Thursday, May 28, 2015

June is National Safety Month



Join the Municipal Association and the National Safety Council in recognizing June as National Safety Month. This year, we are celebrating your passions with the theme of “What I Live For.” 

Everyone lives for a specific passion, whether it’s family, meaningful work or a love of the outdoors. Reminding employees that engaging in safe behaviors allows them to work to support their families, and enjoy what matters most. 

The NSC has developed free promotional materials to engage employees in safety concepts for the month of June, including template posters on which employees can answer the question, “What do I live for?” Personalizing what is at stake can increase buy-in for city safety efforts. 

This year, the National Safety Council is also focused on prescription painkiller abuse; transportation safety; ergonomics; emergency preparedness; and slips, trips and falls.

Opioid painkillers, which are sold under the brand names Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, and Dilaudid, are highly addictive and should be used carefully and only when necessary. The NSC recommends that patients refrain from work while taking them and encourages patients to ask their doctors for alternatives to opioid prescription painkillers.

According to the NSC, 44 people die in the United States every day from prescription painkiller overdoses, and 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers get them from friends or relatives. Educating employees about the dangers of these drugs can keep them safe at work and at home.

The Association’s self-funded workers’ compensation pool, the South Carolina Municipal Insurance Trust, helps member cities to reduce frequency and severity of claims through regional training events each year.

In May, SCMIT offered joint training with the Association’s self-funded property and liability pool that included tips for mitigating safety hazards and investigation incidents to prevent future injuries.



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Good news for economic development in SC



This week’s announcement of Volvo’s decision to locate in South Carolina is a great time for us to take a look at many of the other economic development successes happening in our state’s cities and towns.

And while manufacturing companies like Volvo often locate outside of a city limits, it’s often the amenities, services and quality of life in the nearby cities and towns that executives focus on when considering where to locate a large facility such as this.

In the May issue of Uptown, we look at the role of cities in economic development from several perspectives.
 
Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt gives a synopsis of South Carolina’s business recruitment efforts. His article not only reinforces why Volvo made a decision to come here, but it also points out how the state is actively pursuing entrepreneurs and high growth companies with the support of Commerce’s Office of Innovation.

The president of the SC Economic Developers Association also weighs in about the important role city officials play in local economic development strategy and implementation. Jeff Ruble points to SCEDA’s Handbook for Economic Development as a great resource for local leaders involved in recruiting and retaining local businesses.

The May Uptown also features several economic development resources for cities and towns. One article focuses on the Bailey Bill which offers tax abatements to rehabilitate historic buildings. Another looks at planning resources available through the SC chapter of the American Planning Association for underserved cities and towns. Also, the Appalachian Council of Governments has released an Entrepreneur Friendly Toolkit that Pickens and Simpsonville are already using in their local economic development efforts.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Celebrating the past, Embracing the future - 2015 Annual Meeting





If you could predict the future, what would your city look like? This question will be a focus of this year’s Annual Meeting July 16 – 19 at Hilton Head.

This week, municipal officials get their first glimpse of the wide variety of topics and issues on this year’s Annual Meeting agenda.
Tying to the meeting’s theme of “Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Future," many of the sessions will examine trends affecting cities’ long-range planning and put forth forecasts on topics as diverse as demographics, the sharing economy and technology. You might even see a drone hovering overhead.
The meeting’s keynote speaker is a well-known “futurist,” Rebecca Ryan, who will share some of the tools and techniques futurists use to imagine what communities could become under various conditions. Also, we’ll dive into how cities need to be prepared for future technology developments such as driverless cars, drones and services such as Uber.

Plus, to celebrate the Association’s rich history of serving the state’s cities and towns, the Annual Meeting will feature a look back at issues, challenges and successes through the decades.

But, here’s something funny about history…you just never know what will turn up when you start digging into it. When initially making plans to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Association’s first Annual Meeting, the staff discovered the Association has been around longer than we originally thought. And this year is actually the 76th Annual Meeting.

The first informal gathering of mayors happened in 1926, not 1939 as we originally thought. The first “official” Annual Meeting of municipal officials took place in February 1940, just weeks after the Association hired its first full-time executive director and moved into its first office building.
 
So this year, we celebrate the 76th Annual Meeting of an organization that has been serving cities for almost 90 years!

Regardless of her age (and we all know you never ask a lady her age), the Association has long served local officials giving them the tools and resources they need to be effective public servants. The Annual Meeting will celebrate this rich history and give local officials the tools to be prepared for what the future holds.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

History repeats itself…state transportation challenges

The General Assembly is debating a proposal to issue millions in state bonds for South Carolina roads. The plan is designed to solve the state's crumbling infrastructure problem. Municipal governments want a share of the money to meet their local road improvement needs.

Sounds familiar in 2015, right? 

No. This is taken from a 1930 report to the Municipal Association board about a legislative proposal to issue $65 million in bonds to pave more than 600 miles of crumbling roads in the state.

1930s Family Cars
To generate support, proponents took out full–page newspaper ads showing the pitiful condition of roads in the state. The paving program was designed to solve the state's infrastructure problem and provide needed Depression-era jobs.

Municipal governments wanted a share of the money to meet their local road improvement needs. Existing law allowed the state to pave roads only in towns with less than 2,500 population.

Details may have changed but our state’s crumbling infrastructure challenges haven’t.

This is one of the many interesting parallels of history revealed during the extensive research of the history of the Municipal Association. There’s lots more where this came from…especially related to annexation and taxation issues.

This summer, the Association is publishing a book that reflects on our history, impact and legacy since the early 1900s. It provides snapshots, milestones, stories and photographs that catalog the events, advancements, decisions, people and partnerships that shaped the evolution of both the Municipal Association of South Carolina and the state's cities and towns.

Stay tuned for more snapshots of history between now and mid-July when the book comes out. It’s really interesting to see how many times history repeats itself in the 20th and 21st centuries.