July 2013 Highlights

National Night Out is coming up on Tuesday, August 6.

National Night Out:    This is the nationwide event when neighborhoods come together for cookouts and other shared activities. It's a way of encouraging neighbors to get to know each other, welcome newcomers, and peacefully work with local police departments to promote neighborhood safety. This Tuesday, August 6, at least 34 neighborhoods in Winston-Salem (including five in the Southwest Ward) will participate. I know of events for Sandersted, Healy Towers, Cedar Line, Mar-Don Hills, and Bridgeport-Stonekirk, and will try to stop by as many as I can get to during the evening. If your neighborhood is having an event not on the city's official list, please let me know. Neighborhood watch programs help neighbors to work with police to help watch out for each other. (Contrary to the recent terrible case from Florida, real neighborhood watch programs are NOT for vigilantes.) For more information, see http://www.cityofws.org/departments/police/crime-prevention/neighborhood-watch

Brush collection rounds behind due to volume of storm debris: Due to the extensive tree and limb damage from the severe storm on June 18, the brush collection rounds by city Sanitation have fallen behind the normal schedule during July. I've been trying to respond to calls for assistance from neighborhoods facing particular challenges, but I'm also appealing for patience as our hard-working collection crews try their best to get back on schedule. Please be assured that your neighborhood is not being ignored--it's just that when the same number of crews are dealing with twice the usual volume of debris, it takes many more trips and much longer to complete per street mile. Thanks for understanding!

Street repavings:    The contractor is nearing completion of the round #1 list of street repavings associated with pavement damage from the ongoing Ardmore area utilities lines rehabilitation project. For those whose streets have been impacted by the utilities work but have not been resurfaced, please bear with us. There will be a second round of evaluations for full repaving coming up as soon as the current sub-basin work is completed. In the meantime, let me know any time there is a particular problem pothole that needs to be patched, and I will get that info to the right person.

State legislature expands mandatory concealed carry zones:    Once again, a majority of the N.C. state legislature has decided it knows better than local voters where to encourage the carrying of more concealed guns. In particular, it has now declared that cities may not ban concealed guns from city-owned playgrounds(!), athletic fields (except when a scheduled game is taking place), greenways, or walking or biking paths. Our legislators in their wisdom have declared that you should feel safer knowing that any person you meet in our parks may have a gun hidden in their bag or under their jacket. Personally, I'm not reassured by this. I will be discussing with my council colleagues and our legal advisers what options the city may retain for keeping guns away from our parks, playgrounds, and other facilities.

Pedestrian/biking projects update:    With the help of a federal grant, Winston-Salem is installing 125 new bike racks throughout downtown and at schools around the city. This summer, the city is also marking an additional 10 miles of bike lanes or shared lanes on streets around the city. For more info on Winston-Salem's programs to make walking, biking, and running in our city safer and more convenient, see the "Active Transportation" pages on the city website: http://www.cityofws.org/departments/transportation/active-transportation

Constituent service notes:    This has been a particularly active month for constituent service requests on matters ranging from missed recycling pickups, through slow brush collection and streets problems, to housing code violations. I'm happy to be able to help with these issues. Alerting me by email is usually quickest, or you're welcome to call. If you call, please leave your name and phone number EARLY in the message, speaking the number slowly so I can write it down, and I'll be able to get back with you faster! You may also hear from our neighborhood service liaison, Vernetta DeVane, depending on who can reach you more quickly.

Other July notes:

--As July closes, the biennial National Black Theatre Festival is bringing internationally acclaimed theater productions to Winston-Salem. If you haven't taken advantage of this unique opportunity, there is still time to do so through August 3, and tickets are available to many performances. For more info, see www.NBTF.org.

--The city council on July 15 approved a resolution authorizing our city's participation in the Campaign for Compassionate Cities. This is a joint public/private effort to advance respect and compassionate outreach for those in need in our community. We authorized the Winston-Salem Human Relations Commission to develop and propose a program of work to pursue these goals.

--I spent some more time in July going door to door in some of the neighborhoods off Griffith Road which were recently moved into the Southwest Ward. I'm always looking for chances to stop by meetings of neighborhood groups and meet more of the folks I work to represent.


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