November 2017 Highlights

Business 40 renovation work is underway.  Here’s how to keep up with the latest traffic changes.

Business 40 renovation work:     The overhaul of Business 40 through central Winston-Salem will continue through December with all-day lane closures associated with reconstruction of the Peters Creek Parkway interchange.  The all-day lane closures are expected to finish by January 11, but work around that interchange will continue until fall 2018.  (After that, we’ll move into the expected 20-month closure of Business 40.)  To see the entire schedule for the Business 40 renovation work, and to check for the latest updates on lane closures, go here:  http://www.business40nc.com/en-us/pages/Home.aspx

If you have questions after you’ve reviewed that site, I recommend that you first try taking those straight to the source (the NC Dept. of Transportation teams responsible for the project) with this contact info:  http://business40nc.com/en-us/pages/Contact.aspx 

Infrastructure projects update:     We made progress in November on at least two other transportation projects in the Southwest Ward. 

--At our November 20 meeting, the city council approved property acquisition for a new section of sidewalk on the east side of Miller Street, between Cloverdale Avenue and Five Points.  That project is intended to boost the safety of pedestrians going to the shopping and medical offices on that long block.

--We also approved a resolution in support of state funding for a roundabout to deal with traffic delays at the intersection of W. Clemmonsville Road and Griffith Road.  The state Dept. of Transportation tells us that with this local endorsement, that project is likely to make their near-term project list. 

“Ban the box” resolution:     The “box” in question here is what many employers use on job application forms, to screen out from further consideration any applicant who has to check ‘yes’ that they’ve been convicted of a crime.  (Details will vary from workplace to workplace.)  Unfortunately, using this pre-screening exclusion guarantees that many people seeking honest employment to support themselves and their families will never get the chance to be considered on their individual merits.  That includes people who have made a mistake, paid for it, and are trying to go straight for good.  Indefinitely denying job chances to former offenders hurts them, their families, and the community as a whole.  (If a person can’t get honest work, where do we think they’ll go?  Back to what got them in trouble the first time is a strong possibility.)

Winston-Salem city government has already banned its own use of that pre-screening “box”.  Applicants are judged on their individual merits and qualifications, including but not limited to their personal history as it may be relevant to a particular position.  Plus, we have a program that works to match qualifying ex-offenders with appropriate probationary employment with the city.

The resolution approved by the city council on November 20 supports further efforts to assist former offenders find employment, including encouraging private employers in our community to undertake similar efforts.  We’re pleased that major private institutions in our community—including the Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League—also support these efforts.  

Police and Fire toy drive:     Winston-Salem’s Police and Fire departments are working to collect holiday toy gift donations for the children of families in need in our community.  The collection will take place December 4-8, 10 a.m.—2 p.m., at the Walmarts on Hanes Mill Road and Peters Creek Parkway.  See the details about how you can participate here:  http://www.cityofws.org/News/ID/20494/Police-and-Fire-Departments-Holding-Holiday-Toy-Drive

  

South Suburban Area Plan update approved:     Following months of work and multiple active public input sessions, the city council on November 6 approved the updated South Suburban Area Plan.  The “South Suburban” planning area includes a small part of the Southwest Ward, south of Silas Creek Parkway and east of Ebert Street.  (Most of this planning area is in the South Ward.)  For the details of the updated plan, see here:  http://www.cityofws.org/Departments/Planning/Area-Plans/South-Suburban

West Suburban Area Plan update public meeting Dec. 5:     Work on the West Suburban small area plan update is underway, and the next scheduled community input session will be held on Tuesday, December 5, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Mount Tabor High School Media Center (342 Petree Road).  Land uses in the area are the focus of this meeting.  Area plans include recommendations for future growth and development that serve as guidance for city decisions about zoning requests, transportation, parks, and other public investments.  Citizen input is key to what we put in these guidelines.  The West Suburban area takes in those Southwest Ward neighborhoods north of US 421 and west of Silas Creek Parkway, along with much larger parts of the West and Northwest Wards.  More information on the area planning process is found here:  http://www.cityofws.org/Departments/Planning/Area-Plans

Parks & Open Space Plan public comment opportunities:     Do you have thoughts on the future development of new parks (or the improvement of existing ones) in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County?  At the public input meeting nearest the Southwest Ward (at Southside Library on Buchanan Street on Nov. 27), a lot of folks commented in support of more greenways, walking and biking trails, and nature walks, among other ideas.  More emphasis on maintenance at existing parks has also been a major comment theme. The public input drop-in sessions were completed in November.  However, if you weren’t able to get to one of those meetings, you can still provide your input by taking the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/WSFC_ParksandOpenSpace

National League of Cities conference:   I helped represent the City of Winston-Salem at the annual National League of Cities (NLC) conference and business meeting, held this year in Charlotte, Nov. 15-18.  Among other work,

--I participated in the NLC policy committee on Transportation Infrastructure and Services, especially in preparing updates for national municipal policy work in support of public transit and biking/pedestrian projects. 

--I took part in the workshop on “Maintaining [Housing] Affordability in Transitioning Markets”.

--I moderated a discussion panel on effective local strategies for addressing gun violence.

--I took advantage of in-depth briefing opportunities on national legislative proposals which would impact local communities, including the proposed tax bills under review in Congress.  (The bills being pushed in Washington now would jeopardize tax provisions important to our local economy, including the state and local tax deduction, and the historic renovation tax credit.)

     I’ve found over the years of my service in local government that these annual NLC conferences are important opportunities for us to exchange information and ideas with our colleagues from across the nation, and dive into the details of innovative approaches to issues of major local concern.

Veterans Day:     I was very pleased to have the opportunity this year to help honor our veterans by participating in the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Winston-Salem on November 11.  Thank you to all those who have served or are serving our nation.

Leaf collections continue:     Fall curbside loose-leaf collections are underway.  Citizens can go to www.CityofWS.org/LeafRoutes to track the progress of leaf collection and to enter their address for an estimate of when the leaf trucks will next be in your neighborhood.  Residents who do not have access to a computer can call CityLink at 311 and a City Link agent will look up their estimated collection date.

    Please remember these guidelines to help ensure that your leaves are collected:

•   Rake leaves to the edge of the yard, behind the curb, and not in the street.  Please do not block sidewalks!

•   Sticks, rocks, and other debris may damage our equipment. Please, leaves only.

•   Do not park vehicles on, in front of, or near leaves.

•   Do not put leaves on a tarp or over a storm drain.

•   Leaf collection is provided to single-family houses only.  Leaf collection from commercially managed housing complexes is the responsibility of by the property owner or the homeowners’ association.

That’s my report for November.  I wish for you all happy holidays with friends and family during December and the new year.  As always, you are welcome to email me at danbesse@danbesse.org with comments or questions.  Thanks!

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