Blog Posts Tagged ‘municipal’

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.

Arizona City and Town Police Officers Honored

Congratulations to Arizona city and town police officers on commendable efforts that were recently recognized!

Officer Wes Kelley of Apache Junction Police Department (Photo Courtesy of City of Apache Junction)

Apache Junction Police Department Officer Wesley Kelley was recently named the Officer of the Year by the local American Legion.

Kelley was given the honor on April 9 by American Legion Post 27.

American Legion posts nationwide name officers of the year. The American Legion then annually selects a National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award. It is awarded to a well-rounded law enforcement officer who has exceeded the duty requirements expected of his or her position and has demonstrated a distinct pattern of community service coupled with professional achievement, according to the American Legion website.

“It is always an honor to have one of our officers recognized by one of armed service organizations,” said Police Chief Thomas E. Kelly. “It is especially humbling as these are the same people that have previously placed themselves in harm’s way in defending our country.  Officer Kelley is one of those officers that requires minimum supervision and is respected by his peers. He presents himself well and treats all with dignity and respect as stated in the Apache Junction Police Department’s mission statement. Very proud of the recognition.”

Prescott Valley Police Department Officer of the Year Cozens (Photo Courtesy of Town of Prescott Valley)

The Prescott Valley Police Department also held its annual police recognition awards. The Officer of the Year was announced as Officer Caleb Cozens.

Officer Cozens started his career with the Prescott Valley Police Department in June 2015, laterally transferring from Chino Valley.  He demonstrates a positive, upbeat attitude and is known for his professionalism, representing the Prescott Valley Police Department and the Town of Prescott Valley with pride.

A team player, Officer Cozens consistently produces a high quality of work, especially in the handling of drug investigations. He is a leader within the department in drug arrests and is always willing to take on extra work. Over the last year Officer Cozens has written 83 citations/warnings, written 262 reports and supplements, and made 131 arrests.

The Town of Prescott Valley also honored other officers with awards:

Prescott Valley Police Department Rookie of the Year Officer Loughmiller (Photo Courtesy of Town of Prescott Valley)


2016 Rookie of the Year – Cameron Loughmiller

2016 Community Policing Ribbon – Officer Tyler Brown

2016 Unit of the Year – Community Services Unit

2016 Civilian of the Year – Jerry Ferguson

2016 Volunteer of the Year – Dave Demski




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.


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.

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.