2017 Texas Municipal Excellence Award Winners
The City seized on an opportunity to turn a neglected downtown alley into a focal point for community activities and nightlife. The City obtained ownership of the privately-owned alley and improved its appearance while still keeping its industrial look. Named “The Alley on Third,” it is now a downtown destination and home to weekly entertainment from local musicians.
Surrounding restaurants and business are also benefiting from increased foot traffic. The Alley’s transformation was accomplished with minimal investment thanks to the close cooperation between City staff, public works employees, local utilities, the Main Street Board, and volunteers. Creative and collaborative thinking transformed an eyesore into a downtown attraction that Mount Pleasant residents and visitors can enjoy for years to come.
With limited staff and resources, the Town developed a strategy to enhance communications with its citizens. Multiple platforms are used to encourage an open dialogue within the community, including the Town’s marquee, website, social media, email updates, print, and broadcast media. Laguna Vista staff sends regular email updates about community events, ordinances, projects, and upcoming meetings, and also shares this information on its Facebook page and website.
The communications strategy is fully embraced by all city leaders and employees, and together they continue to challenge themselves to improve messaging. Thanks to thoughtful planning, the Town of Laguna Vista keeps its citizens fully informed while actively promoting transparency and openness. This openness will pay dividends well into the future as the community tackles challenges and creates opportunities for growth.
Faced with the knowledge that a significant number of supervisors and department heads were retiring in the next five years, the City developed a three-step employee succession plan. The first step involved a comprehensive needs assessment of retirements and new staffing needs. During the second step, potential future leaders were identified.
The final step was the implementation of a training and education program geared at developing leadership and management skills. Training sessions covered planning, supervising, budgeting, human resources, and leadership styles. To date, three classes of 32 students have participated in the program, and two graduates have already advanced to management positions. The City of Fredericksburg’s succession plan is ensuring the professional growth of its employees, who embody City values and take pride in the community.
The Kerrville Fire Department has been involved in a multi-year, multi-agency effort to ensure that there is at least one smoke detector inside every structure in the community. Partnering with the American Red Cross and the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office, members of the Kerrville Fire Department have conducted a number of block walks in neighborhoods throughout the City.
These teams get to know citizens, check all smoke detectors in their homes, replace batteries, and install new smoke detectors, thanks to a generous donation from Home Depot, where needed. When a resident isn’t home, the teams leave door hangers with helpful reminders. While significant progress has been made, the Fire Department will continue to work to reduce and prevent the number of fires and fire-related injuries within the City of Kerrville well into the future.
The Prosper Book Trail is a collaboration among the Community Library, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office to bring literature outdoors to those enjoying the Town’s parks, ball fields, and walking trails. With a mission to promote literacy, fitness, and family engagement, 23 permanent four-foot podium posts with large colorful platforms were placed along a paved walking trail.
The laminated pages of a book are then displayed at each platform so that stories may be read as families walk the trail. Books are changed out every three weeks to encourage return visits. The kick-off event included a visit from the author of the featured book and a well-attended celebration. The Prosper Book Trail encourages people to enjoy literature outside the library in a unique, fun, and entertaining way.
Over 25,000 population categories
Love the Rock is a day of service that was made possible by the coordination of more than 35 churches of numerous denominations, the City, neighborhood associations, and the solid waste collection company. Together, they assembled 1,200 volunteers to work on more than 200 homes of those in need, including the elderly, disabled, people recovering from surgery or illness, and single parents.
During the 2016 event, a record-breaking 555 tons of garbage along with 93 tons of brush were removed. Using tools from the City’s Tool Lending Center, volunteers mowed and weeded lawns, trimmed trees and bushes, hauled heavy items, and much more. The clean-up event alleviated 37 standing code violations and prevented numerous more. Love the Rock did more than beautify a neighborhood; it truly changed residents’ quality of life.
Your City in 5 (YC5) is a weekly video of upcoming El Paso events and meetings, project updates, and information on frequently asked questions about City operations. Each weekly five-minute video quickly informs residents and businesses, and keeps them engaged. YC5 is distributed every Thursday via email and social media.
The video is shown on El Paso’s municipal television broadcasting station and on digital signage monitors throughout municipal buildings. City representatives and departments also share the segments through their electronic newsletters. The email distribution list continues to expand, and social media viewing has grown significantly in the past year. YC5 is successfully showcasing programs and other efforts that are shaping and improving the quality of life in El Paso.
The City Champions Program was designed to ensure that interacting and doing business with the City of Corpus Christi is an enjoyable, professional, and productive experience. The program incorporates aggressive recruitment practices, training on customer service core values, recognizing exemplary employees, and providing professional development opportunities to those seeking to further themselves and their careers.
Customized customer service training is provided for administrative staff, field employees, and supervisors. Recognition awards include monetary and non-monetary employee awards, volunteer of the year, and employee of the year awards, to name a few. The City Champions Program has helped Corpus Christi develop a reputation for superior customer service, instill a spirit of lifelong learning, and increase productivity due the focus on continuing education and skill development.
The Mansfield Police Department, like other police departments, regularly deals with incidents of violence and potential violence from individuals struggling with mental illness. While direct resources are available to assist with the individuals themselves, there wasn’t much assistance for family members dealing with a loved one’s struggles.
To help mitigate possible dangerous scenarios for these family members and police officers, the Mental Health Liaison Program was created for spouses, parents, and other family members of the mentally ill. The program offers a twice monthly support groups with a health-certified police officer liaison, guest speakers, and counselors; weekly visits with families by officers and mental health professionals; and training for police officers in the City and across the state.
Always striving to provide amenities that raise the quality of life for its citizens and visitors alike, Harlingen worked to bring the first all-inclusive playground facilities to South Texas. The City set the goal of providing playgrounds that all children can enjoy in existing parks as a result of the 2016 One Vision, One Harlingen Comprehensive Plan.
The involvement of the Parks Advisory Board, City staff, the City Commission, and most importantly, citizens from all over the community was critical to the project’s success. Thanks to an innovative partnership between the City government, Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, and private donors, three all-inclusive playgrounds have opened to the joy of children of all ages and abilities. Harlingen knows that “a child’s life can change for the better, with a better playground.”