We are so fortunate to live in North Texas and even better that we live in Highland Village. Even though I am closely ingrained in city government and the day-to-day activities and projects underway, I am still amazed at all that gets done in our community. We have talented, hard-working people on staff at the City. They work hard to make Highland Village a great community in which to live. They make my job easy.
What prompted me to write this topic for this month’s article is the following message we received from a Highland Village resident. He wrote, “I want to thank you and the streets department for coming to our aid. Last spring I called you in a panic as our yard was filling with water and we were having water enter the house from runoff from up the hill. Your streets department manager Don Strange and Bobby Salmon and staff worked diligently to re-engineer our curb line to guide water toward the drain further down the street to a large inlet. The work was finished a couple months ago, but last night we had our first big test with high rainfall. The curb worked perfectly and our yard was not flooded (nor our house). We would like to thank you all for your efforts to protect our home. We have only been here just over a year and out of all of the places we have lived around our country, the City of Highland Village staff and governance, has been the most responsive we have ever seen. Our thanks to you all, you have certainly impressed us with your professionalism and service.”
This project was completed by our street and drainage department. The drainage division was a recent addition when the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required cities in urban areas to address the development and implementation of a storm water management program and comply with specific requirements. For this resident, we were able to protect their investment and the safety of their home. Another success story from the drainage division is our proactive approach in combating areas where mosquitoes can breed and thrive. In the past the City reacted to a positive case of West Nile Virus by contracting with an outside vendor to spray specific neighborhoods. Now our drainage division sets mosquito traps throughout the city, captures and sends mosquitoes to be tested. When mosquitoes in a certain area test positive for carrying West Nile, Chikungunya and the Zika virus our crews treat standing water in culverts, creeks and wooded areas. Crews are also fogging the public greenbelt areas five days a week when “mosquito season” begins. Because of this proactive approach, we have seen less and less mosquitoes testing positive for these viruses. We are often used as an example of what to do to keep your community safe from these viruses.
Here is another success story:
A group of residents recently requested the City provide a dog park for our residents to use when a space on LISD property was closed. We did not have a dog park in our plans and had not budgeted for the construction of one. We asked our parks director, Linda Cornelius, to analyze all City park land to determine if we had an unused area that could become a dog park for our residents. With the opening of Doubletree Ranch Park, soccer fields on the northeast side of Unity Park were moved to Doubletree Ranch Park. This left one and a half acres available for a dog park. Even though a dog park was not a budgeted item, we were able to use Park Development and Service Area IV fees to fund a good portion of the cost of the park and the rest came from the General Fund. City crews are installing the irrigation system, benches and flag poles providing a cost savings. Our parks and recreation crews take great pride in providing the recreation, outdoor play and open space areas for our residents. Once the turf is established, we will open Unity Dog Park for use by our residents and their canine family members.
Over my time as Mayor and serving on Council I have heard countless stories of our employees making a difference in the lives of the people of our community. Not too long ago our Parks and Street crews were working by Wichita Forest. They noticed a couple kids bikes laying by the woods and a woman pull up frantically searching for her kids. She had called 911 to report the kids were lost in Wichita Forest and arrived at the location before an officer. City crew members quickly went into the forest looking for the two boys. They were able to find them and see that they made it safely to their Mom and Dad. This is the type of people we have working for us in Highland Village. If there is a need, they all pitch in and help.
Council has the opportunity to recognize employees when they retire from the city and in each and every case the employee has impacted the lives of fellow staff members, our residents and the business community. Our employees wear many hats. They cross over and work in other departments, they help where they are needed whether it is their job or not. This builds a strong internal base that, in turn, strongly serves our community. We are a small city with a small group of employees. Their true mission is to serve the residents and visitors of Highland Village.
I am proud of the men and women who serve our city. They work behind the scenes to make Highland Village a beautiful, safe and much desired community. If you have the opportunity to interact with them you also will benefit from their eagerness to serve. I am grateful and thankful for all the people who work and volunteer their time to our wonderful city.
In closing, I want to remind you to look in Highland Village first as you prepare for our next big holiday, Valentine’s Day! We have many restaurants here for you to take your special someone. There are many boutique stores so you can give a unique gift to the one you love. We can’t say it enough, make it a habit to shop and dine Highland Village first. I look forward to seeing you around town and appreciate all of you!