Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hurricane Season is Upon Us

Hurricane season hasn’t officially started, but Hurricane Amanda is already churning in the Pacific off of Mexico. 

Ever wonder how hurricanes get named? The World Meteorological Organization is responsible for naming hurricanes noting distinctive names are quicker and less subject to error than the older, more cumbersome latitude-longitude identification methods.

This week, it’s appropriate to start thinking about the June 1 start of hurricane season because it’s National Hurricane Awareness Week. And Gov. Haley has declared next week as South Carolina Hurricane Awareness Week. Among other activities, the
SC Emergency Management Division (@SCEMD) will engage in a statewide disaster exercise on Tuesday. Plus the state hurricane guide will be released on Sunday.

We, in South Carolina, know how important disaster preparedness should be in every city’s planning process. We also know that disaster preparedness means more than just know evacuation routes. Cities and towns must have a full IT disaster recovery plan to make sure technology resources can quickly be back up and running after a hurricane. 

When a disaster strikes, cities that are members of the Association’s property and liability insurance program, the SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund, have access to an online disaster recovery planning program. This program gets needed resources into place quickly after a disaster and, perhaps more importantly, assists members with the often-neglected process of pre-planning.

In a training session for city communications staff last December, Derrec Becker with the SCEMD gave a presentation on the role the agency plays in a state emergency

Becker has long been a popular speaker with municipal leaders, and he will be presenting a breakout session t the Annual Meeting on the topic of disaster planning. As well, Becker will be speaking at the June 19 communications training workshop that will look at how cities responded to the winter storm disaster this year.

Take a look at all the disaster preparedness resources available from the Municipal Association here

Tweet #hurricaneprep to share FEMA's hurricane preparedness video and inland flooding video.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Countdown to the Annual Meeting - 44 Days!

Plans for the 2014 Municipal Association Annual Meeting in Charleston are well underway, and July 10 will be here before we know it. Charleston always offers lots of learning lab opportunities, and this year is no different.

The meeting registration and hotel reservation process for municipal officials takes place May 28 and 29 through an appointment process with timing determined by a random drawing last week. This process ensures fair access to room assignments and ticketed events.

This year's meeting will mark the last time the conference will be in Charleston during Mayor Joe Riley's tenure. He will open the Annual Meeting on Friday, July 11, with the keynote address that will look back over his 38 years as mayor. Riley will share his experiences along with the challenges and opportunities he sees for our cities and towns in the coming years.

Also on Friday morning, Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt will lead a lively conversation with a panel of South Carolina entrepreneurs. They will discuss what’s happening around the state to meet the Department’s innovation goals and what city leaders can do to make their cities “entrepreneur ready” so people can easily start a company, stay here and grow their business.

There are two great preconference sessions planned for Thursday, July 10. Last year's mobile workshop visiting two nearby cities during the Greenville Annual Meeting was such a success, we've planned a mobile session this year to visit Mt. Pleasant. Officials will be able to hear first-hand about the town's waterfront park, business corridor improvement project and highly acclaimed business incubator. Leaders from cities of all sizes will take away useful information they can apply in their own communities.

The second preconference session will focus on "The Art of Persuasion." Led by nationally acclaimed trainer Michelle Poche Flaherty, the session will teach strategies officials can use in their work to help their cities adapt to change and build consensus. Flaherty works with officials and chief executives from all levels of government and is familiar with the unique challenges government leaders face.

Municipal officials can register for these preconference sessions during the registration appointments on May 28 and 29.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekly Rewind

Only six legislative days remain in this year's session so the state budget and other priority legislation will take center stage the next two weeks. Read more in today's From the Dome to Your Home.

Fifteen South Carolina mayors took a road trip to Fort Mill and Rock Hill this week and learned lots about sports tourism, exploding growth and strategic planning. Yesterday's blog post and news articles from the Rock Hill Herald and WRHI radio tell the story.

Things are gearing up for the Municipal Association's Annual Meeting in Charleston July 10 - 13. Municipal officials will be registering on May 28 and 29 using appointments assigned this week through a random drawing.

Lots of great sessions are planned for the Annual Meeting including a keynote address by Charleston Mayor Joe Riley at the opening session on Friday, July 11. This will be the Association's last Annual Meeting in Charleston while Riley is mayor. 

Also on Friday morning, Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt will lead a conversation with a panel of entrepreneurs who will discuss what city leaders need to do to ensure their community is "entrepreneur ready."

A diverse line-up of other topics for the Annual Meeting include tips for getting your city grant ready, combatting gang activity, disaster preparedness, regional collaboration, ethics reporting and federal flood insurance.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

On the road with 15 SC mayors

What a great day in Rock Hill and Fort Mill

Fifteen mayors spent the day touring these two cities learning from local successes and challenges. In this rapidly growing pocket of the state, these two cities are doing a great job of managing explosive growth while also looking to the future.

Mayors from cities as diverse as Newberry and Johnston to Isle of Palms and Clinton learned about Fort Mill’s downtown redevelopment plans and tourism promotion through its Strawberry FestivalWhile visiting downtown, Fort Mill Mayor Danny Funderburk emphasized two elements that were critical to redevelopment in the town – parks and parking. Funderburk noted that Fort Mill is the third fastest growing city in the state with today’s population of 10,000 expected to triple by 2030.

Fort Mill’s planning director, Joe Cronin, encouraged the mayors to take a close look at their city’s zoning ordinance to make sure nothing gets in the way of progress. He and the mayor both stressed the importance of strategic planning and staying on top of updating and managing the plan.

Mayors moved on to Rock Hill where they got a virtual tour of the city by Mayor Doug Echols over lunch at the city’s flagship park, Manchester Meadows. He described the city’s focus on its downtown Knowledge Park and its sports tourism efforts. Last year, the city sponsored 28 sports tourism events that resulted in more than $8.2 million in economic impact, Echols said. The mayors got to visit the city’s velodrome and toured the BMX facility under construction nearby.

The best part of the day, the mayors agreed, was the chance for them to share ideas during the bus ride between tour stops. Conversations on the bus ranged from the benefits of LED lighting to purchasing police cars. 

The chance to learn from other mayors was great, said Johnston Mayor Terrence Culbreth, the most recently elected mayor in the group. “We need to do this more often,” said Lake City Mayor Lovith Anderson.

Check out the Association’s Twitter feed to get more details and see photos about the tour stops.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lights, camera, action...behind the scenes prep for the Annual Meeting

By Meredith Houck, Creative Services and Production Coordinator at the Municipal Association of SC
Every year, the Municipal Association sponsors its Achievement Awards to recognize and encourage innovation and excellence in our cities and towns. I spend close to a month on the road every spring producing a video that showcases all of the award-winning at the Association’s Annual Meeting.

This is one of the best experiences of my job at the Municipal Association. I get from away from the desk and experience the successes of South Carolina hometowns.

Well before we arrive in a town with the film crew, the planning had started with a detailed production book and script for each winning municipality. While the scripts describe the overall story, the best storytellers are the people directly impacted by the project.

But most of the folks involved with these projects aren’t pros at interviews, and an on-camera interview can be intimidating. The room is quiet enough to hear a pin drop. Bright lights are set around you that make the room feel ten degrees warmer. The next thing you know a fuzzy microphone appears that you, of course, are told to pay no attention to as is hovers above your head.

All of these concerns disappear once the storytelling begins on camera.The excitement for the project can be heard in each word.

In Rock Hill, I interviewed a teacher whose students participated in a city project to develop a civil rights walking tour. The project gave the students the opportunity to learn local history from relatives and residents who relayed historical events first-hand and developed a brochure.

The teacher was brimming with pride as she shared stories of her students’ ownership of the project. Her students poured over each detail of the brochure. After 16 revisions, her students were finally ready to send the brochure to the printer.

As she answered my questions during the taped interview, her students looked on and listened intently to their teacher. It was their turn next to be interviewed. 

The video Meredith is producing will debut at the awards breakfast at the Municipal Association’s Annual Meeting in Charleston on July 12.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Guest blogger: City manager doubles as college professor

By Natalie Zeigler, City Manager in Hartsville

Serving as a city manager requires engagement with and knowledge of as many aspects of the city as possible, and nearly any part of my daily life can play a role in this. In Hartsville, my children’s school experiences make up part of my understanding of Hartsville education. Every trip to a restaurant or specialty shop informs my understanding of local economic development.

When Hartsville’s Coker College suffered the death of the renowned Dr. Jim Lemke and asked me to attempt to fill his shoes by teaching his political science course, I discovered there was so much more I could learn about our community through this, and so many more connections to make.

Coker College is a small private  college with an enrollment of about 1,200, but it brings an extraordinary diversity of students here from across the country and world. In the City of Hartsville, we want very much to keep these young people here after they graduate, and this semester I hope I’ve helped draw at least a few further into our community.

At work in the classroom
My students have attended city council meetings, learning more about everything from governmental budget planning to issuing bonds for infrastructure improvements to downtown development. 

The many aspects of my job allowed me to bring in a wealth of guest speakers to cover many subjects – campaign staffers and congressional field representatives, police investigators, government finance lawyers and even the CEO of the local hospital system to discuss healthcare regulations.

This one semester has created some of the connections I was hoping for with students. One will be working as an intern at City Hall this fall, which can always serve as a stepping stone to a career here. Another student, a criminal justice major, has been connected to the Hartsville Police Department. 

Coker College is such an integral part of Hartsville’s vibrant economy and community, and I’m glad to say my experience teaching there has been beneficial to students and our city government alike.
Contact Natalie at