Monday, September 20, 2021

City Employee Mask Requirement Lifted

With the recent updated mask guidance provided last week by the CDC, the City of Southlake will no longer require face coverings be worn by its employees.

“The City of Southlake has followed federal, state and local health department guidelines throughout this pandemic and will continue to do so as we all move forward navigating the new realities of COVID-19,” Southlake Fire Chief Michael Starr said. “With widely-available vaccines and low local hospitalization and positivity rates, coupled with the new CDC guidelines issued last week, we feel confident that we can now allow our employees to perform their duties safely without continuing to require them to wear masks. Of course, employees who feel they need to continue wearing them may do so.”

This change follows the March 2020 lifting of mask requirements for visitors to City facilities which became effective once state and county mask mandates were rescinded. There are also a couple of other changes happening at the City of Southlake. Beginning May 19, Champions Club will no longer close midday for extensive COVID-19 cleaning. Be sure to check their website for updated hours and program information. Visit ChampionsClubSouthlake.com for more information.

The City will also no longer publish the COVID-19 case data dashboard specific to Southlake. However, residents can still view Southlake data on the Tarrant and Denton County website. Find these links at ProtectSouthlake.com.

The City would like to thank the Southlake community for all you have done in the past year to help protect Southlake and keep families, employees and visitors safe.

Interested in getting the vaccine? Contact your health care provider or find information from the State of Texas, Tarrant County and Denton County on where to get a vaccine at ProtectSouthlake.com.

Tarrant County Registering Individuals for COVID-19 Vaccine

Are you interested in getting the COVID-19 Vaccine? Tarrant County is registering all individuals who live and work in Tarrant county for the vaccine.  Currently, only Phases 1A (frontline healthcare workers) and 1B (age 65 and older or a qualifying medical condition) are eligible at this time, however, Tarrant County Public Health is planning for future roll-out of the vaccine and wants to ensure that future allocations are available for the community as a whole.

All individuals are required to pre-register for an appointment to be vaccinated through Tarrant County. The registration process will ask you questions regarding your health and demographics.  Once you meet the eligibility requirements provided by the State, you will receive an email, text, or phone call regarding your scheduled appointment date, time, and location.

As you may have seen in recent news, the City of Southlake is partnering with Tarrant County and other entities for a vaccination clinic at the Hurst Conference Center. This new location will allow the County to provide more vaccinations in the coming weeks, with a location more available for NE Tarrant County residents. You MUST be registered with Tarrant County Public Health in order to receive a vaccination at the Hurst site.

To register, you will go through Tarrant County by visiting tarrantcounty.com/covid vaccine, and Tarrant County will follow up with instructions and your assigned location. If you need additional assistance, please call 817-248-6299.

For more information, visit the Tarrant County COVID-19 Vaccine Information website.

 

2020 Elections Guide

Tuesday, November 3 is Election Day. If you’re voting on election day, voting hours are 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Don’t forget to bring your photo ID with you to vote. Here’s a list of acceptable forms of photo ID. Remember, when going to the polls, leave your campaign and political clothing and buttons at home. No electioneering is allowed while at the polls.

 

COVID-19 and Voting at Town Hall

Voting at Town Hall will be a little different this year than previous years. Tarrant County and the City of Southlake are coordinating our efforts to keep voters safe and comply with CDC guidelines. Tarrant County is managing protocols for voter safety while voting such as cleaning machines and the use of hand sanitizer.

Voters are encouraged to wear a mask or face covering while inside Town Hall waiting to vote and while voting. Voters are also required to maintain a physical distance of six feet from people not in their immediate household. Floor markers will be installed to help guide voters while waiting in line. Hand sanitizing stations and masks are available throughout Southlake Town Hall. Town Hall will be thoroughly cleaned each day after voting hours end.

 

Voting Locations

Voters in Tarrant County can vote anywhere in Tarrant County, including at Southlake Town Hall during early voting or on election day. Find a location to vote near your work or home by viewing the Tarrant County Early Voting Locations List.

For Denton County residents who plan to vote during early voting, view the Denton County Early Voting Locations List. For those who plan to vote on November 3, view the Denton County Election Day Polling Sites.

 

Early Voting Information

Early voting days and hours are as follows:

Tarrant County

Dates Days Times
October 13 – 17 Tuesday – Saturday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
October 19 – 23 Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
October 24 Saturday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
October 25 Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
October 26 – 30 Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Denton County

Dates Days Times
October 13 – 17 Tuesday – Saturday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
October 18 Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
October 19 – 24 Monday – Saturday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
October 25 Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
October 26 – 30 Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

 

Mail In Ballots

Visit the Tarrant County Election Board’s website for information about requesting and submitting a mail in ballot for voters in Tarrant County.

Visit the Denton County Election Board’s website for information on requesting and submitting a mail in ballot for voters in Denton County.

 

Ballot Information

Beginning September 1, Texas House Bill 25 eliminated straight-party voting.

Voters in Tarrant County can view what is on the ballot by viewing the Tarrant County Sample Ballot page and entering their voter information.

Voters in Denton County can view what is on the ballot by viewing the Denton County Sample Ballot page and entering their voter information.

 

City of Southlake Candidates

View the Southlake City Council candidates for Place 1 and Place 6.

 

Parking at Town Hall

Parking spaces located on the north side of Southlake Town Hall have been designated as voter parking. Additional parking is available around Town Square and in both parking garages.

Two parking spaces are designated for people with mobility issues for curbside voting accommodations. If you are disabled and in need of voting assistance and would like to select to vote curbside, park in one of the parking spaces off of Grand Avenue notated on the map below and call the phone number on the sign in front of the parking space.

 

 

For more information about the 2020 Elections, visit CityofSouthlake.com/2020Elections.

Southlake Police Department Works Together to Protect Team During COVID-19

There are two aspects of the law enforcement profession that are constant: the call to act in an individual’s time of need and having to rely on others in your own time of need. Both aspects of a law enforcement career carry their own situational rules, all of which are aimed and geared towards providing a level of service to meet any identified need, regardless of the severity or quantity of people effected.

Many times officers are called upon by members of the community in times of duress, which can range from being stranded alongside the roadway in need of a tire change to other more serious instances involving a family crisis or in extreme cases, the need for protection against a family member or strangers. Without initially having all the specific facts for these types of emergencies, officers are expected to arrive prepared in their response while still acting within the confines of the law. However, what about the times when officers themselves need help, who can they call on for support?

In situations such as these, officers may turn towards their own and the assistance comes from within the agency or sometimes by other outreach groups within the community. Realizing that none of us have ever lived through the COVID-19 pandemic before, it has become a fast and accelerating learning curve for all. However, during this time, three individuals within the Southlake Police Department have worked behind the scenes and without recognition to keep all members of the agency, as well as other work groups within the City, protected when called upon to protect and meet the needs of the community.

Officer David Aldridge, Community Initiatives Coordinator Valerie Snyder and Administrative Secretary Diana Green have relentlessly searched for, coordinated and gathered needed supplies to keep officers of the Southlake Police Department in business since the beginning of the pandemic.

From the start of the COVID pandemic, Aldridge stepped up and assisted the Police Department in gathering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other sanitation equipment. As the pandemic continued, Aldridge helped in creating a PPE and sanitation inventory to keep track of all PPE equipment for the department. During that time, he also became the main contact for Purchasing Manager Tim Slifka on receiving all PPE orders from the City and distributing them accordingly.

Aldridge worked closely with Snyder and Green to make sure items were ordered and distributed accordingly.

“Aldridge went out of his way on numerous occasions to be available for anyone who needed the PPE equipment and sort out all the shipments to make sure it got to the right department,” Patrol Captain Jose Luna said. “On top of it all, Aldridge is in charge of the patrol units for the department. During this pandemic, he also took a shipment of three new patrol vehicles and has worked hard to get them ready to hit the road. Officer Aldridge has always been a team player and makes himself available for anyone who needs assistance.”

Through coordinated efforts, Snyder and Green have reached out to numerous companies, supply chains, independent contractors and even generous citizens, in order to obtain basic needed supplies such as: hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, face shields, Tyvek suits and other sanitary products. Through their assistance, they have obtained enough supplies to build Aldridge’s inventory to allow officers to still function within the confines of the law and to respond to emergencies when called upon in time of need.

“I have directly witnessed Valerie’s assistance and the impact she has on the agency. Her ability to think outside of the box coupled with her intuitive nature, allowed her to navigate unknown systems where numerous individuals or corporations were applying and competing for the same resources,” Professional Standards Division Captain Jason Henninger said. “In many instances, it came down to the relationships she had previously built that allowed our agency to receive what was needed, which is immeasurable. Due to her ability to build these types of professional working relationships the agency recognizes her as a true and exceptional asset.”

The work of these three individuals has not been overlooked or forgotten, and will forever stand as examples of Innovation, Commitment to Excellence and Teamwork!

CSO Innovates Through Teamwork and a Commitment to Excellence

While the uncertainties around COVID-19 has put a damper on in-person interactions, it has pushed many to utilize existing technologies and further e-services.

Southlake’s City Secretary’s Office took the lead with digital projects within their own department and assisting other departments, all while working remotely themselves. The CSO assisted HR with Laserfiche training to create 12 digital forms for internal use.

“The push for government accessibility electronically is something we embrace,” City Secretary Amy Shelley said. “As Southlake employees, we value innovation to help improve the community we serve.”

Because citizen participation in meetings is highly valued, the CSO developed a digital public comment card for citizens to express their views electronically for virtual or in-person meetings during the pandemic.

The CSO also amended a Records Management Program ordinance to support the importance of maintaining the City’s records and business continuity, to be submitted to Council for approval later this fall.

They’ve also dedicated time to professional development and improving processes and procedures for the ever-changing environment COVID-19 has thrown at the community.

“We’ve accomplished great things while working remotely. This was all possible because of the exceptional team, who are dedicated to making Southlake a better place to live and work,” Shelley said.

At the City of Southlake, we believe that innovation, teamwork and a commitment to excellence is critical to shaping the future of the community.

City Updates Recruiting and Forms for an Increasingly Digital World

COVID-19 transitioned life for everyone, with many organizations promoting changes they’ve made in the interest of public safety.

HR Director Stacey Black said the internal changes initiated through COVID-19 are not always visible.

“Our department’s efforts have been two-fold so that we’re protecting the public, but also protecting our greatest asset, our employees,” she said. “We’ve implemented social distancing guidance, provided PPE and enabled employees to work from home so that our team can be at their best in serving the Southlake community.”

For City of Southlake Talent Acquisition Partner Rebecca Hart, work pivoted briefly in March 2020 from recruiting candidates and hiring to COVID-19 expert.

“Taking COVID-19 calls parallels what I do in recruiting beautifully,” she said. “I’m talking with employees, listening, empathizing and documenting. I’ve really enjoyed the transition.”

Now that recruiting has picked back up, Hart finds herself still discussing COVID-19 through the lens of how the City is addressing the pandemic for candidates and employees. Recruiting and hiring has turned virtual with video interviews by optimizing technology the City already utilized. Hiring managers have entrusted her to narrow down candidates through phone and virtual interviews to limit in-person interactions.

Hart compared working for the City of Southlake to being on the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Employees don’t want to lag behind, they want to step their game up to Michael Jordan’s level.

Ever since her first day on the job, Hart feels a sense of pride working for the City and like she has always been part of the team.

“We’re a team of high-quality employees. Everyone wants to rise to the occasion and be the best they can possibly be,” she said. “It’s inspiring.”

One of the things the City excels at, according to Hart, is playing to each employee’s strengths and putting them in positions for success. That’s where her coworker Dylan Welch has truly shined.

Welch has taken on the project of going digital with HR forms.

“Working with paper forms, we’re printing, signing and scanning into the system with each and every form,” he said. “My goal is to create evergreen forms so that employees can easily access the information they need and turn them in without extra, unnecessary steps.”

During open enrollment each year, Welch estimated it takes the team six hours to stuff envelopes with 13,000 sheets of paper with benefits information, in addition to the countless hours spent preparing and printing the information and the data entry once the forms are submitted. His goal for this year is to eliminate paper open enrollment forms for 2020, along with all of the time associated with paper, saving weeks spent on this project alone.

Form creation entails more than just scanning previous paper forms. Digital forms are created from scratch, analyzing the necessary information for the form and redesigning when needed. Welch also has the tedious task of pre-populating regularly used information like an employee’s name, and then tests the form so any issues can be fixed.

“What’s been great about this project and working at Southlake is that there’s very little direction, and that’s by design,” Welch said. “I have the freedom to create something great for our employees and have been entrusted to do my job to the best of my ability. It’s empowering to take on an enormous project like this and really own it.”

The City of Southlake prides itself on the attitude and behavior of its employees to make The Southlake Way a mindset, culture and service strategy.

Interested in joining an organization dedicated to Integrity, Innovation, Accountability, Excellence and Teamwork? Find our open positions here.

Commissioned Artwork Speaks to COVID-19 Feelings

Every one of us can say that dealing with COVID-19 for the last several months has impacted our lives. Local artist and former Carroll ISD art teacher Gayle Bunch set out to morph those feelings into art when she created her first piece about COVID-19.

When Southlake Mayor Laura Hill saw Bunch’s painting on social media, Hill commissioned her to create one for the City of Southlake.

“I always look to art when I am trying to capture a special moment in time. The pandemic has certainly not been special in the traditional sense of the word,” Hill said. “I knew the minute I saw Gayle’s piece that it was the perfect way to capture the impact of the pandemic on our citizens and most importantly, our City staff who had just been devastated by the COVID death of fellow employee Darlene Rubio.”

Hill asked City Manager Shana Yelverton, Assistant City Manager Alison Ortowski, former Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher, Fire Chief Mike Starr and Police Chief James Brandon to share their personal thoughts about the pandemic.

“Gayle turned those heartfelt words, thoughts and fears into something beyond memorable,” Hill said.

Bunch said the words used are important because the community was given new words throughout the pandemic.

“Artists record the times and that is what the painting is about. I named it Southlake Together 2020 as a tribute to what was going on and a community coming together,” she said.

Bunch said she is focused and devoted to the painting and what she wants to portray.

“A mentor told me once that the painting talks to you and tells you what it needs. That’s exactly how I approached this one,” she said. “It was truly an honor to be asked to create artwork that speaks to the community and City employees in Southlake.”

The painting incorporates the United States flag with words and phrases like “Flatten the curve,” “#southlakestrong,” “The New Normal,” “Darlene Rubio” and “Better Together.” The artwork is displayed in Town Hall.

Daniel Cortez Appointed Director of Economic Development and Tourism

Daniel Cortez, Deputy Director of Economic Development and Tourism, has been promoted to Director, effective July 1. After the departure of Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher, Cortez’s history of strong work performance, world-class professionalism and commitment to assist Southlake businesses and residents make him fit for the task to lead the Southlake economic development team.

“Daniel Cortez has many notable accomplishments under his belt,” said Assistant City Manager Alison Ortowski. “His energy, creativity, intelligence and strong people skills make him ideal for this role.”

Since 2017, Cortez has worked to implement key recommendations of the 2035 Economic Development Master Plan. He has also created and implemented a commercial site assessment project, resulting in valuable insights into Southlake’s commercial centers. He managed the City’s first Business Climate Survey to understand the local business community’s strengths and challenges, track trends and ensure the City has useful data for business support programs.

“I am humbled at the confidence the City’s leadership has in me. I look forward to continuing to serve our business community with the same tradition of excellence Southlake is known for, with new inspiration and determination to meet the challenges of the future,” Cortez said. “There is truly no place like Southlake. It is my privilege to be part of a great community and I’m excited to strengthen the City’s relationships with local businesses.”

Ortowski also highlights his business retention work, noting that “he has established strong relationships through one-on-one visits and programs he’s created to improve business engagement with the City.”

Southlake youth have also benefited from Cortez’s hard work. Through the Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership (SKIL) program, Cortez has worked with Mayor Hill and Carroll ISD to offer selected students access to local business leaders through educational seminars and internship experiences. Cortez guides the students through the program, which has been in place for three years.

Perhaps Cortez has demonstrated his strongest performance with his work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Untangling the complex and sometimes confusing information related to the various executive orders was a terrific service he was able to provide to our business customers,” noted Ortowski.  “He promoted businesses in unique and creative ways. He demonstrated a keen knowledge of the needs of our businesses and worked proactively to provide needed support.”

In his new role, Daniel will be responsible for economic development work, and will oversee the day-to-day activities of the City’s tourism and special events team.

City Approves Interlocal Agreement with Tarrant County for CARES Act Funding

The Southlake City Council approved an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement with Tarrant County during the June 2 session, to receive funding as part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

The CARES Act is designed to provide immediate economic assistance for industries and municipalities who have been impacted by COVID-19. Tarrant County received a direct allocation of an estimated $210 million and is in the process of providing grants to cities within the area.

The City of Southlake is estimated to be eligible for $1.6 million, or about $55 per capita. In order to receive the funds, the City has to enter into an interlocal cooperation agreement.

According to the grant guidelines, funds can be allocated for public health and unaccounted expenses that occurred between the time period of March 1, 2020 – December 30, 2020 and were not originally included within the City’s budget.

Terms of the agreement state the funds are only to be used on eligible expenses and cannot duplicate services. This means Tarrant County and the City cannot utilize the funds for the same service. The agreement also requires the City to submit a monthly report on how funds were allocated and for any unused funds be returned.

“We’re in the process of working the budget in detail, and that includes looking at our COVID expenses at this point and get reimbursement for what we spent, as well as project out for the remainder of what we think we will spend as it relates to fighting COVID-19,” City of Southlake CFO Sharen Jackson said during the meeting.

She said the funds will be used for local economic programs and expenses such as payroll, unemployment costs, telecommuting expenses, personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and disinfection supplies, customer service enhancements and legal fees.