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Talk of Our Towns 

Two N.C. cities join NLC goal to end veteran homelessness 

The National League of Cities announced that Winston-Salem and Charlotte have joined the Homeless Veteran Leadership Network, a national effort to challenge cities to meet the Administration's goal to end veteran homelessness in 2015.

Sixteen cities have initially signed on to the Network, meeting the Administration's recent challenge to mayors by partnering with community stakeholders and offering support for strategies to end veteran homelessness. Each Network city will aim to engage in a friendly competition with another comparable city to be the next community to achieve this goal.

The Network is co-chaired by NLC President Chris Coleman, mayor of Saint Paul, Minn., First Vice President Ralph Becker, mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah and Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, Ariz.

"It is a tragedy that even a single veteran faces homelessness after serving in our nation's armed forces," said Coleman. "I challenge all municipal leaders to engage in a friendly competition to advance creative solutions to end veteran homelessness by 2015. By partnering with both national and community stakeholders across the country, we can achieve the Administration's goal to end veteran homelessness and give back to the men and women who have sacrificed on our behalf."

In 2013, NLC helped facilitate a friendly competition between Phoenix and Salt Lake City to see which could end veteran homelessness first. Recently, both cities announced success in ending chronic veteran homelessness.

Participating cities will connect with existing and emerging efforts in their communities, form community partnerships and offer strong municipal support for strategies that put an end to veteran homelessness.

Ricky Parks named chair of North Carolina Youth Advisory Council

 Rocky Mount Patrol Sergeant Ricky Parks was appointed by Governor McCrory to chair the North Carolina Youth Advisory Council. Photo credit: City of Rocky Mount
Ricky Parks is a staunch advocate and patrol sergeant for Rocky Mount. Follow him to local businesses, and you’ll quickly learn that everyone knows and respects him. A native of Rocky Mount, Parks has more than 25 years of law enforcement experience between the Rocky Mount Police Department and the Nash County Sheriff’s Office.

As a graduate of Rocky Mount Senior High School and Coastal Plain Law Enforcement Training Academy at Wilson Community College, Parks has met members of the General Assembly and other leaders, and he’s ready to take advantage of those contacts to help youth and spread a positive message about his city.

Parks can spread that message as he takes on his most recent challenge, as chair for the North Carolina Youth Advisory Council, appointed by Governor Pat McCrory. Parks said he “almost fell out of his seat” when he received the call from McCrory’s administration.

“They told me I could be as involved as I want to be and make whatever changes I see fit.”

Parks said the main purpose of the Council is to support the mission of the state youth councils, approve funding and promote civic and community projects councils do throughout the state.

Parks is enthusiastic about the Council’s last endeavor, a Youth Mini-Grant Conference which took place one month after his appointment. During the conference, members present grant applications to the student body. The applications will then be reviewed and debated. Subsequently, a vote and a decision on whether an organization is eligible to receive the requested funding will take place. Grants are awarded annually and range from $100 to $500.

“At this conference, youth learn how to make the tough decisions at a young age. It teaches them leadership skills and allows them to make informed decisions,” Parks said. “They are being held accountable and are being frugal with taxpayer dollars.”

Parks, a member of the Council for two years before accepting his latest position, is ready to work on meeting his primary goal of marketing and spreading the word about the Council.

“One of my biggest roles is to support and advocate the work that our youth is doing, so I need to market it,” Parks said. “At every meeting held, I plan to have elected officials, members from the General Assembly and individuals from the community present so people at all levels will understand and support the positive things our youth is doing and can spread the word.”

Increasing the endowment fund to support travel and conferences for our youth leaders is another objective for Parks.

Parks does not know why he received the call that day to accept the role of chair and lead the remaining 19 members on the Council, but when asked why he believes he was chosen, he humbly replied, “I hope they would say Ricky Parks has a proven history of public service, a heart and a passion for the community and a clean reputation, especially when dealing with youth and public funding.”

AAA Carolinas names North Carolina’s 2013 Traffic Safe Communities

Topsail Beach, Laurinburg and Chapel Hill were named grand winners for the North Carolina Traffic Safe Communities for 2013 by the AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety. In addition to the grand winners, 11 localities recognized for efforts made in traffic safety over the past year.

The annual Traffic Safe Community Awards are presented in an effort to recognize those cities and towns offering programs and initiatives that make roads safer in the Carolinas. Topsail Beach, Laurinburg and Chapel Hill were chosen, respectively, for communities under 10,000 in population, those with 10,000 to 30,000 residents, and towns and cities with more than 30,000 in population.  

“The AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety continues to tackle the deadly practice of texting while driving, especially among teen drivers, a group who has grown up continuously connected to cell phones and computers,” said Angela Vogel Daley, president of AAA Carolinas Traffic Safety Foundation.

Traffic safe communities are selected by looking at crash statistics, number of law enforcement officers per capita and presence of formal traffic safety programs. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte provided the statistical analysis and the AAA Carolinas Foundation chose winners in each category giving extra emphasis to those communities that are proactive in enhancing traffic safety efforts.

Major Patricia Poole from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and Bob Stevens from the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program honored local law enforcement and community representatives.

The foundation recognized 11 other communities with Outstanding Traffic Safe Community awards for leadership in traffic safety. Cities with a population greater than 30,000 that received the award are: Cary, Apex, Wilson and Kannapolis; cities with a population between 10,000 and 30,000 are: Holly Springs, Cornelius and Tarboro; and cities with a population less than 10,000 are: Caswell Beach, Highlands, Tryon and Oakboro.

North Carolina Tourism Trailblazers receive Winner’s Circle awards from Governor

Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development presented Charlotte Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble with a Winner’s Circle award, which given annually since 2004 to people who have made significant and continuing contributions to the growth and success of North Carolina’s tourism industry. Richard Petty, charter member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and Horace Holden, Aurelia Kennedy and Payson Kennedy, founders of the Nantahala Outdoor Center, were also honored with the award.

Charlotte Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble accepts an award from Governor McCrory at the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Winner's Circle Awards. Photo credit: North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports
“We congratulate this year’s recipients for their lasting impact on tourism in the state,” said McCrory. “Tourism is such an important economic driver for us, and it’s visionaries like these who have helped develop all the diverse and unique attractions we enjoy in North Carolina. Tourism is an industry that touches every county in North Carolina.”

Kimble has been a force in establishing new signatures of Queen City tourism. Kimble, whose responsibilities encompass hospitality and tourism, economic development, redevelopment and intergovernmental relations, joined the city staff in 2000, while McCrory was mayor. Kimble led initiatives including the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Levine Center for the Arts, AAA Baseball, the U.S. National Whitewater Center and the N.C. Music Factory. Most recently, he helped negotiate to bring the 2014 Triple-A National Championship Game to BB&T Ballpark, the Charlotte Knights’ soon-to-open stadium. Kimble, who earned degrees in Accounting and Business Administration from University of Kansas, served 10 years as Greenville’s city manager before moving to Charlotte.

Gov. McCrory participated in the Winner’s Circle awards luncheon in Charlotte as part of the three-day Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The state’s largest gathering of the tourism industry brings together nearly 500 leaders from resorts, attractions, destination marketing organizations, hotels/motels, real estate rental companies, restaurants and retail outlets each year to learn about the latest trends and issues facing the travel industry.

Local governments receive Excellence in Communications Awards

Eleven North Carolina governments earned recognition at the 7th North Carolina City and County Communicators’ Excellence in Communications Awards presented March 20 at the Hilton Garden Inn at Kitty Hawk Pier House as part of the Communicators’ annual spring conference. Almost 40 entries were received, with one category having the first place winner determined by one point.

“Our organization is full of city and county government communicators who are excellent at what they do. They are innovative, creative, passionate, dedicated, and that shows in their work,” said organization President and Pitt County Director of Public Information and Media Relations Kiara Jones. “It was an honor to preside over the program, and I look forward to seeing the great work that these individuals will present next year. They deserve recognition for the wonderful work they’ve done.”

Categories included TV and Videos, Communication Technology, Special Events, Printed Publications, Most Creative Project for the Least Amount of Funds, Citizen Participation, Community Visioning and Marketing Tools.

The winners were Buncombe County, City of Rocky Mount, Dare County, Town of Chapel Hill, City of Raleigh, Wake County, City of Morganton, Town of Garner, Union County, Town of Apex, and City of Durham.

Judges for the awards were government communication professionals from Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon and North Carolina. Each judge previously won state or national awards.

The purpose of North Carolina City and County Communicators is to encourage professional development and networking among local governmental communications professionals. The organization was formed in 2007 and is made up of government professional communicators from around the state. For more information about the organization, visit the website,