Monday, September 21, 2020

Behind the Scenes at Stars & Stripes

For almost 20 years thousands of people have descended on Town Square to enjoy a family-fun, patriotic event, complete with food, music, and fireworks. The annual event is one of the largest coordinated by the City and requires the good work of numerous employees and volunteers to ensure it is fun and safe for everyone.

The exciting aspects of the event can overshadow the very important, behind-the-scenes work of some of Southlake’s most dedicated employees who provide non-public safety traffic control and staff the street barricades.

“It would be impossible to host Stars & Stripes without our park, recreation and public works employees who are stationed at important locations within the environment,” said Chris Tribble, Director of Community Services. “They are the unsung heroes of the event. We literally couldn’t do it without them.”

Working in the sweltering heat is a challenge, but turning someone away on a closed street can lead to some unpleasant encounters. The team is more than equipped to handle anything that may come up, professionally and positively.

“All of our employees do a great job ensuring that we have a super event for Independence Day, but some don’t get to do the exciting work,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “We’re very appreciative of those who help out in any way needed.”

For their Stars & Stripes work that may go unnoticed, members of Parks and Recreation (Community Services), Public Works and Planning & Development Services Departments have been selected as this quarter’s unsung heroes. A big thank you to them all!



Unsung Hero: Vickie DeWees Is Steady & Determined, With a Big Heart

Most days you will find Vickie DeWees processing paperwork in her cubicle in Town Hall, ensuring that payments are made accurately and timely for the goods and services purchased by the City.

With over 7,000 payments processed during a fiscal year, this is no small job, but Vickie manages it all with a sense of urgency and efficiency, a strong commitment to customer service and, most days, a dash of humor. Her ready smile and hearty laughter are clearly one of the reasons it’s so much fun to work in Finance Administration.

But in late November, early December, Vickie transforms into an organizational leader, directing a City holiday service project with conviction and military precision.

For more than 15 years, Vickie has organized a voluntary food and gift drive through Christmas Providers, a non-profit organization that facilitates an “adopt-a-family” program. Vickie is the liaison to the organization, coordinates staff volunteers to purchase and wrap gifts and collect food items, shops for needed items, and coordinates with the selected family. For the past several years, the City of Southlake staff has adopted at least two of the larger families in need due to the generosity of staff throughout the organization.

Vickie’s work has inspired other departments to adopt additional families through Christmas Providers as well. The Community Services, Planning & Development Services, and Public Works Departments are now adopting families through the program, largely due to the inspiration that Vickie has provided.

And, if that were not enough, Vickie personally adopts a family! Christmas Providers is fortunate to work with such a giving and kind volunteer. (Note: Vickie also generously gives to charitable programs sponsored by her church, and on holidays might be found handing out needed items to the homeless. Her kindness really knows no bounds.)

For her steady and efficient work as the City’s Accounts Payable Clerk, the leadership she provides for our voluntary service project, and her wonderful attitude, Vickie has been selected as one of the City’s important unsung heroes.

Unassuming Facilities Manager Energetically Cares for City’s Physical Plant

He may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but he can certainly keep them efficiently-maintained, clean and functional. Kurt Ackermann ensures that everything with the City’s physical plant is well cared for and runs smoothly, protecting the significant public investment in office buildings, public safety stations, parking garages, and other municipal facilities.

With over 800,000 square feet of facilities to manage today, and 80,000 more coming when The Marq-Champions Club opens next year, Ackermann and his team have a big responsibility. Fortunately, his technical experience and customer service mindset are conducive to first-rate work.

“I’ve worked with Kurt on a number of projects,” said Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher. “In every case he has energetically worked to get the job done quickly and to a quality standard expected. You can count on him to see a project to its conclusion with a smile and a great attitude, even while handling ongoing responsibilities.”

Public Works Director, Rob Cohen agrees. “He’s really an outstanding employee,” said Cohen. “Kurt is always on the go, competently managing a variety of projects and tasks at any given moment. He continually provides great service, and manages timely execution while minimizing impact to staff productivity. I also appreciate the way he keeps a keen eye on the bottom line.”

Ackermann began working with the City of Southlake in January 2012. Since then, he has led his team to:

  • manage all corrective and preventative maintenance actions for municipal buildings,
  • update aging finish outs, like replacing carpet and refreshing paint,
  • oversee small renovations,
  • coordinate large and small repairs, and
  • plan for future needs.

“In spite of a heavy work load, Kurt always displays a positive attitude, remains flexible, and responds quickly,” said Cohen. “He does these things with little to no fanfare, going about his day-to-day business with a focus on doing a great job for the City of

Although Kurt Ackermann’s work is doesn’t always attract public attention, it is vital to City operations. For his outstanding performance, exceptional attitude, and modest demeanor, Kurt Ackermann has been selected as one of the City’s important unsung heroes.