2015 Annual Report
Community and Information Services
The community and information services department is responsible for the planning and implementation of community engagement efforts, volunteer coordination, information technology services, front desk customer services and administrative support and services. The department also serves as the focal point for all City communications. The department is managed by a community and information services director, an administrative coordinator, a communications and engagement coordinator, a customer service representative and a volunteer coordinator. The department also works with a contracted director of citizen engagement. It is the daily goal of these staff members to deliver services that meet the City’s mission, with actions and behaviors consistent with the City’s values and leadership philosophy.
Several personnel changes took place in 2015. Following 31 years of public service, Susan Hamm retired as administrative coordinator and clerk of council. Following Susan’s retirement, Connie Gaylor was promoted from customer service representative to administrative coordinator and clerk of council. Julie Kipper was hired in February 2015 to fill the role of customer service representative.
The Montgomery Citizens’ Leadership Academy (MCLA) continued to be a popular activity for some of our most engaged citizens. Twenty-three residents became highly engaged citizens over the course of twelve weeks by diving deep into issues of local importance and gaining first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of local government and each of our partners: Sycamore Community Schools, Bethesda North Hospital, Twin Lakes Senior Living Community, Hamilton County Regional Operations Center and Ohio National Financial Services.
The MCLA Alumni Reunion Summit was held on June 25 at Terwilliger Lodge. Forty-five MCLA Alumni, City Council and City staff convened to discuss and analyze the findings of the survey of residents conducted by the University of Cincinnati Institute for Policy Research and Management Partners, Inc. The results of the survey were used as a basis for future strategic planning efforts.
The community and information services department facilitated the City’s 2016-2021 strategic planning process which was accomplished through the collaboration between City Council and staff from all levels of the organization. An important component of the strategic planning process was gathering community input from the survey of residents, during the MCLA Reunion Summit and the Community Leadership Forum.
In 2015, the Community Engagement Grant was awarded to the Montgomery Farmers’ Market to create engaging programming for the many residents and visitors who shop locally at the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market. Examples of this programming included musicians, breakfast with community representatives, a Farmers’ Market cooking competition and examples of children’s engagement including a market mascot and a taste-a-thon.
The community and information services staff, with participation from other key City staff members from the police department and community development department, hosted two Neighborhood Leaders Forums, one in May and a second in November. The May forum focused on the increasing heroin epidemic and its impact on crime prevention. The November forum included a discussion on the economic development opportunities at the Gateway Redevelopment Area and common questions regarding property maintenance.
In 2015, Terwilliger Lodge received building updates and improvements. In August, a new keypad system was installed for Terwilliger Lodge to replace the older key card system. Renters are now provided a four-digit access code that only allows entry to the Lodge during their designated rental period. The system has an administrative interface that allows community and information services staff and the police department to monitor entry of the building, and secure the main entrance door remotely. In November, new carpet was installed in the main room of Terwilliger Lodge. The Wi-Fi internet access at the Lodge was upgraded from Cincinnati Bell’s Zoomtown internet service to the latest Fioptics service. The installation was completed in December.
In January 2015, 21 volunteers prepared the holiday decorations for storage. In April, volunteers assisted with basket planting (28 volunteers), the Arbor Day seedling bag and tag project (9) and tax office activities (2). In May, 58 volunteers participated in Beautification Day and during two weeks in June, 29 volunteers helped make Safety Village a success for the future citizens of Montgomery. In July, 181 volunteers contributed hundreds of hours towards the success of the July 3 concert, July 4 festivities and Bastille Day, making these events the most successful events to date. The year was rounded out with DogFest (2), Harvest Moon Festival (29), Holiday Decorating Workshop and Decorating Day (67) and Holiday in the Village (13). In addition to all of these special events, volunteers also helped with weeding the butterfly garden in Pioneer Park, various front desk coverage needs and office tasks.
In 2015, more than 400 volunteers donated 3,678 hours of service to the community. This represents a dollar value of $73,568. In April of 2015, five exceptional volunteers were added to the Volunteer Walk of Fame. This brick path, located in Montgomery Park, was created to recognize volunteers who have made substantial contributions to the City through their volunteer service.
The City continued to invest in improving its information technology infrastructure in 2015. In 2014, a partnership was created with Sycamore Community Schools to provide wide area network infrastructure and network engineering support. The success of the partnership has led to other technology enhancements in 2015 including the replacement of an outdated telephone system with one that is shared between both the City of Montgomery and Sycamore Community Schools. In total, this successful partnership will save the City over $15,500 per year and has provided additional resources to Sycamore Community Schools to offer improved service to its students, teachers, and staff.
The City of Montgomery website received the Pinnacle Award for the City/County Small Population Group category during the National Association of Government Web Professionals (NAGW) conference on September 24. Pinnacle Awards are judged by a group of web professionals within and outside of the government web industry and are awarded to the best entries based on the following criteria: team size, content, organization, design, performance and flexibility, accessibility standards and interactivity.
“This award reflects the creativity, resourcefulness and dedication of the City website task team.” – Matthew Vanderhorst, community and information services director
During the summer of 2015, the City of Montgomery partnered with Protocol Communications to upgrade the computer network cabling at the Montgomery Safety Center. The original cabling was installed in the late 1990s and could not support emerging needs such as voice over internet protocol (VOIP) and video streaming.