June 12, 2019
The City of Huntington on Wednesday, June 12, unveiled a new program that aims to provide first responders with self-care tools that will improve their ability to cope in high-stress situations.
The program, known as Compass, is funded through a $1 million award that the City of Huntington received in October 2018 from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ U.S. Mayors Challenge. The yearlong competition challenged city leaders to uncover and test bold, inventive ideas to confront the toughest challenges faced by cities today. Huntington was one of nine U.S. cities to receive $1 million to begin implementation of their solutions.
Huntington leaders saw the competition as an opportunity to address compassion fatigue within its ranks of police officers and firefighters. Compassion fatigue is a condition characterized by a lessening of compassion over time among individuals who work directly with trauma victims. This can negatively affect a first responder’s morale, wellness, family life, job satisfaction, mental health and client sympathy.
While community leaders have come together in Huntington to address the opioid epidemic and provide assistance to individuals suffering from substance use disorder, there has been a growing need to develop a widely-used model for first-responder assistance, Mayor Steve Williams said.
“Through focus groups and feedback from our police officers and firefighters, we learned very quickly that the high-stress situations of being on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic required a new way of thinking about how we take care of the people who take care of us every day,” Williams said. “Compass will enable our first responders to become part of the decision-making process in developing self-care, training and mental health resources for overcoming compassion fatigue.”
The Compass program will be multifaceted and will include a variety of trainings and policy changes that will benefit the wellness of first responders; wellness coordinators embedded in the police department and fire stations; a state-of-the-art wellness center; and self-care classes and activities for first responders and their families.
Amy Berner has assumed the position as program manager for Compass. She will be responsible for program execution and evaluation, direction of project support staff, and the maintenance of required records and quarterly reports.
The Compass model will be used to address compassion fatigue not just for the opioid epidemic, but for all crises that responders face, such as natural disasters, school shootings and fires, Berner said.
“I am so excited about working on the Compass project because I believe that creating a replicable model of wellness and self-care for first responders can help not only the members of the Huntington community, but a variety of communities facing similar, high-stress situations like the opioid epidemic,” she said.
For more information about Compass, visit the program’s website at www.CompassHuntington.com.
June 10, 2019
The Huntington Municipal Development Authority (HMDA) voted Monday, June 10, to appoint Cathy Burns as the agency’s next executive director.
Burns, who is the city manager for the City of Huntington, will officially begin her duties as HMDA executive director and relinquish her duties as city manager on July 1. She will lead an agency that has been and will continue to be a key player in efforts to revitalize more than 50 acres of former industrial property in the city’s Highlawn neighborhood.
“We are embarking upon the most important economic opportunity for our city in more than half a century. The next five years will determine our next 50 years. We must have the most capable and qualified person to guide us through these waters,” said Mayor Steve Williams, a HMDA board member who nominated Burns to become executive director during the meeting. “Cathy Burns possesses the skills, experience and temperament to help us navigate through a complicated, ambitious and sophisticated economic revitalization plan. The citizens of our region are fortunate that she has accepted this challenge.”
The Municipal Development Authority’s purpose is to foster capital investment in Huntington and contribute to the creation and retention of jobs. The agency also enables city government to use certain assets owned by the city for the specific purpose of attracting additional capital and industry.
Burns has served as city manager since June 28, 2016. She also has an extensive background in economic development and building relationships with the business community.
She began her career as an administrative assistant in the Mayor’s Office from 1985 to 1988 and then spent nearly 11 years as the director of the Department of Development and Planning.
Burns left City Hall in 2000 to become executive director of the Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone, a position she also held for nearly 11 years. She was hired as the workforce
recruiter for RCBI in 2011 before she was named president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in September 2013. She remained with the Chamber until she began her stint as city manager in June 2016.
“This is an exciting time to be joining HMDA as the executive director and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Burns said. “HMDA board members are prepared to take bold economic development strategies and I’m pleased to help them fulfill their mission.
“My work as the city manager and 20 years of regional economic and workforce development experience will allow me to build upon established partnerships for new site development and job creation.”
“I am thrilled that Cathy Burns agreed to accept this challenge,” HMDA President Bob Adkins added. “She has an institutional memory and breadth of experience that will enable her to hit the ground running. Those who have worked with her know that she won’t stop running until she reaches the goal line.”
The Municipal Development Authority purchased 8 acres of the former Flint Group Pigments property located on the north side of 5th Avenue at 24th Street in February and authorized its executive committee to enter into a purchase-and-sales agreement for the acquisition of approximately 42 acres of the former ACF property for $3.125 million on Monday. The deal is expected to be finalized sometime this summer. The land is proposed to be transformed into mixed-use development space known as the Highlawn Business Innovation Zone (H-BIZ).
Among the plans for H-BIZ is a baseball stadium for Marshall University.
The acquisition of these properties is also a key component of the Huntington Innovation Plan (HIP) that city leaders submitted to the America’s Best Communities competition. Huntington was named the winner of the nationwide competition and the recipient of a $3 million grand prize in April 2017.
May 16, 2019
The City of Huntington and Honeywell on May 16, 2019, announced the third phase of a 15-year energy savings performance contract (ESPC), which in all three phases is expected to save approximately $4.8 million in total operating costs for the city.
This current phase includes a comprehensive LED lighting system upgrade aimed at improving overall energy efficiency and occupant comfort levels, all while helping to reduce maintenance frequency. The LED lighting technology will be complemented with occupancy sensors across portions of the facilities to automatically control the lighting. In addition, HVAC system improvements and a control system upgrade will be made at City Hall. The improvements under this phase are expected to generate approximately $112,000 in annual energy and operational savings.
"The upgrades and improvements we’re working on with Honeywell will improve lighting in most of our buildings and help reduce operational costs and energy consumption citywide," said Huntington Mayor Steve Williams. "We’re encouraged that work under the third phase of the project will again be supported by expected energy and operational savings. This limits taxpayer costs and the need for upfront capital investment."
The current project scope will cover 14 buildings, including: City Hall, Big Sandy Superstore Arena, Huntington Police Department, A.D. Lewis Community Center, Fairfield East Community Center, Safety Town, Centennial Fire Station No. 1, Guyandotte Fire Station No. 5, Westmoreland Fire Station No. 8, University Fire Station No. 2, John W. Gallagher Fire Station No. 10, St. Cloud Fire Station No. 4 and the Public Works Department’s Traffic Building. This phase of the contract is expected to be completed in September 2019.
The lighting system upgrade at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in particular will create a more comfortable environment and a more welcoming facility for hosting events. It will help assist in addressing the facility’s need for more flexible lighting technology and the current challenges of accommodating different lighting scenes. The LED lighting and controls technology will enable quicker adjustments to the lighting conditions and operate more efficiently than the former system.
"We are focused on bringing energy savings and enhanced comfort levels to Huntington residents and employees through these city facility enhancements," said Wayne Kent, vice president and general manager Americas of Honeywell Building Solutions. "Project upgrades, specifically at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, will help to attract a wider variety of events, while optimizing energy consumption and comfort levels in some of the city’s most critical facilities – including the police department and fire stations."
The first and second phases involved facility upgrades, including lighting retrofits, mechanical and controls improvements, domestic water conservation efforts, traffic signal retrofits as well as building repairs.
May 13, 2019
Mayor Steve Williams' presented a detailed summary to City Council's Finance Committee on Monday, May 13, showing how the City Service Fee has been collected, spent and accounted for correctly since the fee was established by a previous mayoral administration in 2002.
Williams noted during the meeting that both annual independent audits and state audits conducted during the 17 years of the fee's existence have never cited the city for collecting, spending or accounting for the fee incorrectly.
City Manager Cathy Burns and Finance Director Kathy Moore also presented information showing how the fee, which is designated for "police protection and traffic and street maintenance and other valuable services associated with the police department and public works department," as stated in the City Service Fee ordinance, is placed into the city's general fund, as prescribed as the correct fund to place the fee into by state code. The fee revenue is also placed into its own account in the general fund as required by the West Virginia State Auditor's Uniform Chart of Accounts.
Burns added that of the seven West Virginia cities that assess a City Service Fee, six of those cities -- Charleston, Morgantown, Madison, Fairmont, Weirton and Huntington -- place the fee revenue into accounts within their respective general funds.
Public Works Director Jim Insco also presented information to show that the city has spent on $11,315,469 on street construction projects -- paving, road slip repairs, bridge repairs and culvert replacements -- between 2013 and this year. Click here to view a detailed breakdown of these street construction projects by year.
Police Chief Hank Dial also informed committee members that since fiscal year 2014, $28,623447 in City Service Fee revenue has been allocated to the Huntington Police Department. That amount represents 36.1 percent of the Police Department's operating expenses between fiscal year 2014 and this current fiscal year.
March 11, 2019
Mayor Steve Williams will resume his community walks through Huntington’s neighborhoods this spring in an effort to motivate residents to become more active.
Williams will kick off the fall 2019 edition of “Walks with the Mayor” on Monday, March 18, in Westmoreland. He will meet residents at 5:30 p.m. at the Westmoreland Women's Club, 2962 Bradley Road, and set out on a walk through the neighborhood. Representatives of the Huntington Water Quality Board and Police, Fire, Public Works, and Development and Planning departments will also attend.
The neighborhood walks began in 2015. Since then, Williams and representatives of the Police, Fire and Public Works departments have walked through each of the nine City Council districts at least seven times.
“This is a great way to demonstrate to the community that we should get outside more and see firsthand the concerns that our neighbors have,” Williams said. “City Hall isn’t just a building at the corner of 5th Avenue and 8th Street. I want our residents to know that I’m willing to walk the extra mile to hear and see how their neighborhoods can be improved.”
The Mayor’s Office is working with City Council members and neighborhood associations to establish starting points and routes for the walks.
The current schedule for the neighborhood walks this spring is as follows (schedule subject to change due to weather and other factors):
February 6, 2019
December 24, 2018
December 10, 2018
October 29, 2018
October 23, 2018
October 8, 2018
July 16, 2018
July 10, 2018
July 10, 2018
June 11, 2018
May 14, 2018
May 9, 2018
April 26, 2018
April 18, 2018
March 13, 2018
March 13, 2018
February 27, 2018
February 15, 2018
February 9, 2018
January 8, 2018
December 1, 2017
October 24, 2017
October 19, 2017
October 10, 2017
September 25, 2017
September 25, 2017
August 28, 2017
July 24, 2017
June 6, 2017
May 25, 2017
May 10, 2017
April 12, 2017
February 22, 2017
February 10, 2017
January 24, 2017
January 18, 2017
January 9, 2017
January 3, 2017
October 5, 2016
September 28, 2016
September 14, 2016
August 8, 2016
July 29, 2016
May 19, 2016
April 28, 2016
March 28, 2016
March 7, 2016
February 8, 2016
January 13, 2016
December 17, 2015
October 27, 2015
July 23, 2015
July 8, 2015
July 7, 2015
June 29, 2015
April 29, 2015
March 9, 2015
January 28, 2015
January 8, 2015