Blog Posts Tagged ‘community-services’

Avondale employee honored by Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence

From City of Avondale 
Ingrid Melle, Avondale AZ PIO 
Chris Lopez, City of Avondale Youth and Community Engagement Supervisor

Chris Lopez, City of Avondale Youth and Community Engagement Supervisor

Chris Lopez, Youth and Community Engagement Supervisor for the City of Avondale, received the Melanie McClintock Leadership Award this past weekend at the annual conference for the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence.
The Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence (AzCASE) annually recognizes innovative out-of-school time programs and staff members for their exemplary work in providing and promoting quality youth development programs for Arizona’s children. AzCASE held its 15th  Annual Conference at the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix, where Chris Lopez was awarded the Excellence in Leadership award on Saturday, October 22.
Lopez, hired in 2007 to establish youth development programs for the city, has worked tirelessly to provide Avondale youth with a variety of enriching programs and opportunities.  He has also served on the Arizona Quality Standards for Out of School Time Programs Statewide Quality Assessment committee, and on multiple youth development committees including the United Way. Chris introduced the ‘Kids at Hope’ philosophy to the city and paved the way for Avondale to become the first official ‘Kids at Hope’ city in the nation.  As a result, staff from various school districts, local government and community leaders have been trained in and have adopted the Kids at Hope belief and support system that all children are capable of success, no exceptions.  Chris Lopez was also instrumental in fostering relationships with AmeriCorps VISTA, as well as expanding youth workforce development and teen leadership opportunities in Avondale. 
The Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence (AzCASE) is Arizona’s leading statewide advocate and information resource for promoting high quality, affordable and accessible out-of-school time programs as an essential component in the positive development of Arizona’s youth.  

National Magazine Ranks Glendale As “Top Dog” in Southwest for Canine-Friendly Communities


Dog Fancy Cover

Dog Fancy Cover


Dog Fancy Article

Dog Fancy Article

Dog Fancy Magazine named the city of Glendale regional runner-up in the Southwest in its 2013 DogTown USA ranking. With a dog population of 43,000, the city prides itself on offering dog-friendly businesses, attractions and amenities.

The article highlights Glendale’s four-legged community features such as two special dog parks that offer agility equipment;  an annual Dog Days of Summer event, sponsored by the Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau and downtown merchants; dining experiences for pet owners at various restaurants with patio seating and city dogs who work for various programs in the community. For example, the Glendale Library has a reading dog program, called Read with Jessie, the loveable Golden Retriever, at Foothills Library in which children can practice reading to a dog, helping them become more comfortable reading. The next sessions are Sept. 11 and Sept. 25 for children 5 years and older. To reserve a spot, call 623.930.3837.

The Glendale Fire Department has two working dogs; Gizzi accompanies Fire’s public education manager to schools to teach children fire safety measures, and Topaz serves as a crisis response dog, helping those impacted by traumatic situations. In addition, Glendale Fire carries special FIDO pet rescue bags, supported by community donations. The FIDO bag, created by a Glendale firefighter, are medical bags containing customized oxygen masks and other medical supplies specifically made to care for animals in emergency situations. The bags were placed on Glendale fire trucks in 2007 after the Sun Valley Animal Shelter made a generous donation of $4,000 to fund the FIDO bag program.  Glendale firefighters, having saved numerous animals using the FIDO bag equipment, believe the bags are a necessity since 70% of households have pets.

Projects and activities for local dogs are not the only reason that Glendale was selected by the magazine, as part of the process included evaluating whether Glendale serves as an optimal pet destination.

Approximately 58 percent of pet owners now travel with their pets, and dogs lead the pack as the most popular pet travel companion, according to

“This information reflects an emerging travel trend, showing the importance of outreaching to visitors who travel with their favorite canine companion. For example, 78 percent of pet owners choose a hotel due to its pet-friendly policies and the Glendale CVB offers a list of pet-friendly hotels in the area,” said Lorraine Pino, Glendale CVB manager.

Recreation Division’s Customer Service Coordinator Helps Keeps Residents Active, Happy



By Donyelle Kesler, Digital Information Specialist

When Recreation Division’s Customer Service Coordinator Marianne Fulton isn’t at her desk at the Queen Creek Library Recreation Annex entrance, the children attending pre-school, sports and recreation classes take notice.

“’Where’s Ms. Marianne?’ the kids will all ask,” Recreation Technician Rachel Thornton said. “They miss her if she’s not there to greet them.”

Despite having numerous responsibilities including handling class registration, answering phones, assisting with special events and other administrative responsibilities, Fulton has built a close rapport with all Recreation Annex visitors. “That’s my favorite part,” Fulton said. “I enjoy welcoming our students and families and getting to know everyone. I’ve always been in customer service and always try to ensure that people have a positive experience with us.”

A Queen Creek resident for the last 13 years, Fulton’s service has gone beyond recreation customers, she also works closely with class instructors to solve issues, helps schedule their classes and offers support. Her hard work also helps recreation’s major, annual events, like Trunk or Treat and Passport to Discovery, run smoothly.

Fulton says that the family-oriented, community feel of Queen Creek is what she and the recreation staff emulate through their services.

“The activities offered through our division are important for Queen Creek families,” Fulton said. “Recreation provides opportunities for children to learn build self-esteem and create life-long healthy habits. I also always encourage adults to take time for themselves and take the adult classes we offer, too. We like to see the successes that come from the programs we offer.”

“Our Recreation Division strives to provide the community with the highest quality recreational activities by promoting social interactions through safe, fun and affordable special interest classes and events,” Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney said. “Marianne and the entire recreation staff deliver exceptional services to support the health and happiness of our residents. The environment they have created, has continuously kept residents active in the services offered through the Town’s recreation program.”

Valley Metro and Valley Metro Rail Transit Boards Elect New Officers

The Valley Metro and Valley Metro Rail transit boards have chosen new officers for fiscal-year 2013-14.

The regional public transportation authority for Phoenix, Valley Metro elected as its board chairman Scott Somers, who is a Council member for Mesa, AZ. Also elected were Chandler Council Member Trinity Donovan as vice chairman and Avondale Council Member Jim McDonald as treasurer.

Valley Metro Rail, which operates, maintains and expands the light-rail system in the greater Phoenix area, has elected Shana Ellis chairman and Dennis Kavanaugh, vice chairman. Shana Ellis serves on the Tempe Council and Kavanaugh, on the Mesa Council.

Read more about The Valley Metro and Valley Metro Rail transit’s new officers here:



AZCities@Work on AZTV’s Morning Scramble

How does your city help you? Watch The League of Arizona Cities and Town’s Communication and Education Director, Matt Lore, talk about the many different services and programs that are  available through your city.

Casa Grande Launches New Website

The city of Casa Grande launched a new website. The new site offers visitors an easier way of accessing information. Read below to find more information about the websites highlights and features. Your frequently searched items are now just a click or two away!



Queen Creek Customer Service Coordinator Ensures Residents Receive Quality Service and Support

By Donyelle Kesler, Digital Information Specialist

Walking into the Queen Creek town hall municipal services building, the first person likely to greet you is Customer Service Coordinator Margie Payton.

Payton, who worked with the Queen Creek Water Company before joining the town five years ago, knows all about water services in Queen Creek and how to ensure residents receive excellent customer service.

“I really enjoy interacting with residents, seeing them in our lobby, talking to them on the phone, I just really love that part of my job,” Payton said. “I feel every person should be helped in the same manner. No matter how important the issue, how big or small the problem is, all of the calls that come through are important,” Payton said.

Payton works along with Customer Service Representative Lacy Heiney and Administrative Assistant Elizabeth Martin to handle customer payments, water service connections and disconnections, work with builders and utility field staff on work orders and hydrant meter information and placement, and answer all incoming telephone calls for the entire municipal service building.

“We all complement each other,” Payton said. “We all know what we needs to get done and what we need to do individually and that makes us a great team.”

“Margie does an exceptional job serving our residents,” Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney said. “She is sensitive to issues they may be undergoing and ensures that every interaction residents have with the town regarding services is a positive experience.”

Payton recently took part in and graduated from the Queen Creek Citizen Leadership Institute. She said that the Institute was something she wanted to take part in to become even more connected to the town’s inner workings.

“I loved being a part of the Institute,” Payton said. “I enjoyed being able to see what town staff does and see and experience things I hadn’t even realized in my five years were here. It was great to see that my fellow citizens enjoyed it just as much as I did.”

Payton considers herself a Queen Creek native. Her family moved to the community from Wyoming when she was 14 years old, and Payton notes the tremendous growth she’s seen in the community from street signals to new businesses. But she says despite that growth, the small-town feel and sense of community has not changed.

“When you go to the post office everyone is so nice, you know your neighbors, it’s a fun-loving community,” Payton said. “My favorite part of my job is when people come into the office when I’m working just to say hello. When people come in and say ‘I could have put this in the drop box but I wanted to say hi,’ I love that aspect of my job.”


Queen Creek Customer Service Coordinator, Margie Payton works to ensure that town residents receive exceptional customer service and support.

East Valley Cities Tap into Mobile Market with Apps

East Valley cities are using technology to their advantage. Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, Queen Creek offer apps that are aimed towards public safety, things to do and city services. Check out this article to learn what apps are available and how they can benefit you!



Festivals That Make Bullhead City Unique

By Steve Johnson, Public Information Officer, Bullhead City

The biggest festival in Bullhead City for the past seven years is the River Regatta in August, a nine-mile float down the Colorado River. It began in 2007 when about 900 people on inner tubes and rafts set off from Community Park and floated down to Rotary Park. In 2012, 27,000 people joined the Bullhead City Regatta!

The event requires a lot of support from the city, community and businesses. Local department stores, sporting goods stores, even hardware stores– that might not otherwise carry watercraft — offer tubes, rafts and life-jackets for this annual festival on the water.

Competition: teams, inspired by a different theme each year, create floats as wild as their imagination and as big as a bundle of inner tubes or Styrofoam will take them, compete for cash prizes and trophies. Over the years, the Colorado River has carried grass huts, birthday cakes, huge floating alligators, even pirate ships along its cool, rippling currents under the August desert sun.

Riverside residents are also encouraged to compete by decorating their homes and cheering on the floaters, many of whom are visitors from around the country.

Bullhead City River Regatta participants fill hotels, restaurants and stores, infusing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy during the weekend event.


Regatta revelers hold parties and cheer on floaters


Thousands prepare to launch from Community Park


Looking For Ways to Expand Transparency

By Jeff Weninger, Chandler City Council Member

The city of Chandler’s website recently received high honors from the Sunshine Review, a nonprofit organization whose mission surrounds transparency in local and state government. Of the 6,000-plus government websites that were ranked, Chandler was one of only 214 municipalities to receive the coveted A+ ranking (and for the 3rd year in a row).

As part of the ranking, Sunshine Review looks at a number of transparency criteria including information about budgets, public records, taxes, contracts, and public meetings. Since joining the City Council several years ago it has been my goal to maintain and strengthen transparency in government. I believe that our residents should be kept fully informed about decisions being made on their behalf. Fortunately, the city subscribes to the same philosophy.

In an effort to continue to improve, I asked staff to draft procedures to allow for more transparency and look for ways to expand the delivery of information pertaining to fees and other charges imposed by the city. Currently, when there is a proposal to revise a fee or charge associated with licenses, permits, or other items, it is required that a meeting notice be posted at least 24 hours in advance to meet the Arizona Open Meeting Law. However, this does not allow for much public comment. I would like to see that change.

I am proposing a city code amendment regarding the public notification process for setting fees and charges. Currently, certain charges are required to be posted on the city’s website and published in the newspaper, while others are not. It is my recommendation that the city includes other fees and additionally, uses social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to help communicate any proposed changes.

In today’s world, information is readily available through these types of mediums and I think that we should utilize them to enhance our transparency and keep the public apprised of city business that could potentially impact their lives. During a recent subcommittee meeting, several council members met with staff to discuss this issue further and look for other ways to improve our communication with the community.

We discussed expanded notice to the public through our website and social media, in some cases providing up to 60 days advance notice. These proposed changes could result in a greater opportunity to receive public comment on the issues at hand. It was a very productive dialogue.

This proposal will be brought forward at a future council meeting for a vote. But regardless of what happens next, city staff is committed to making it easier for the public to locate information. They will continue to modify the city’s website to make information easily accessible from the home page. And, as information pertaining to changes in fees comes available they also plan to post those updates online. Additionally, they will incorporate other fees that were not previously published and place the fee schedule where it is simpler to find. Essentially, these changes will create a one-stop shop for those seeking this information.

As a result of this discussion one thing is clear; when we provide more information than what is required by law it demonstrates the true spirit of transparency. And that will earn us many more A+ ratings down the road.