Texas Municipal League Municipal Excellence Award Winners for 2010
(Under 25,000 population)
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Melissa (City Spirit)
Faced with the challenge of communicating its message to citizens across generations, Melissa city staff approached students at the Melissa Middle School for help, believing that young people of this age interact with several age groups and have a keen understanding of the newest media venues. The students presented a set of recommendations to the city council, which unanimously passed a resolution adopting a number of them. As a result, the city decided to place an RSS feed on pages throughout the city Web site, to reproduce water bill inserts and other public notices on colored paper to maximize the attention they receive, to continue sending e-mails and text messages to distribute information, and to create a city Web page dedicated to posting PowerPoint presentations that were currently displayed in city hall. This project was unique because it enabled students to participate actively in the policy-making of their city and it can easily be modeled in any city facing a challenge. video
Sachse (Communication Programs)
In late fall 2009, Sachse and surrounding cities experienced a series of burglaries to homes occupied by citizens of Asian descent. The following spring, city leaders committed many resources to address this problem. Police staff created a “Crime Alert Warning Flyer” in both English and Vietnamese and posted it to the city’s Web site. The flyer was also distributed by Community Emergency Response Team volunteers to all homes with occupants of Asian descent, area banks, and Asian-frequented businesses. Two Vietnamese radio stations agreed to help by alerting the public in the Dallas area, and a police lieutenant gave live interviews to both stations. The city’s large message board on a major highway posted several warnings, interviews and stories were featured in local media, and extra police patrols were added. After this aggressive—yet inexpensive—communication campaign, the Asian community felt much more included in the city, and not a single burglary occurred again in Sachse. video
Kennedale (Management Innovations)
Working with M.P.A students from the University of Texas at Arlington, the city instituted a new staff development strategy by providing ethical decision-making training for department heads, supervisory staff, and professional staff. Each staff member worked with three U.T.A. graduate students during the 12-week program that focused on ethical cases, the development of a personal ethical statement, and the development of an ethics model based on principle, virtue, and consequences. After analyzing the data collected by Texas Wesleyan University and reviewing the final report by the professor who oversaw the training, city staff determined that Kennedale is successfully moving the ethical culture toward outcome consideration based on caring for those inside and outside the organization. Because this staff development strategy has proven very effective, plans are underway to continue it and to engage more employees.video
Borger (Public Safety)
Following an outbreak of major wildfires in 2006, the city decided to take a proactive approach to mitigating the threat of wildfires and educating citizens about wildfire safety in the Rural/Urban Interface. First, the city council adopted by ordinance the Rural/Urban Interface Hazard Mitigation Program, which gave the fire department authority to conduct authorized burns to reduce dangerous vegetation within the city's Rural/Urban Interface. At the same time, the fire department established fire safety home assessments and increased its public education program with a door-to-door distribution of information about wildfire preparedness and safety to citizens. In 2009, the Texas Forest Service named Borger the first full city in the state and the country to be recognized as a FireWise Community. Since the hazard mitigation program began, nine authorized burns have been conducted to reduce dangerous vegetation across more than 1,000 acres, and the program is now a model program for cities throughout Texas. video
Jacksonville (Public Works)
In 1995, the city enacted an Oil and Grease Ordinance to minimize the amount of grease entering the city's sewer pipes. Later, the city instituted the Clean Pipe Award, a certificate presented to food service establishments that abide by the ordinance and have not incurred any violations during the previous 12 months. This award has led to a heightened awareness of the problem by local food establishments and greater cooperation from them. It encourages those who receive it to continue their diligence in limiting the amount of oil and grease discharged to the city's treatment plant, and it motivates those not receiving it to improve their practices. From June 2009 through May 2010, 20 of the city's 64 food service establishmentsmore than 30 percentwere awarded a certificate and received recognition in the local newspaper. Since the ordinance was ratified, the number of sanitary sewer overflows has significantly decreased in the city. The resulting savings to the city in time, money, and manpower has been considerable. video
Additional information on the TML Municipal Excellence Awards Program can be obtained by calling the TML offices at 512-231-7400.