July 2017 Highlights

National Night Out is tomorrow evening (Tuesday, August 1).

National Night Out:     Winston-Salem will join other communities across the nation on August 1 in celebrating National Night Out, the annual event promoting partnership between neighborhoods and police departments to help keep our communities safe.  Millions of people in all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian provinces, and military bases worldwide participate.
In Winston-Salem, NNO kicks off with the citywide event at 6 p.m., this year hosted by watch group 316 at 1010 Hutton Street, and continues at 30 neighborhood sites across the city.  I’ll be trying to get to all five sites in the Southwest Ward before 8 p.m.:  Normandy Lane, Harwick-Bridgeport Park, Seasons Chase Gazebo, Preston Downs, and Mar-Don Hills Circle.  Come on out and I’ll see you there.  (If you’d like to set up a new or renewed neighborhood watch on your street over the coming year, contact the WSPD’s Neighborhood Watch Coordinator, Officer G.K. Wykle, at gwykle@wspd.org.)

Police Chief finalists:     The search for hiring a new city police chief who will take over leading the department when Chief Barry Rountree retires is entering its final stages.  Three finalists have been selected from a strong field, and will be introduced to the public at an open event on Wednesday, August 17.  In addition to being open to the public, the event will be televised on TV13, to allow city residents to hear from the candidates.  Final details of time and location will be announced in early August.  Under our city’s council-manager form of government, the final decision on who to hire will be made by the city manager (after he has completed the interviews and weighed input from officers, council members, and the public).

State of Black Winston-Salem 2017 Report:     The Winston-Salem Urban League on July 17 released a special report titled, “From Equality to Equity—State of Black Winston-Salem 2017”.  The report takes a close statistical look at the relative position of black residents compared to white residents in four categories:  economics and assets; educational attainment; social justice and civil rights; and health and wellness.  It looks at the comparison through the lens of 13 indices, including income, unemployment, homeownership, 3rd grade reading and math scores, nonviolent traffic arrests, health insurance, death rates, low birth weight, homicide, HIV prevalence, and healthy food access.  For example, the rate of black homeownership to white homeownership is only 52%; while the rate of low birth weight is 242%.

The report contains additional analysis and recommendations for elected officials, corporate leaders, and nonprofit organizations in each area.  I will be further studying the recommendations relevant to local elected officials for ideas on how we can help address the disparities.  The full report can be found at http://wsurban.org/read-the-state-of-black-winston-salem-report/

Business 40 and US 52 interchange work starts:     The NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has announced that it will begin revamping the lanes of (and around) the interchange of Business 40 and US 52 tomorrow (August 1).  The work will take place between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays, and continuously from 7 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.  It will continue until completed, so please plan to leave extra time for slow traffic or detours if you must use that intersection during the affected times.

Please also recall from last month’s Update that reconstruction of the Peters Creek Parkway/Business 40 interchange will start sometime this fall (2017).  Both Peters Creek Parkway and Business 40 (to be renamed “Salem Parkway”) will remain open to traffic during this period, which is expected to last until fall 2018.  Sometime during summer 2018, reconstruction of the interchange of Peters Creek Parkway and Academy Street is expected to begin, also to finish fall 2018.  Sometime during fall 2018, the reconstruction of Business 40 itself is expected to begin.  That’s when Business 40 is expected to close between Peters Creek Parkway and Main Street.  It is expected to re-open in mid-to-late 2020.  The N.C. Department of Transportation will hold public meetings to discuss the plans and answer questions this September.  In the meantime, these details and more are available at www.business40nc.com.    

Griffith Road sidewalk:     Last month I mentioned that funding for extension of an important Silas Creek Parkway sidewalk (Bolton Street to Lockland Avenue) has been approved by the city council, as part of this biennium’s round of “two-thirds” bonds.  Any time I mention sidewalk projects, I’m always asked, “When will the Griffith Road sidewalk be built?”  I’m including an update on that here:  The Griffith Road sidewalk (from south of Hanes Mall Boulevard all the way down to E. Kimwell Drive) received a big boost when voters approved the city bonds referendum in 2014.  The list of sidewalk projects to share those funds included Griffith Road.  Earlier this year, it was also approved for a share of federal/state transportation funds.  Now, its funding is completely set, but our city engineers can only coordinate so many projects at once, and several others around the city were in line first.  The Griffith Road sidewalk is set to be bid out and constructed in 2018.  It’s coming—please be patient!

Salem Lake facilities:     Construction work continues on the new facilities for Salem Lake.  The main parking area and fishing pier at the dam have now been re-opened.  The unpaved lot outside the lower gate is closed for work.  The Salem Lake Trail continues to be open to users.  http://www.cityofws.org/News/ID/20336/Salem-Lake-Pier-and-Boat-Ramp-Reopening-Monday

Winston-Salem Tree City:     In July, the North Carolina Forest Service named Winston-Salem North Carolina’s 2017 Tree City of the Year.  We were selected from among the eligible NC cities on the basis of our overall urban forestry program, and this year particularly because of new efforts to improve the maintenance of trees in the city.  These included a brochure and video for homeowners about trees in the streets right-of-way; a hands-on tree-pruning workshop; and an effort working with utilities on correct pruning standards to follow during upgrades and maintenance.  For more information, see http://www.cityofws.org/Departments/Property-Facilities-Management/Vegetation-Management

Upcoming events in August:     There are several other city events of interest in August:

--National Black Theater Festival:     The premier national showcase for black theater in America began its 2017 run here in Winston-Salem on July 30 and will continue with shows and events through August 5.  For complete schedule and ticket information, see www.NBTF.org.

--School supply distribution:     The Winston-Salem Police Department and Winston-Salem Police Foundation are sponsoring a school supplies giveaway at four locations in our city on Friday, August 11, beginning at 10 a.m.  The four sites are the Winston Mutual Building, 1225 E. 5th Street; WSPD District 1, 7836 North Point Blvd.; WSPD District 2, 1539 Waughtown St.; and WSPD District 3, 2393 Winterhaven Lane (corner of Somerset Dr. & S. Stratford Rd.).

--Annual Community Day & Health Fair:     United Health Centers will host a community health fair on Saturday, August 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their new clinic on the south side of Marketplace Mall, 2101 Peters Creek Parkway.  Families are invited for free health screenings, refreshments, school supplies, games, and other fun. 

--Parent Trust Talks:     The WSPD and Winston-Salem Human Relations Department are sponsoring the latest “Trust Talk” event for police and community dialogue on Tuesday, August 22, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at City Hall (101 N. Main St.).  Call Pam Peoples-Joyner at 336-773-7962 to pre-register.

--Melrose/Hawthorne pedestrian crossing input:     If you walk in the Ardmore neighborhood and want to provide input to the city Transportation Department on how to make the Hawthorne Road/Melrose Street intersection safer for pedestrians, come to a public input drop-in session on Thursday, August 24, between 5:30 and 7 p.m. at Redeemer School, 1046 Miller Street.

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