Texas Municipal League Municipal Excellence Award Winners for 2005
(Under 25,000 population)
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Lockhart (Public Works)
With the cooperation of adjacent property owners, the Lockhart Public Works Department completed a parks project that accomplished several goals simultaneously: preserving more than 20 natural water springs that attracted early settlers to this area, improving drainage and safety for area residents, creating two new neighborhood parks, refurbishing ponds, and building a lighted ADA walkway that connects three parks. The parks feature playscapes, picnic tables, benches, and barbeque pits, and families now enjoy fishing with family and friends in the improved ponds. More than 300 residents benefited from the clean-up and drainage improvements completed in conjunction with the construction of the walking trail and two new parks. In addition, more than 13,500 citizens of Lockhart and countless visitors to the city will enjoy these amenities for many years to come. video
Bastrop, Elgin, and Smithville (Communications)
When these three cities, located in fast-growing Bastrop County, began to encounter numerous problems due to growth, they initiated a county-wide communications program entitled BEST, which stands for Bastrop*Elgin*Smithville*Texas. Elected officials and staff professionals from the cities, school districts, and county gather at a monthly breakfast meeting to collaborate, promote open communication, share assets, discuss challenges, highlight each citys successes, and foster opportunities for partnerships. The program has resulted in more than 14 ongoing, collaborative projects, saving all three cities money and benefiting approximately 75,000 citizens of Bastrop County. Communities that once were rivals on and off the football field are now benefiting from a cooperative spirit created and enhanced by the BEST Communications Program.video
Fairview (Management Innovations)
Like many small cities, Fairview is sometimes torn by the conflict between rapid growth and a desire to retain the towns original rural feel, look, and spirit. Historically, the town had allowed virtually no signs, but new development and a growing population called for signage. So the town developed a signage program that groups signs in a few common locations. In a partnership with developers, neighborhoods, and specialized destinations, the town created and installed high quality signs at no cost to the town. These signs were installed in only five locations around Fairview, and all other signs were removed. Each ten-foot sign has a stone base, lists eight destinations, has the same configuration, and features the town logo at the top.This program has resulted in fewer signs in the area, and it has ensured the consistency, efficiency, and quality of those signs. video
Highland Village (Public Safety)
The Highland Village Police Department implemented an innovative, easily adaptable, and cost-effective method for disseminating timely information to more than 1,200 residential households and local businesses. Dubbed E-Watch, this interactive communication tool combines modern technology with traditional neighborhood crime watch. Real-time information is relayed to members of a cyber neighborhood watch program using the Internet, e-mail, and web-based softwarefree services resulting in no cost to the city. Through E-Watch, participants are kept informed and up-to-date with the latest public safety information.Impressed with the success of the neighborhood program, the city soon expanded E-Watch to include local businesses.In the year since E-Watch was initiated, reported offenses in neighborhoods are down 16 percent and arrests are down 5 percent.video
Andrews (City Spirit)
The winner in the city spirit category is the City of Andrews. In cooperation with Andrews County and the Andrews Independent School District, the City of Andrews partnered with Odessa College and UT-Permian Basin to construct the Andrews Business and Technology Center, scheduled to open in January 2006. Funds from a $1.25 million U.S. Department of Commerce economic development grant and nearly 1 million dollars in city/county funds have combined to build one of only two city-owned technology centers in Texasa 17,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility providing higher education, vocational training, and workforce development. The center is the realization of a 40-year dream to make higher education more affordable and accessible to area residents. It will be instrumental in improving the skills of the local workforce, increasing retention of young adults, providing an affordable and accessible higher education alternative, and attracting business investments.video
Additional information on the TML Municipal Excellence Awards Program can be obtained by calling Karla Vining at the TML offices, (512) 231-7400.