers and streams change over time as erosion, accumulation and conveyance of sediment occurs.

Rural and urban surface water runoff and pollution make rivers and streams among the most degraded ecosystems, leading to impaired water quality, biological condition and aquatic habitat. Restoration involves returning a stream or river to a natural shape and condition, so it is well suited to convey water and sediment supply from the watershed.

Restoration projects take many forms and encompass many goals, but three of the most common are to improve water quality, mitigate habitat loss to protect fish and wildlife, and increase the public’s ability to use the channel for fishing and other recreational activities.

Along the way, people access rivers and streams as a means of transportation, hydroelectric energy, recreation and more. We rely heavily on rivers and streams as a water source. That’s why keeping them healthy is so important through watershed protection and restoration.

An added benefit of protection and restoration is that it contributes to sustainability. Rivers and streams provide spaces for water to flow in the event of severe weather like a flood. Communities that have well-maintained channels that have connections to its floodplain have built resiliency into their infrastructure systems so they’re more prepared when faced with extreme weather events.

We work closely with our clients on restoration projects that result in an improved habitat for people, animals and fish populations not only at a project site, but further downstream as well. When the protection and enhancement of water quality is considered as part of a watershed approach or a community’s larger infrastructure planning, the benefits are numerous.


Rivers and streams are important public resources, and the quality of the water in them may determine how they can be used. Many areas along rivers and streams have highly erodible banks. Erosion causes nutrient loading to the river or stream, and when these nutrients are transported downstream, they impact water quality throughout the entire system.

When we improve water quality, we reduce loss of riparian habitat and protect aquatic wildlife living in and around rivers and streams, including fish, insects and plants. Taking actionable steps towards improvement results in an increase of aquatic wildlife populations or species diversity. Improving water quality and habitat make an already valued water resource even more valuable to the public.


Rivers and streams are critical habitat for wildlife, both in and out of the water. Erosion can make riverbanks unstable and decrease water quality and clarity. Stabilizing stream banks addresses these issues. During a recent restoration of the North Fork of the Zumbro River in Wabasha County, MN, we installed a toe wood structure along the riverbank to create an in-stream habitat for both fish and the aquatic insects to improve access to their food source. The toe wood structure will help maintain and enhance game fish populations and stabilize eroded streambanks.


Wildlife and people must be able to access rivers and streams to make use of them. By addressing water quality and mitigating habitat loss, accessibility is improved. Now, wildlife can utilize a restored, sustainable aquatic resource while at the same time improving public use for fishing, hunting, swimming and other recreational activities.

Luke Lunde
Luke is a Minnesota Professional Soil Scientist in WSB’s Environmental Natural Resources Group, and he has over nineteen years of natural resource and environmental review experience. Luke’s experience includes soil survey mapping, geologic hazard assessments, karst feature mapping and mitigation plans, wetland delineation, wetland banking, wetland mitigation, habitat restoration, invasive species management, grant writing, erosion control compliance site management, habitat restoration, invasive species management, natural resource planning, environmental permitting and compliance, for numerous projects throughout the Midwest.

Amy Anderson
Amy has over nine years of professional experience in water resources engineering, specializing in stream restoration and watershed management. Amy’s experience in stream restoration spans the project cycle, from surveying and design through construction observation and post-project monitoring. Amy has been the primary author or co-author of Surface Water Management Plans for two separate municipalities (West St. Paul and North St. Paul) and one watershed district (Valley Branch Watershed District) in the metro area and has presented to citizen’s groups, municipal committees, and city councils on surface water management and planning.