Blog Posts Tagged ‘local-government’

Arizona Cities and Towns Week

It’s Arizona Cities and Towns Week! Help us celebrate!

Arizona Cities and Towns Week is set aside each year to recognize the services cities and towns provide, as well as honor those elected officials, staff and volunteers who serve in municipal government. This is the 16th Annual Arizona Cities and Towns Week.

We are excited to have so many of our Arizona cities and towns participating this year, including: Chino Valley, Florence, Gilbert, Litchfield Park, Peoria, Sierra Vista, Surprise, Tempe and many others!

Find out how your city or town is celebrating and participate in Arizona Cities & Towns Week by using the hashtag #AZCityWeek on social media.

Lake Havasu City Top Finisher in America’s Best Communities

Congratulations to Lake Havasu City!

The city was one of the top finishers in the national America’s Best Communities event last night!

Lake Havasu City received a $2 million prize as coming in second in the competition. The prize money will help the city accomplish its goals of implementing its Vision 20/20 plan.

America’s Best Communities began in 2014 to spur economic development in small  towns throughout the country. It challenged local communities to submit ideas and proposals for bettering their communities. Winners would receive prize money and grant funding to help execute their plans. 

Lake Havasu City entered the competition submitting their Vision 20/20 Plan, which included five pillars: economic development and job creation, education and workforce talent, tourism and place development, water preservation and management, and community engagement.

The city was first selected from more than 350 entrants to compete in the quarterfinals among 49 other communities. They then advanced to the second round of 15 competing communities back in January.

Huntington, West Virginia took home the top prize last night. Lake Havasu City came in second place Statesboro, Georgia was third place as the top finishers.

For more information on the America’s Best Communities competition and the Lake Havasu City Vision 20/20 plan, click here:

City of Phoenix Celebrate People @ Work

In honor of Arizona Cities & Towns Week, we’re recognizing the men and women who make Arizona’s cities and towns work! These are the people who work tirelessly to ensure that stoplights keep blinking, water keeps running, trash is picked up, libraries stay open, parks stay clean and services are provided to residents and visitors all hours of every day.

Among the many men and women who make the City of Phoenix a great place to live, work, play and visit, there are seven exceptional individuals we’re highlighting this week.

Cathy Chapman, Senior Engineering Technician, Planning & Development Department: Cathy joined the City of Phoenix 22 years ago. She has spent her entire time with the Planning & Development department, starting as a customer service clerk.

John Tomazin, Firefighter and Paramedic: John was hired as a firefighter recruit in 1997, leading to 19 years of working on fire trucks across the city of Phoenix. He now works as a program manager for EMS, supporting paramedics and EMTs to have the best tools and technology.

Marilyn Barr, Facility Contract Compliance Specialist, Public Transit Department: Not only does Marilyn ride the bus to and from work, she rides it 20 times a month as part of her job. While riding, she looks for missing signs, broken marquees and even makes sure drivers are wearing their seat belts.

Ashley Hare, Arts Learning Director, Phoenix Office of Arts & Culture: Ashley helps decide how public funding is used for various arts and cultural events around the city. She works with more than 160 local groups, the state arts commission and schools on various projects.

Rob Ostos, Senior Utility Technician, Water Services Department: An employee with the City of Phoenix since 2002, Rob builds, maintains and repairs all things involved with the city’s sanitary sewer systems. He operates a variety of equipment for work including dump trucks, front loaders and rodders.

Fernando Felix, Neighborhood Specialist, Neighborhood Services Department: Felix has been with the City of Phoenix for nearly two decades and serves as the liaison between the neighborhoods, community groups, nonprofits, residents and the city.


Town of Clarkdale Receives Award for Program Excellence


The Town of Clarkdale was among 10 local governments who have been recognized for their outstanding programmatic contributions to local government by ICMA, the International City/County Management Association. ICMA’s 2016 Annual Awards Program recipients will be officially honored at a Celebration of Service to the Profession, as part of the organization’s 102nd Annual Conference on September 28, 2016.   The Town of Clarkdale’s award will be officially presented to the Clarkdale Town Council during their meeting on Tuesday, October11, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.

The Town of Clarkdale received a Program Excellence Award in the Community Sustainability category for the demonstration of water sustainability in their Centennial Plaza project.  The award recognizes innovative local government programs or processes that creatively balance a community’s social, economic, environmental, and cultural needs.

According to Town Manager Gayle Mabery, “The Town of Clarkdale is very honored to receive this prestigious award from the International City/County Management Association.  This an award our whole community should celebrate!  Our Town Council set a vision for a sustainable community, our citizen’s endorsed that vision through the adoption of the Town’s 2012 General Plan, and our staff worked hard at every stage of this project: planning, construction, implementation and maintenance … to achieve not only an award-worthy result for Clarkdale, but a project that is a true demonstration of sustainability for our community.”

The ICMA Local Government Excellence Awards Program highlights creative contributions to professional local government management while demonstrating the difference that this kind of management makes to the quality of life in our communities. ICMA’s Program Excellence Awards are presented to local governments, their chief administrators, and others within the 10,000+ member organization in recognition of their innovative and successful programs.  This year, an independent, 21-member evaluation panel reviewed the eligible nominations.

“We congratulate the recipients of our 2016 Program Excellence Awards and the administrators and managers who lead them,” says ICMA Executive Director Bob O’Neill. “The communities and men and women recognized this year set the standard for innovation, effectiveness, and creativity. We thank them for their commitment to improving the lives of the constituents they serve every day.”

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.

City of Sierra Vista Wins Back-to-Back Awards

Good Neighbor Alliance recently recognized its longstanding partnership with the City of Sierra Vista in serving the local homeless population by honoring the city with this year’s Good Neighbor Award.

Through the allocation of Community Development Block Grant dollars, the City of Sierra Vista helped Good Neighbor Alliance get on its feet back in 2003 and has funded significant improvements since then. These include a CDBG funded infrastructure project to change access to the facility last year, which improved safety for families and children served by the shelter.

The city’s support extends beyond allocating grant dollars for projects, though the shelter covers its own operating costs. In March, Good Neighbor Alliance celebrated the completion of a new laundry room, including a new washer and dryer that were purchased through donations raised by the Sierra Vista Police Department and Sierra Vista Fire & Medical Services. The city also waived fees associated with the addition.

“The city and Good Neighbor Alliance partner on all things homeless and we wanted to acknowledge the city’s invaluable support over the years,” says Kathy Calabrese, executive director of Good Neighbor Alliance. The shelter established the Good Neighbor Award last year and the city is the second recipient.

“Good Neighbor Alliance, along with the Fry Task Force, kickstarted the redevelopment of the Fry area,” Sierra Vista Mayor Rick Mueller says. ”Good Neighbor Alliance, partnering with the City, county, and the Industrial Development Authority, is not only responsible for helping our homeless neighbors in need, but has transformed Fry and North Seventh Street. Our citizens should be justifiably proud of this effort.”

The City was also recognized by the Association of Defense Communities to receive this year’s Community Excellence Award in recognition of its outstanding support and partnership with Fort Huachuca.

“It is an honor to see the longstanding and ongoing collaboration between the City of Sierra and Fort Huachuca recognized on the national stage,” Sierra Vista Mayor Rick Mueller says. “This close relationship has resulted in innovative partnerships at the airport, in our library, with other municipal services, and in efforts to conserve and recharge our local water supply. The fort remains an integral part of our community.”

Find out more about the City of Sierra Vista and all the great things they’re accomplishing! 

35 Years in the Making – Parks Director Jeff Bell Leaves Legacy

Parks and Recreation Director
City of Apache Junction


There wasn’t a blade of grass in the name of Apache Junction Parks and Recreation, let alone a ball court or a piece of playground equipment. The city itself was still in its infancy – just a few employees, some trailers that doubled as offices and a used dump truck.

That is what Jeff Bell walked into at age 23. Three and a-half decades later, he can look back at having developed more than 2,000 acres of park and open space in a thriving operation that employs more than 100 full and part-time staff, has hundreds of volunteers and serves a community of tens of thousands, winning accolades from peers and citizens alike over the timespan.

The first Parks and Recreation director in city history retired earlier this year after 35 years of building a department from scratch.

“Jeff started with nothing and ended up with beautiful parks, a sparkling Multigenerational Center, and a tremendous staff to boot,” said Apache Junction Mayor John Insalaco. “It is nothing short of miraculous to see what Jeff has done since arriving in 1980.”

That year, a few weeks before Ronald Reagan would be elected president, Bell took the position of “community services coordinator” since there wasn’t a Parks department yet. Ground had just been broken on ball fields and tennis courts near Apache Junction High School. Bell began his job working with the school district to develop agreements for joint use facilities. That led to many projects, including the aquatic center at what has become Superstition Shadows Park.

Of course, Bell was destined for a career in recreation. Growing up in Casa Grande, he started volunteering with that city’s parks department before he was a teen-ager. He worked there through his school years and even after he went to Arizona State University, where he earned a degree in recreation management.

“For several years in our organization, Jeff was known as ‘Senor SOAR’ (Service Over and Above the Rest),” city manager Bryant Powell noted. “Jeff was our senior staff lead on this work. He embodied the idea. This was a several year assignment where Jeff took on extra duties to provide expertise to many city teams, helping them review and implement city staff customer service and process improvement projects.”

It started with Veterans Memorial Park on the city hall complex and now encompasses a system of parks, facilities and awards that rival any city. Bell oversaw the first programs, including a senior softball league that began right after he started to the comprehensive offerings of today. It was under Bell’s vision and leadership that Prospector Park was developed and, of course, the Multigenerational Center.

“Two things stick with me about Jeff,” said Klindt Breckenridge, president of Breckenridge Group, which designed the Multigenerational Center. “In designing the facility, Jeff brought up the idea of ‘connections’ – more than physical connections; but how the center would connect with all members of the Apache Junction community, seniors; young families; millennials; longtime residents and newcomers; fitness fans and leisure pursuits  – making the Multigenerational Center a welcoming place for everyone.”

Recreation Management magazine selected the center for its Innovative Architecture and Design Award in 2006 and Athletic Business subsequently featured the project in its publication.

But the list goes on – the Little League Park, Superstition Shadows Park and Aquatics Center which includes the skate park, Silly Mountain Park, and the Focal Point, all came to be over his time. Remarkably, Bell worked with the school district and the federal Bureau of Land Management to acquire the trails and open space, some of which became developed parks.

The agreement with the Bureau of Land Management led to what is now Prospector Park and the Rodeo Grounds, the Sheep Drive Trail (city multi-use trail) which extends for more than eight miles as well as the trails up Silly Mountain. The last 35 years also have included community partners, like the Superstition Area Land Trust and the Association for the Development of a Better Environment.

Acknowledgements abound over the years, from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association and others. In 2004, the state association named Superstition Shadows Park the “Outstanding Facility for a community with a population under 60,000,” and the Arizona Department of Commerce and the Governor’s Office gave Parks an award for “Excellence in Rural Development” for Superstition Shadows Park.

In 2008, the Phoenix New Times honored Lost Dutchman Days with their award for “Best Place to See a Homegrown Rodeo.”

Bell also built a staff that is the envy of the region. Many have been acknowledged by the city and the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association. One of his protégés, Liz Langenbach, became the second Parks director in city history after Bell’s retirement.

Bell’s efforts continued right up to early this year in initial plans for the first downtown park, off North Apache Trail. The grass hasn’t even been planted yet – much like how Bell arrived in Apache Junction more than 35 years ago.

Municipal Clerks Week

This week is the 47th Annual Municipal Clerks Week!

Municipal Clerks Week is a week-long event aimed at increasing the public’s awareness of municipal clerks and the vital services they provide for local government and the community.

City or town clerks have a variety of functions, including preparing agendas, taking minutes, maintaining ordinance and resolution files, keeping the city or town’s historical records, and processing permits. In addition to keeping records and maintaining the city’s documents, a clerk is responsible for administering local elections.

Municipal and Deputy Clerks’ main function is to serve as the council’s foundation. Other duties include, but are not limited to, preparing agendas, taking minutes, maintaining ordinance and resolutions files, keeping the municipality’s historical records, processing permits and serving as the clearinghouse for information about the local government. They also record the actions of the various commissions and committees appointed by the council. Many serve as financial officers or treasurers, and in small municipalities, may act as chief administrative officers. Another important responsibility is administering part or all of the local election functions.

Thank you, Arizona city and town clerks, for all that you do. You are some of the many reasons why Arizona Cities and Towns work!

Tempe Public Library Switching to Solar

Tempe_Pub_Library_SOLAR_001Tempe’s library complex is soaking up the sun with the completion of a new solar installation that will provide 35 percent of the complex’s power needs. To celebrate this renewable energy milestone, the  Mayor Mark Mitchell and several councilmembers will be “flipping of the switch” as power is moved to the solar grid on Saturday, April 30.

“This is exactly the type of project that makes Tempe great,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. “We have improved our library for the hundreds of thousands of visitors each year by providing much-needed covered parking and a wonderful shaded outdoor gathering place for neighborhood events while saving money and reducing pollution with clean energy.”

Project features

  • Five solar carport canopies that will provide 262 shaded parking spaces for patrons
  • Large, north side canopy can be used for shaded  parking or as a community gathering space for festivals, events,  farmers markets and food trucks
  • 486 solar panels on top of the library building
  • Savings of more than $95,000 in utility costs over 20 years
  • Five shaded wheelchair accessible parking spaces near the library entrance
  • Increases the city’s renewable energy use from 3 percent to 5 percent
  • Panels will produce 1.3 million kWh of energy, which is equivalent to reducing carbon emissions by more than 900 metric tons and taking 190 vehicles off the road each year.

Tempe’s renewable energy commitment

In June 2014, the City approved a goal to power 20 percent of city operations with clean energy by 2025. This goal is an important component of Tempe’s long-term asset management strategy to reduce the city’s overall energy use and utility costs. The city is currently at 3 percent, marking significant progress since the goal was adopted. The addition of the library complex project will bring the city to 5 percent. Tempe’s existing solar projects include:

  • 263 kW system at the Police/Courts building in downtown Tempe. The system provides 12 percent of the building’s power needs and has saved the city $14,000 in just four months.
  • 924 kW system at its South Water Treatment Plant that produces 15% of the plant’s energy and will save $2.3 million in 20 years

Upcoming projects include a 900 kW system at the Johnny G Martinez (JGM) Water Treatment Plant. For more information, visit

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.