August 2016 Highlights

In August, the city council adopted the Southwest Area Plan Update, and also updated our economic incentives deal with Caterpillar.  First, let me note the sanitation collections schedule changes associated with the Labor Day holiday.

 

Labor Day week collections changes:     For the week of Labor Day (September 5), please note the following about city sanitation collection schedules:
--Garbage collection will follow its normal schedule.
--Recycling collections (blue week) will be delayed by one day.  (Most of the Southwest Ward is on the red week schedule, which does not take place next week and so will not be affected.)
--Yard waste carts collection will be delayed one day (usual Monday routes collected on Tuesday, Tuesday routes on Wednesday, etc.).

 

Southwest Area Plan Update adopted:     The Southwest Area Plan Update was adopted by the city council on August 1.  Small area plans are city planning documents used for non-binding guidance to city boards and departments in making zoning and infrastructure planning decisions.  This small area plan includes the Ardmore and Hanestown neighborhoods, both hospital complexes, and adjacent commercial areas including Thruway.  Public input was collected at a series of briefing and comment meetings, and the update reflected that public input.  The final plan update can be seen here:  http://www.cityofws.org/Departments/Planning/Area-Plans/Southwest 

 

Caterpillar economic incentives plan updated:     Since the Winston-Salem manufacturing plant for Caterpillar opened in 2011, we’ve experienced a dramatic shake-up in the global economy.  The resulting shifts impacted the mining sector, including national markets like China, which has been a major customer for the mining equipment built in part at the Winston-Salem Caterpillar plant.  The results included a sustained slowdown in production and a drop in employment totals at the plant here.
     The good news is that the plant here has remained open, even while some other facilities around the nation have closed.  In addition, the plant here has continued to provide almost 200 direct employment jobs and (over the course of the past five years) a net total of more than $3.1 million in city property taxes (over and beyond the incentives payments). 
     Now, Caterpillar and the City of Winston-Salem have agreed on an update to the economic incentives deal that will help to facilitate the continued operation of its Winston-Salem plant for more years to come.  On the city’s side, the change permits a temporary drop in the employment totals at the plant, from 198 minimum to 100 minimum, without triggering the termination (and “clawback” of incentives) provisions of the agreement.  That lower threshold is needed to enable Caterpillar’s plan to diversify the plant’s facilities from a single-purpose production line (axels for large mining equipment) to a broader base.  The broader base is anticipated to include operations of Caterpillar’s wholly-owned subsidiary company, Progress Rail.  (They manufacture and maintain items like rail cars, which should provide a broader and thus more stable production base.)  The drop in job totals is not expected to continue over the long term, but is likely during the transition period.  As before, the city will only pay out in incentives an amount based on a percentage of what the plant pays in the year before in property taxes and job totals.  This is a win-win for the city, the company, and workers at the plant.

 

National Night Out successful:     The annual evening event celebrating the partnership of police departments and neighborhood groups in promoting community safety gathered broad support again this year.  I was delighted to attend the citywide opening ceremony, as well as Southwest Ward neighborhood events at Healy Towers, Seasons Chase, Harwick-Bridgeport, Ardmore Terrace/Cloverdale, and Sandersted.

 

‘Black & Blue’ Community-Police Town Hall:     I was also pleased to participate in the Winston-Salem Urban League’s discussion forum titled ‘Black & Blue Community-Police Town Hall’, on August 18.  This constructive event featured conversation on contemporary issues and tensions affecting police-community relations, especially communities of color.  Participating organizations included the Winston-Salem Police Department, N.A.A.C.P., United Way of Forsyth County, Black Chamber of Commerce, Winston-Salem Foundation, Institute for Dismantling Racism, and Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.  For details about this continuing community conversation effort, see http://www.wsurban.org/community-partners-host-community-police-town-hall-series/.

 

Stronger sanitation standards for multi-family complex trash collection:     The city council on August 15 approved a city ordinance change to explicitly require that all multi-family housing complexes provide dumpster collection at least weekly (more often if needed to avoid unsanitary conditions).  If city inspectors observe an accumulation of trash outside a dumpster, the city can provide a four-hour cleanup notice to the owners/managers.  If the problem is not remedied within that time, the city can collect the trash and charge the owner.  This change was made in response to persistent tenant-reported problems at some complexes.  (Details of the ordinance are in Winston-Salem Municipal Code Sec. 26-3.)

 

Making tracks!     In August, the city made progress on restoring (and ultimately improving) our public park tracks for runners and walkers.  First, the complete resurfacing of the Hanes Park track is nearing completion.  It should be ready for use again in September.  Second, the city council approved issuing a contract for the design of the Happy Hill Park Renovation Project, which is to include a new eight-lane public track.  Both projects are part of the continuing work implementing city parks and recreation projects authorized by the 2014 bond referendum.

You can check on the progress of any 2014 bond project here:  http://www.cityofws.org/2014bonds 

 

Olympic champion Kathleen Baker returns to Winston-Salem:    The mayor and city council were proud to welcome American Olympic champion swimmer Kathleen Baker back to her home town on August 20.  Hundreds of young swimmers, fans, and their families were on hand to see the “key to the city” award and meet their heroine, who won an individual silver and team goal for the United States at the Rio Olympics.  Congrats and thanks, Ms. Baker!

 

Upcoming September events:     Plan now to enjoy some of the great events taking place in Winston-Salem this coming month.
--International Festival:   On Saturday, Sept. 10, from noon to 8 p.m., the Winston-Salem Human Relations Commission will hold its annual International Village Food and Music Festival in Corpening Plaza.  Cultures from around the world will be showcased.  There is no admissions charge.  The festival will be preceded by a special naturalization ceremony for new citizens at 11 a.m.
--Edible Landscaping Seminar:   The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Community Appearance Commission and the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension Service are co-sponsoring a free Edible Landscaping Seminar on Monday, September 12, at noon at the Extension office, 1450 Fairchild Road.  To register, RSVP to Amy Crum, amyc@cityofws.org by September 8. 
--Texas Pete Culinary Arts Festival:   This hot event (heh heh) will be held the weekend of September 17-18 on Trade and 6th streets downtown.
--Fiesta:   On Saturday, September 24, the Triad Hispanic League will hold its annual Fiesta in downtown Winston-Salem from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The city is a co-sponsor of this free event.

 

That’s my report for August.  As always, you are welcome to email me at danbesse@danbesse.org with comments or questions.  Thanks.