2007 Texas Municipal League Municipal Excellence Awards

(Over 25,000 population)


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Odessa (Public Works)

An unattractive land depression, created by ancient herds of bison, served as a natural drainage area for streets in a highly visible section of Odessa. Under the guidance of the city, civic leaders, organizations, and citizens transformed the area into a vibrant city park. Included in the project is a lighted water fountain that aerates the water in a scenic pond, a fully developed hiking and biking trail, new landscaping and an irrigation system to support it, a xeriscape demonstration garden, an array of trees made available through a memorial program, and numerous art sculptures provided by private donations. The indentation in the landscape that was created more than a century ago by herds of bison is now a regional attraction that has aided in economic development, visual landscape enjoyment, and enhanced water management. video

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Sugar Land (Communications)

Going beyond flyers, newsletters, and Web sites, Sugar Land has reached out to residents to increase their involvement and communication with their city government. Specifically, the city offers citizen academies at no charge to residents wanting to learn more about and become involved in their city. The academies have evolved from the initial interest in public safety—traditional in most cities—to several academies developed to cover many areas of city government. Today, seven are offered: the Police Academy, the Community Assistance Support Team, the Fire Academy, the Community Emergency Response Teams, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, Sugar Land 101, and Serve Sugar Land. All these academies are very popular, typically filling within a few days after enrollment begins.video

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San Marcos (Management Innovations)

A unique collaboration of the city, state and federal agencies, contractors, and citizens turned a potential disaster—a collapsing dam—into a city triumph. The possible demise of the Rio Vista Dam made its emergency repair crucial to the economic well-being of San Marcos, as well as the quality of the river. As city leaders considered possible solutions, citizens urged them to “think outside the box.” Instead of just repairing the dam, why not transform it into a beautiful whitewater park? After detailed discussions, the city council embraced the idea and put emergency funds in place. The transformation project, which was completed in only 47 days, not only created a wonderful new playground, but also improved the critical habitat for aquatic species in the river, including two endangered species. video

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Sugar Land (Public Safety)

Noting the value of volunteerism during emergencies, Sugar Land launched an initiative to mobilize volunteer resources. The Sugar Land Police Department reorganized its Community Assistance Support Team, or CAST, which is primarily composed of graduates of the Citizens Police Academy. Participants attending the CAST Academy receive ten hours of training in the classroom and eight hours in the field. During major emergencies—such as SWAT operations, HazMat incidents, fatality accidents, and natural disasters—CAST members focus on the rehabilitation of public safety workers, crowd control, traffic control, and phone banks. Thanks to CAST, Sugar Land now has a readily available pool of volunteers to support city operations during emergencies that can strain city resources. video

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Pflugerville (City Spirit)

Recognizing the importance of preserving the history of those who settled in the area eight or nine decades ago, volunteers in Pflugerville decided to publish a book that would capture the pioneer spirit and daily lives of the early settlers. In the process, 14 interviews were videotaped, transcribed, and excerpted in a book entitled Pflugerville: A Heritage to Remember. Old photographs and maps were also gathered so the book could include timely illustrations of stories about farming the land while making do with rationed supplies and little to eat. More than 2,400 volunteer hours were contributed to the project, which was completed in less than 12 months. The estimated value of producing the book exceeded $50,000, yet it cost less than $5,000 in cash. The book was so well received that it sold out in ten days, prompting a second printing.video

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Additional Information

Additional information on the TML Municipal Excellence Awards Program can be obtained by callingthe TML offices at 512-231-7400.

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