Monday, May 28, 2007

Thought for the Day

"Standing for truth and right is not solely a Sunday thing. Every day our neighborhoods and communities are in desperate need of our support and our commitment."

--Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
(governing body for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
quoted in The Ensign, November 1997, page 38

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Day (Or Month) in the Life . . .

Jimmie Cates left big shoes to fill. But fill them we must -- and Utah Code 20A-1-510 gives us only thirty days to do so.

I have fielded questions from every quarter on this subject, so, for your convenience and mine, I'm posting answers here at the blog.

Q. How will the vacancy be filled?

A. Any interested applicant must submit his or her name and a letter of interest to City Recorder Richard Colborn by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 1. Applicants will give brief presentations before the City Council in its regular session on Tuesday, June 12. The Council will then meet on Thursday, June 14 to fill the vacancy. In accordance with statute, the vacancy will be filled by vote of the Council, not by the Mayor.

Q. What makes a good City Council member?

A. From my informal conversations with various members of the Council, I can surmise that we will be looking for somebody who communicates well; somebody who has substantial experience with two or more aspects of the City, so that he can see the big picture; who is open and willing to consider questions from all points of view; who has the time and ability to serve; and, finally, somebody who will fit well into the synergy and momentum the current Council enjoys.

Q. What is the workload of a City Council member?

A. I was told, when I filed for office, that I could expect to give twenty hours a week. This number has held, though certain few crisis weeks have taken thirty to forty hours. Here's how I spend my time:

City Council meetings and work sessions. Three to four hours per week, not including prep time.
Committee assignments. (Meetings of the Library Board, Beautification and Shade Tree committee, etc.) Four evenings per month, not including prep time.
Department assignments. (Parks department, Economic Development, etc.) Two to four meetings per month, not including prep time.
Miscellaneous meetings that come up on short notice each week: two or three.
Meetings and trainings with state and regional agencies such as UDOT, Utah League of Cities and Towns, etc. A day or two every other month.
Communication. Time spent answering mail, returning phone calls, and blogging: about three hours each week.
Writing. This isn't technically part of the Council's job description, unless you define the job as whatever it takes to do the job. In the last eighteen months, I've written two mailers, two grants, and codified the organizational structure of the Arts Council. Each project took me about eighteen hours.

Prep time. This is time spent following through on committee assignments, reading packets and minutes, reading books, doing Web research, etc. About two hours each day. I do it while my baby naps.

Q. Can a homemaker do this job?

Yup. And who better -- after all, isn't American Fork our home? I look at homemaking, or child-rearing, if you prefer, as a full-time job. That puts me in the same boat as my colleagues Shirl LeBaron and Ricky Storrs, who also hold full-time jobs. If they can pull part-time hours on top of their day jobs, so can I.

Q. Can a homemaker do this job and keep her sanity?

A. That's not technically an issue with me, because I wasn't fully sane to begin with. But here are a couple lists to show how the Council fits into the fabric of my life:

What I Still Do
--Make dinner
--Practice the piano
--Make my children play the piano
--Read compulsively
--Read to my children
--Help with homework
--Drive kids to three schools each day
--Rely on my husband's support
--Serve in a couple church callings
--Pull weeds
--Sleep like a baby

What I Don't Do
--Housework (I have kids for this)
--Soccer, basketball, T-Ball, or Little League
--PTA (this was the hardest to give up)

Q. I have my family, my church, my job, etc. Does the City really need me too?

A. Absolutely. This nation was built on the principle of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We cannot ask our military to defend our freedoms abroad if we are not willing to defend them at home. Staunch conservative that I am, I nevertheless agree with Hilary that it takes a village to raise a child -- and it's our job to see that our village is whole. We need everybody to do their part.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

'Till We Meet Again

The image I'm keeping is that of Jimmie Cates on his lunch hour, removing a pitchfork from his truck and clearing out ditches. That's more service than the American Fork Irrigation Company bargained for when Jimmie became the City Council delegate to its board.

His many virtues were well accounted for at his funeral this morning. He was careful, measured, studious, fair, honest, and thoughtful of his fellow man. He was true to his family and to his church.

But I would venture to do here what has not been done elsewhere: To name the political legacy Jimmie left to the City of American Fork.

I believe it is Jimmie we must thank for the successful passage of the water bond which now assures us an adequate water supply for the next 50 years. It was Jimmie who labored to understand the complexities of the question, then to persuade his fellows on the City Council and at the Irrigation Company. He forged a meaningful consensus between these two bodies, then attended countless meetings with the public to listen, judge, and testify.

Who, having seen Jimmie with his pitchfork, could doubt his sincerity?

I have tremendous respect for Jimmie and will miss him now that he has moved on.

'Till we meet again.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

UDOT Lists 2007 Projects for North Utah County

At a May 11 meeting with local government officials, UDOT handed out a care package detailing projects underway here in region 3.

I post this information with no editorial comment, other than that the American Fork projects are too newsworthy to keep to myself.
(Click image to enlarge.)

I-15 Southbound Auxiliary Lane, Lehi to American Fork
Summary of work: UDOT will build an auxiliary lane connecting the southbound on ramp at Lehi Main Street (Exit 279) to the southbound off ramp at American Fork Main Street (Exit 278).
Project status: Construction is planned to begin in June and be completed by the end of July.
Anticipated traffic impacts: Travel delays should be minimal as most of the work will be in the shoulder areas of the freeway. Motorists should use caution while traveling through this area as heavy equipment is accessing the area.

Ramp Meters, I-15 Alpine Through Orem
Summary of work: UDOT plans to install ramp meters to better manage traffic along I-15 from the Alpine interchange to University Parkway in Orem.
Project status: Design is underway and construction crews should install the metering equipment by mid-summer 2007. UDOT plans to install metering equipment on all northbound on-ramps and several southbound on ramps as funding allows.
Anticipated project impacts: Motorists should expect slight delays for heavy equipment working in the ramp areas.

S.R. 74, 145, 180, 114: Resurfacing Various Locations in American Fork and Orem
Summary of work: Due to asphalt shortages in 2006, this project will be completed in 2007. With this work, UDOT will remove a two-and-one-half-inch layer of asphalt and replace it with new asphalt on 100 E, 500 E and Main Street in American Fork and Geneva Road in Orem.
Project status: Construction crews plan to begin paving operations on Geneva Road May 21 and complete all sections by July.
Anticipated traffic impacts: Motorists will be restricted to one-lane between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Traffic Signals: Additional traffic signals are being installed at these American Fork locations:
-- Northbound ramps at American Fork Main Street interchange. (Design is underway with construction slated for summer 2007. Project includes widening both sides of the interchange bridge over I-15.)
-- U.S. 89 at 300 West in American Fork. (Glory, hallelujah!) (Design is nearing completion; construction is planned for Fall 2007 but could be delayed by the property acquisition process.)

(Okay, there was one editorial comment. Couldn't resist.)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Economic Development

Last January, I made a to-do list for 2007 and included the creation of a vision statement for economic development in American Fork. That item, as you will see below, can now be checked off my list.

Officially still a draft, this document was created by Economic Development Director Debby Lauret and myself. It is intended to serve as a lens through which the City government may scrutinize its decisions.

This is important to me because I campaigned on this issue. I see the major functions of City government as these: (1) public safety and infrastructure; (2) economic development; and (3) quality of life. When I filed for office, I felt those last two items had been neglected.

Sure, there's the Meadows, a fantastically successful piece of economic development by the previous administration. But the Meadows is all retail, and American Fork needs to diversify its economic base -- as you'll see below.

The statement is reproduced here in its entirety. I see it as the first important step on the path to economic health for American Fork.

Economic Development Vision Statement
American Fork City

Mission. The Economic Development department seeks to enhance the prosperity and quality of life of American Fork residents through attention to three factors which influence the City’s economic development: (1) support of present and prospective business members of American Fork; (2) development of a qualified work force; and (3) promotion of a quality of life that will allow businesses to thrive.


Philosophy. A healthy business sector with a diversified economy provides a greater variety of career opportunities for residents and provides for residents’ day-to-day needs. It also makes the tax base more resilient to changes in the national economy. American Fork can attract and retain a healthy mix of businesses through careful attention to its business climate.

Objective 1: Create a diversified economy.

  • Maintain an inventory of commercially developable properties and buildings in American Fork. Maintain certification in the Utah SURE Sites program. Respond to inquiries in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Target specific industries that bring in higher tax revenues, fill gaps in the current market, offer high-quality career opportunities for residents, or thrive in Utah Valley’s high-technology cluster.
Objective 2: Revitalize and maintain the downtown business district.

  • Help the downtown, which is perceived as the economic epicenter of the City, to project an attractive and economically vibrant image.
  • Maintain infrastructure in good repair, including sidewalks, streetscapes, and parking lots.
  • Provide, through City ordinances, for signage conducive to business in a walking environment.
  • Encourage the redevelopment of the Harrington School property.
  • Provide incentives in the form of a low-interest loan program to attract niche merchants to the downtown.
Objective 3: Provide ongoing nurture and support of local businesses.

  • Work to support retention and expansion of existing American Fork businesses.
  • Through partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, provide promotional, networking, and training opportunities for area businesses, including the annual production of a business directory.
  • Partner with the news media to highlight local businesses.
  • Increase patronage of local businesses through support of the cultural tourism industry.

Philosophy. High-quality businesses are powered by a well-educated workforce. American Fork shows its commitment to quality education for both young and life-long learners through its support of educational opportunities at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, as well as in the trades.

Objective 1: Advance the quality of education.

  • Maintain cooperative relations with the Alpine School District and with private elementary and secondary institutions. Support and promote the Utah Scholars program.
  • Support Utah Valley State College in its efforts to become a university. Support the expansion of the Mountainland Applied Technology Centers.
Objective 2: Support workforce training programs.

  • Support and promote the Utah College of Applied Technology’s Custom Fit program in its mission of providing customized employee training.
  • Maintain open relations with the Department of Workforce Services and with LDS Employment Services.

Philosophy. A high quality of life enables the City to attract and retain businesses. Quality of life helps businesses to recruit and retain workers and to project stronger images. Quality infrastructure is an enabling factor in many business transactions.

Objective 1: Provide adequate infrastructure and essential services.

  • Work with UDOT, Mountainland Association of Governments, Utah County, and others to provide for transportation needs, including roads and commuter rail. Support appropriate transportation legislation and help to identify funding sources.
  • Maintain roads and sidewalks at consistent, high quality.
  • Provide or advocate for consistent, high quality utilities, including water, sewer, garbage pick-up, recycling, Internet and power.
  • Advocate upgrades at the Timpanogos Special Service District that will eliminate odors on the south side.
Objective 2: Promote quality of life issues that are attractive to prospective businesses and their employees.

  • Serve as a resource to the American Fork Arts Council in recommending programs, concerts, and facilities that will stimulate cultural tourism to the area. Facilitate partnerships between the Arts Council and the business community. Help secure sponsorships for festivals, exhibits, and other cultural magnets.
  • Support the development of active recreation programs and adequate park facilities.
  • Support the work of the Beautification and Shade Tree Committee and the Nuisance Abatement Committee in their efforts to clean up and beautify the City.
  • Advocate effective stewardship of the City’s natural resources, including open space, sensitive lands, wetlands and shoreline preservation, and trees.