Blog Archive for the ‘AZ Cities @ Work’ Category

City of El Mirage Welcomes Eight New Firefighters


Congratulations to the City of El Mirage’s eight new firefighters!

El Mirage Fire Department held a badge pinning ceremony for eight new firefighters. These firefighters have completed their first year on the job, or probationary period, and were sworn in by El Mirage Fire Chief Jim Wise as full firefighters.  Mayor Lana Mook stated, “We are extremely proud of our new firefighters and wish them the best of luck in their new roles.”

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month!


Have you visited your city or town library lately?

Libraries aren’t just shelves full of dusty books anymore… they’re places of learning, networking, technology and exploration!

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, so it’s the perfect opportunity to plug into your city or town library. Arizona’s city and town libraries are full of opportunities to take classes, explore new technology, get involved with your community, and yes, even check out books!

Learn more about Library Card Sign-Up Month from the American Library Association or find your local Arizona city or town library to sign up for your card!

Municipal Clerks Recognized with Statewide Awards

Three Arizona municipal clerks were recently recognized by the Arizona Municipal Clerks Association Executive Board for their dedication to their positions and their communities. In addition to awarding its annual Municipal Clerk of the Year Award, the Arizona Municipal Clerks Association (AMCA) awarded two new awards: Deputy Clerk of the Year Award and President’s Award of Distinction.

Clerks_001This year was the first year the Arizona Municipal Clerks Association (AMCA) awarded a Deputy Clerk of the Year Award. This inaugural award was given to Darcie McCracken, Glendale Deputy City Clerk. 

Darcie has been deputy city clerk for Glendale since 2004 and AMCA member since 2005. She received her Master Municipal Clerk in 2011 and is certified as an AMCA Municipal Election Official as well as a Certified Election Officer through the Secretary of State’s office.

Darcie graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from ASU in Administration of Justice and holds an associate’s degree in general studies.  She continued her education with certification as a Certified Public Manager and is currently taking classes through the ASU Management Leadership Institute.  So you can see that Darcie is a believer of lifelong learning.

Darcie has put forward incredible time and effort as a member of AMCA to promote the organization and the role of deputy clerk.  During her tenure on the AMCA Board, she served as Past-President for two terms to provide institutional knowledge and continuity for the Board; today she continues to be heavily involved in our organization and is currently chairing the newly formed Past-President’s Ad Hoc Committee, which is spear heading AMCA’s first strategic plan.

Darcie is a respected member of the AMCA organization and it shows in the level of leadership and commitment she has made throughout the years and continues to make as she frequently facilitates various AMCA training sessions. Clerks_003


The recipient of the inaugural AMCA President’s Award of Distinction is Lisa Garcia, Florence Town Clerk and Deputy Town Manager.

Lisa has been a member of AMCA since 1995.  She was appointed the Florence Town Clerk in 1996 and as Deputy Town Manager in 2007, which added further duties and responsibilities to her already full work-load.

Lisa received her Master Municipal Clerk designation in 2006 and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration.  She served on the AMCA Board from 2009 until 2015.  During this period she served two years as AMCA President and then an additional year as Past President.  She implemented the process of holding an AMCA Board Retreat with Committee Chairs, which is still the practice.

Throughout her time as a clerk, Lisa has promoted the clerk profession and instilled in those around her a sense of pride in what we do.  Lisa has frequently said that it’s up to us to make those around us understand that being clerk is much more than being a secretary and just taking minutes at the meetings; Lisa lives by example and these ideals.  She has also served on many outside organizations and agencies with the goal of elevating the clerk’s profession and ensuring that the integrity of the position was recognized as more than a clerical position.

Lisa is a perfect example of a citizen who believes in the philosophy of making your community the best it can be and then doing the work to ensure that it is the best it can be.  She continues to work diligently to ensure that she is proficient in all areas of the clerk’s profession.  Over the years Lisa has continued to promote the clerks around her and this year she vigorously compiled the nomination packets that were sent to IIMC for two deserving Arizona clerks for consideration of the prestigious Quill Award.

Lisa continues to serve AMCA by working on committees and specifically for her work on the Past-President’s Ad-Hoc Committee, which was tasked with establishing a formal strategic plan.  She continues to present at training sessions and the Institute/Academy and does so with an easy conversationalist style and she is always willing to share information and considered a “go-to” person.

It’s Lisa’s longtime commitment to clerks and the clerk profession, her willingness to assist others, her ability to have a long-term vision, and her dedication to promoting and supporting other clerks is why she is deserving of this recognition as being the first to receive the AMCA President’s Award of Distinction.

Clerks_002The distiction of the annual 2016 AMCA Clerk of the Year was presented to Carrie Dyrek, Town Clerk for Cave Creek. 

Carrie began her career in 1990 as the deputy clerk/treasurer in DeForest, Wisconsin.  In 1994 she accepted the position of city clerk in Yuma, AZ, becoming the first “professional” city clerk that Yuma had hired in many years.  She worked diligently to professionalize the office and elevate the position from “secretary” to city clerk mentoring her staff not only on the technical aspects of the city clerk’s office but also on the soft skills, such as communications, which are vital to becoming successful leader.

Since Carrie became a member of AMCA in 1994, she has actively participated in events and training, to include board membership, committee membership, and presenting at workshops and training events.  Based on her past experience in Wisconsin, she worked with AMCA to re institute the annual summer conference as an opportunity for individuals to gain additional IIMC education points for CMC/MMC certification.  In 2001, she was elected to the AMCA Board and served as President during the 2003-04 year.  During her time on the AMCA Board, the Board strived to improve the organization, update its processes, streamline the workflow and get other members more involved in the organization.

Cave Creek Mayor Francia commented that, “Carrie is a professional, someone who is dedicated, knowledgeable, organized, an attentive listener, and one who possesses common sense problem solving and that he feels Carrie is a standard by which those embarking upon this profession would aspire.”

Cave Creek Town Manager Jankowski stated, “that while her knowledge of a town clerk’s duties and responsibilities is exceptional, it is her interaction with residents and staff that make her an ideal candidate for Clerk of the Year.  She oversees our elections, technology, and administrative staff in professional and friendly manner.  Most importantly, she is a servant of the citizens.”

Carrie currently serves as interim town manager at this time and she handles all of this without a deputy clerk or full-time assistant.  Carrie represents the office of the clerk with integrity, professionalism and yet manages to keep her office feeling open and inviting. Sometimes in government, you lose the welcoming aspect of an office and Carrie manages to balance it with grace and style.



Gilbert “Can’t Stop the Feeling”

Town of Gilbert residents and businesses accepted Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” dance challenge. Gilbert has released a parody video showcasing community members, from less than one to 92, dancing along to the hit song. Local businesses, including TopGolf, Liberty Market, Funktional Fitness, Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, Joe’s Real BBQ and others, also got in the spirit.

“The song is all about dancing through your city, your home,” said Gilbert Mayor John Lewis. “We saw this as an opportunity to bring the community together and, boy, did they exceed all expectations.”

The video was filmed by Gilbert’s in-house Digital Communications Department over a 24-hour period.

Naming Contest Underway for Eaglet Hatched in Clarkdale this Week

2016 eaglet first pic

Word is quickly spreading that Clarkdale’s local celebrity Bald Eagle couple, Clark and Dale, successfully hatched a baby eaglet in their nest near TAPCO on the Verde River @ Clarkdale.  In February, 2014, Clark and Dale gained local recognition when their nest was discovered in a tree at the boat launch site that the Town of Clarkdale was developing as a public river access point.

To help insure protection of the nest site, and increase the chances that Clark and Dale would successfully fledge an eaglet, the Town of Clarkdale and land owner Freeport McMoran, Inc. took action immediately, and relocated the public river access point to its new location at the Lower TAPCO RAP (3400 Sycamore Canyon Road).

Unfortunately, Clark and Dale’s 2014 egg did not hatch, nor did the egg they laid in a nearby nest in the 2015 season.  This year, after a tip from Verde Canyon Railroad employees, Nest Watch volunteers documented that Clark and Dale had moved their nest to another new location (near the Verde Canyon Railroad tracks) and a single egg was incubated at the end of January, 2016.

Employees on the Verde Canyon Railroad have continued to observe Clark and Dale alternating shifts on the nest throughout the first quarter of the year, and were the first to report a sighting of the hatched eaglet in early April, 2016!

April will be a sensitive period for the young hatchling, as it will be vulnerable to the elements.  Strong spring winds in Arizona have been known to blow nests out of trees, killing the young hatchlings in the process.  At 4 to 8 weeks (during May), the vulnerability gradually decreases.  The biggest risks during this time occur if nestlings miss feedings or leave the nest prematurely due to disruption.  The period after the nestlings reach 8 weeks old (in early June) is another very sensitive time.   The eaglet is gaining flight capability, but may not be quite ready to test its wings.  If flushed from the nest prematurely due to disruption, the eaglet can die.

While uncharacteristic human activity in the area of the nest could pose disruption, the fact that Clark and Dale chose to nest near the train tracks indicates their tolerance for the daily trips associated with the Verde Canyon Railroad, and those trips should pose no unusual disruption for Clark, Dale and their young nestling.  Passengers on the train will get the enviable opportunity to catch a glimpse of the young nestling as it continues to mature before leaving the nest.  Because other activity in the area could pose a risk to the eagles, the Verde Canyon Railroad has established a Flickr photo page dedicated to watching the progress of this new eaglet!  Those who can’t ride the train to see the baby will have the opportunity to enjoy the progress here.

We’re hoping to see our young eaglet not only survive, but thrive, and take to the air sometime in June.  As we continue to follow its progress, we’d like the public to weigh in to help name the young eaglet.  On-line voting for a name will begin April 11th on the Town of Clarkdale website.

Millionth Fan at Goodyear Ballpark

 Ryan Lantz, director of Arizona operations for the Cleveland Indians, 1 Millionth Fan Jean Wilson, Mike Saverino, director of Arizona operations for the Cincinnati Reds and Bruce Kessman, general manager of Goodyear Ballpark. Photo Courtesy of City of Goodyear.

Ryan Lantz, director of Arizona operations for the Cleveland Indians, 1 Millionth Fan Jean Wilson, Mike Saverino, director of Arizona operations for the Cincinnati Reds and Bruce Kessman, general manager of Goodyear Ballpark. Photo Courtesy of City of Goodyear.

Jean Wilson of Las Vegas, who grew up in the west Cleveland suburb of Westlake, Ohio, was recognized as the 1 Millionth Fan at Goodyear Ballpark in the middle of the fourth inning during Saturday night’s attendance record, sold-out Cleveland Indians spring training game against the Chicago Cubs (11,616). She was showered with confetti and a glittery hat as she jumped up and down in disbelief and excitement.

Wilson, a retired physical therapist and lifelong Cleveland Indians fan, also received a gift basket, a special jersey with the Reds and Indians team logos on the sleeve and won a trip to where else? Las Vegas. What are the odds of that? After the end of the Indians 10-5 win over the Cubs, Jean was taken onto the field where she pulled envelopes out of a basket to win a chance at winning $1 million, $10,000 or a trip to Las Vegas.

Jean and her husband, Craig, attend two Indians spring training games each year since Goodyear Ballpark opened in 2009. In fact, the screensaver on her cell phone is the 2016 Cleveland Indians schedule.

“I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it,” Wilson said of being the 1 Millionth Fan. “This is one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. Win or lose, I’m an Indians fan. I want to see them win the World Series.”

Goodyear Ballpark's 1 Millionth Fan, Jean Wilson. Photo Courtesy of City of Goodyear

Goodyear Ballpark’s 1 Millionth Fan, Jean Wilson. Photo Courtesy of City of Goodyear

Jean’s husband, Craig, said, “This is great. It doesn’t get any better than this. When we were coming into the game, Jean was talking about the 1 Millionth Fan – and she’s it. This is uncanny.”

A native of Cleveland, Wilson fondly recalled earning free tickets to Indians games at Municipal Stadium for earning Straight A’s in school.

In 2010, she also threw out the first pitch at a regular-season Indians game at Progressive Field, a birthday present from her sister.

Ryan Lantz, director of Arizona operations for the Cleveland Indians, 1 Millionth Fan Jean Wilson, Mike Saverino, director of Arizona operations for the Cincinnati Reds and Bruce Kessman, general manager of Goodyear Ballpark.

Pictured in the fourth picture are Jean Wilson and her husband, Craig, who met each other in Westlake.

Tempe City Clerk Brigitta Kuiper is Arizona Municipal Clerks’ Association “Clerk of the Year”


Tempe City Clerk Brigitta Kuiper recognized as AMCA Clerk of the Year at Tempe City Council Meeting with Mayor Mark Mitchell and Councilmembers Lauren Kuby, Kolby Granville, Joel Navarro & Robin Arredondo-Savage.

Tempe City Clerk Brigitta Kuiper recognized as AMCA Clerk of the Year at Tempe City Council Meeting with Mayor Mark Mitchell and Councilmembers Lauren Kuby, Kolby Granville, Joel Navarro & Robin Arredondo-Savage.

Tempe City Clerk Brigitta Kuiper was named the “Clerk of the Year” by the Arizona Municipal Clerks’ Association (AMCA).  The award recognizes an AMCA member who has made significant contributions to the municipal clerk profession.

“Brigitta is one of the best city clerks I’ve known in my 15 years as an elected official,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.  “She is constantly looking at ways to make her office the most efficient it can be.  The City of Tempe is lucky to have her.”

Tempe City Manager Andrew Ching described Brigitta as a “24 hour professional” and emphasized that “the level of professionalism that Brigitta and her staff exhibits is the sort of silent service that all too often goes unrecognized.”

Kuiper was hired as the Tempe city clerk in June 2010.  She was previously employed by the City of Yuma for 18 years – 12 years as its city clerk.  She is an active member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) and is past president of AMCA.  Kuiper holds a Master Municipal Clerk Certification through IIMC, and a Certified Public Manager designation from Arizona State University’s Public Manager Program. She is a graduate of Arizona State University. These accomplishments reflect her belief in advanced education and professional development through lifelong learning.

City of Tempe Helps Residents with Storm Damage


As monsoon season continues to hit the Valley and other parts of our state, many cities and towns are offering programs and services to residents to help them prepare, stay safe, and clean up any damage caused by the storms.

The storm that hit Monday evening, August 31, hit the City of Tempe and caused downed power lines, transformer fires and damage from fallen trees and flooding.


Tempe Center for the Arts

To help residents continuing to clean up from storm damage, the city is offering a special green organics collection beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8 to remove storm debris and fallen trees in the hardest hit areas.

If you are a resident of one of these hard-hit areas and would like to find out how to schedule your pickup, please click here

For more information on staying safe in monsoons or preparing for the next big storm, visit or your local city or town’s website.


Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge suffered damage during Monday evening’s storm. The bridge will be closed for several days for repair.

Teamwork & Technology for Emergency Response



When I started in this position as Gilbert’s Chief Digital Officer and first Communications Director three years ago, one of the first questions I asked was what the relationship was like with the Police and Fire departments’ Public Information Officers (PIO).  That question was met with silence.  Since my position hadn’t existed, there wasn’t a relationship, coordination or trust.  And it was my job to build it.

During the last three years of creating a department and assembling my team, I was also very focused on building relationships with our Police and Fire communications teams.  From social media strategy to shooting videos to planning emergency response roles during large events, we spent a great deal of time finding ways to coordinate our efforts.

And to do that, we had to understand each other.  A police perspective, on scene, is very focused on the investigation, while the Manager’s Office perspective is committed to getting information out quickly to the Mayor, Council members and the community.  And we all want to help the media to be sure they have the most current and accurate information so they can inform the public.

This week, we had an officer-involved shooting that resulted from a traffic stop.  At 9:41am, I received the dispatch alert on my phone and within minutes my Public Information Officer, Jennifer Alvarez, was in touch with the Police Department Public Information Officer and they were headed to the scene.  Once they were there, Jennifer would handle all of the social media coordination while Sargent Jesse Sanger, the Police PIO, could focus on getting the most recent details related to the investigation and set up a staging area for the media.

This all took place just yards away from an elementary school.  Immediately, the school was coordinating with our police department and placed the campus on lockdown.  We were able to share real-time updates through Twitter so that parents would know their kids were safe.  Some students were texting their parents and parents were asking questions on Twitter and we could answer them.


We were also encouraging all of our employees to follow us on Twitter where we were sharing road closure information and details related to the condition of both the officer and suspect involved.  We’ve made our Twitter feed available on the internal website for employees so they don’t have to sign up to see the latest information.

We manage more than 20 social media accounts for the Town so it was important that only one, consistent message was shared across all channels.  We used the Gilbert Police department’s Twitter handle as the primary source for information and then Retweeted the information from all of our other accounts.

One of the other most effective forms of communication during this incident was Periscope.  For those of you who don’t know what Periscope is, it’s owned by Twitter and is used to live stream video and allows you to interact with viewers while streaming.  And why would that be used in local government or during an emergency situation?  Because more than 10 million people have created Periscope accounts and almost two million are using the app every day.  It really is the best tool to take your viewers live to a scene before the 5 o’clock news is even in pre-production.  We were on the air and on the web before anyone else.  We were able to answer questions live from parents who had children to pick up from school and others who were just curious and looking for more information.

It is in these major incidents, although sometimes unfortunate, that we learn what works and what doesn’t.  All of the practice exercises in the world can’t truly prepare a team for what will happen when the sirens blare, the water main breaks or the streets flood.  And it’s the nontraditional methods of communicating that are helping to connect us to each other and our audiences.

Yesterday, as we debriefed the incident, Police Chief Tim Dorn, praised the efforts of the teams coming together; the relationship, the coordination and the trust.  And you can be a part of it.

Follow @GilbertYourTown on Twitter and Periscope and watch local government set a new standard for street journalism and reporting.

This article was written by Dana Berchman, Gilbert, Arizona’s Chief Digital Officer and Communications Director. Dana leads a digital team responsible for developing forward-thinking policies on social media, digital communications, web initiatives and other tools to better serve the public.  

Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord given the 2015 Community Leaders’ Art Award

mayor winning art one

Winning art: Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord being presented with the 2015 Community Leaders’ Art Award from WHAM Art Association President Connie Whitlock for her winning piece of art “Enlightenment” in the “Bout for the Arts” competition. The recent competition consisted of 65 community leaders from government, businesses and organizations. Art consisted of recycled items for the pieces submitted from April to the end of June. Mayor Lord used pieces of pages from National Geographic Magazine that uses a citric acid in its printing process. Mayor Lord’s work portrayed the progress of women through early centuries to present day. Here, Connie Whitlock is holding Mayor’s Lord’s “City with the Biggest HeArt” Award for Goodyear. Congratulations to Mayor Lord!

mayor winning art two



WHAM supports, advances, and promotes artistic awareness, participation, and expression in all areas of Visual Arts. It is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2006 by Connie Whitlock, a clay artist in her own right. Since then, the organization has grown to more than 150 artists that work in many different mediums. WHAM members work in various materials ranging from paint, clay, glass, concrete, paper, and much more!