City of Johnson City, Tennessee 2021 Annual Report
GO. ALL. OUT. FREEDOM HALL FREEDOM HALL
Fiscal year 2021 was – come on, let’s all say it together – an unprecedented time. Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 turned local government operations upside down. Ever-increasing case numbers, executive orders, openings, closures, restrictions, rules, regulations ... the world was challenging to navigate to say the least. But as the year pressed on, opportunities emerged. We adapted. We found new ways. Ingenuity quickly replaced uncertainty. In spite of every obstacle, City services never ceased and in some cases, became more efficient. No City employees lost their jobs and for some, their work processes improved. City leadership and staff were presented countless complications and rose to the occasion every time. From online plans review and permitting in Development Services to 55,555 meals delivered by bus drivers to numerous facility improvements that could be made while buildings were empty, our employees WENT. ALL. OUT. to make the most of trying times. After all, you know what they say about when life hands you lemons...
BUDGET AND FINANCE
Opposite are revenue and expense charts for FY 21. These are for the General Fund only. General Fund revenues total $99,997,806. General Fund operating expenses, as represented by the expenses chart, total $64,594,895. In addition to this, transfers to other funds from the General Fund total $24,494,048. These transfer dollars include the City’s contribution to schools, as well as funding for capital equipment and projects, the debt service fund, and mass transit. *These numbers are based on the unaudited June 2021 financial statements. The City continues to be in a strong financial position thanks to excellent fiscal management and a vibrant local economy. The City maintains a credit rating of AA from Standard and Poor’s and Fitch, and a Aa2 rating from Moody’s. General Fund debt service payments make up 11 percent of total expenditures and transfers out, with total outstanding general obligation debt well within City charter guidelines. The City continues to maintain a two-month rainy day reserve. Johnson City’s property tax rate is $1.71 per $100 property value, making it one of the lowest in the region. The Finance Department has been instrumental in the planning and development phase of transitioning to a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system. Finance staff are also heavily involved in the planning and development phase of a new property tax software and point of sale software. Finance staff completed the stringent tracking and reporting requirements that resulted in the City receiving a significant amount of COVID-19 funding from the federal government. Ongoing reporting with the treasury department will continue through 2024. In October 2020, the City’s FY 19 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report was awarded the Government Finance Officers Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. This was the 19th consecutive year for receiving the award.
While the pandemic certainly affected commercial construction, residential development permitting exceeded the prior 18 months in Johnson City. While many were stuck at home – and had stimulus money coming in – they opted to tackle home improvement projects. When City Hall was closed to the public, permitting and plans review shifted to an online portal. A lasting benefit from that time is that the development community and staff have embraced online operations, and the portal remains the primary method of permit application. Other accomplishments in FY 2021 include: • Completion and adoption by both the Regional Planning Commission and City Commission of the Bridge Plan, an in-depth review of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and re-adoption for a five-year “bridge” period that will allow Census 2020 data to be obtained and for robust post-COVID public engagement prior to development of new plan. • Contracting with two out-of-town professional planners – one from Charlotte and one from Knoxville – to address staffing needs in a remote world. • Promotion of two critical Development Services positions with Will Righter tapped as the new development coordinator and Jeff Canon as the new chief building official. • A focus on technical training of permit counter staff to enable them to better address incoming inquiries and requests and to avoid bottlenecks created by information being passed to other staff.
MASS TRANSIT Mass Transit experienced a 30-40 percent reduction in ridership (305,532 total) due to COVID but never ceased or reduced operations. The East Tennessee State University Bucshot went from more than 200,000 in ridership to less than 5,000. Transit instituted strict cleaning and safety measures with all buses disinfected between each 30-minute run and filtration systems cleaned daily. Each vehicle had a plastic partition to protect the driver from passengers when boarding. Drivers and passengers were required to wear masks. Modifications to the Transit building included upgraded HVAC filters and installation of UV light air treatment units. Receipt of COVID Cares Act funds, which were 100 percent reimbursable with no required local or state match, helped Transit with daily operations as they accomplished the following in FY 2021: • Replaced nine low-floor, 23-passenger, two-wheelchair buses, completing Transit’s current replacement schedule for Mass Transit buses. • Replaced three parartransit buses with three, 25-foot, low-floor paratransit buses. Expected delivery is early March 2022. • Installed/replaced three passenger benches at stops along Johnson City Transit fixed routes.
SCHOOL TRANSIT School Transit had a non-traditional school year, with closures significantly impacting ridership (925,251 total riders; 524,739 service miles). When buses were running, Transit went above and beyond standard safety precautions. Each vehicle was disinfected daily with an electrostatic sprayer, each driver was equipped with a KN95 mask, all students were required to wear masks on the bus, and windows were cracked open to allow ventilation. And when buses weren’t hauling children, they were feeding them. School bus driving staff stepped up to deliver multiple meals daily for students attending virtually … 55,555 total! Additionally, School Transit purchased and received five large school buses and three small school buses.
Water and Sewer Services (WSS) are two of the most critical and essential functions for a community. Johnson City is proud to report that its delivery of those services was not impeded or interrupted throughout the many COVID challenges of FY 21. Staff modified protocols and processes to minimize both customer and employee exposure and transmission. The year was yet another award-winning one for the department with the following achieved during FY 21: • • • • •
Full regulatory compliance with state and federal requirements at water treatment plants Full regulatory compliance with state and federal requirements at wastewater treatment plants Six national and state wastewater awards Completion of Risk & Resiliency Evaluation and Emergency Response Plan Continued multi-year efforts in water maintenance activities including line replacement, meter replacement, valve operation, line flushing, and water booster station maintenance • Continued multi-year efforts in wastewater collection system activities including line TVing and cleaning, line repairs and rehabilitation, and lift station maintenance • Meter reading and customer service with a high level of accuracy • Receiving and processing various new service requests and plans review Continued WSS Capital Delivery Plan with the following accomplishments: CONSTRUCTION • Lower Brush Creek Interceptor Contract I • Buttermilk Road Water Line Replacement • Brush Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Aeration Project Replacement • Upper Reedy Creek Interceptor Contract I & II • Tank Recoating • Rehabilitation of Downtown Buffalo Street Interceptor • Neighborhood Galvanized Water Line Replacement • Unicoi Spring House Replacement • Steel Water Tank Rehabilitation • SB Generator Installation at Regional Station U
PLANNING AND DESIGN • New Service Center Complex • West Walnut Street Utility Replacement • 2009 Pressure Zone Water Transmission Line Design • Regional Collection System Improvements
While police officers are accustomed to working in dangerous and often uncomfortable conditions, the ever-present threat of COVID-19 made 2021 especially challenging. The Johnson City Police Department’s (JCPD) 153 sworn officers expertly navigated unique challenges of the pandemic and successfully modified operations to protect themselves, citizens, and visitors. Operating the eighth largest Police Department in the state of Tennessee, JCPD serves within the City’s 44 square miles of territory and along more than 506 miles of roadways. In addition to law enforcement officers, 28 civilian employees serve the public and the JCPD in records, administrative, and other support functions. The Police Department’s dedicated workforce provides quality services to the community through innovative programs, advanced technologies, and responsible policing. JCPD continually evaluates new technologies and techniques for improving its services and to keep our city a safe and secure place to live, work, and play. The JCPD tracks crime-related statistics that include reporting of Group A Crimes, a nationwide metric that the department publicly submits monthly to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), which is used to gauge the volume and rate of crimes within a community. In FY 2021, Johnson City saw a 9.5 percent decrease in Group A Crimes from the prior year. During the same period, JCPD reported a 57.2 percent clearance rate of Group A Crimes. Most notably, the department achieved an 81.5 percent clearance rate for Crimes Against Persons. Officers responded to 73,026 911 calls for service or officer initiated interactions in FY 21, averaging 200 calls/ interactions per day. JCPD’s response time to emergency (Priority 3) calls averaged 4 minutes and 34 seconds. The overall decreasing crime rate can largely be attributed to a combination of good policing and community involvement. JCPD recognizes the significance and effectiveness of this combined approach and is committed to supporting new and existing programs that strengthen partnerships between officers and citizens. During FY 2021, JCPD continued its prioritization of recruitment efforts and successfully hired 10 new police officer trainees. In addition to recruitment, advanced training remains a top priority within the department. In FY21 JCPD sent an investigator to Cellebrite Digital Intelligence School, saw two graduate from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Advance Forensic Techniques in Crime Scene Training, and had one individual attend the American International Institute of Polygraph Training. In an attempt to deepen relationships and to address concerns highlighted by events in national media, the JCPD introduced mandatory diversity training for all officers taught by Dr. Daryl Carter, the associate dean and director of Black American Studies at East Tennessee State University. These efforts demonstrate JCPD’s commitment to continuously adapt to the needs, challenges, and opportunities of Johnson City’s citizenry.
With the onset of COVID-19 came a barrage of unprecedented purchase requisitions along with an influx of federal funds. City staff were faced with a wide array of new purchasing requests for personal protective equipment and signage at the same time as departments were reassigning staff to perform construction and maintenance on facilities that were closed to the public. With the increased number of requisitions, funding guidelines, and staff inquiries, Purchasing staff made excellent use of their limited time and resources to ensure the accurate and timely delivery of goods, services, and information to fellow employees and vendors. The department successfully processed approximately $89 million in contracts for goods and services, representing a 122.5 percent increase over FY 20, with another $3 million in small purchases. This increased activity also required setting up accounts with 69 new vendors. Quarantine restrictions on operations presented other unforeseen challenges including a mandate to transition all bidding and requests for proposals to an online portal. This welcomed transition has realized gains in efficiency for the department and vendors and will remain an offering of the department for the foreseeable future. Purchasing staff also managed to facilitate auctions of surplus vehicles and equipment to realize an additional $305,000 in net proceeds for the year. The whole of Johnson City’s Purchasing staff is nationally certified in Public Procurement, a feat that directly reflects the department’s enduring commitment to excellence.
The Risk Management department integrates risk recognition and assessment, development of strategies to manage risk, and mitigation of risk through the use of managerial resources to handle risks in a cost-effective manner. Activities include administration of liability and workers’ compensation self-insurance programs, property and casualty insurance programs, contractual liability, loss prevention, and TOSHA compliance programs. A proactive approach to safety awareness is provided through workplace safety audits, worksite inspections, train-the-trainer programs, and other safety-related training programs designed to enable departments to achieve TOSHA regulatory compliance and reduce the number and severity (cost) of employee accidents and injuries. Success of these programs is demonstrated on the graphs to the right. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to place special demands upon the department as staff adapted processes to serve the needs of customers during a time when the worksite was rapidly changing and resources to ensure a safe workplace were in high demand with very limited availability. Risk Management was assigned the responsibility for procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitizing products for all departments to ensure essential services could continue to be safely provided. Other COVID-19 related activities included: • • • • • • •
Development of safe work plans and environments Adjusting physical workspaces Addressing employee concerns about workplaces Obtaining and distributing PPE Mitigation of COVID-19 transmission risks TOSHA compliance Mitigation of cybersecurity risks
Workers’ Compensation Number of Claims
Workers’ Compensation Severity
The Johnson City Juvenile Court is tasked with providing for the care, protection, and development of children as well as the protection of our community at large. COVID-19 posed significant challenges to this end but staff succeeded in maintaining operations without negatively impacting service levels by hosting meetings and proceedings online, staggering in-person appointments to maintain social distancing, and diligently disinfecting facilities. • Juvenile Court continued to conduct in-person hearings for those persons who were able to be present safely. Children and adults also have had the opportunity to participate in hearings virtually by audiovisual means (WebEx and ZoomPro) or by telephone conference based on their circumstances. Technology in the courtroom allows those participating by audiovisual means as well as the individuals, attorneys, witnesses, and other participants who are physically present in the courtroom to see and hear everyone else and fully participate in the hearing. • Juvenile Court has continued to ensure that all persons who seek information about filing petitions with the Juvenile Court can do so regardless of their financial status or ability to hire an attorney. Dependency and neglect proceedings filed by relatives of children, unruly petitions filed by parents of children, and custody proceedings filed by unmarried parents are examples of individuals who often need assistance in filing a petition without an attorney. During 2021, 873 individuals who had questions about the Juvenile Court were able to meet under safety protocols with court employees to receive answers to their questions resulting in 312 of those members of the public initiating proceedings about children in the Juvenile Court. Some of the safety protocols in place at Juvenile Court include having meetings outside the building while maintaining appropriate social distancing, wearing masks, and wearing gloves, if appropriate. • During 2021, a total of 1,713 petitions and citations were filed. Petitioners included the Department of Children’s Services, the Johnson City Police Department, the Johnson City School System, Child Support Enforcement, Ballad Health, parents, relatives, and members of the public. • Probation services for youth who committed delinquent or unruly offenses were made available for 191 youth in 2021. The four Juvenile Court probation officers have continued to adapt the ways they monitor and communicate with youth who are assigned to them on probation. More frequent telephone communication and audio-visual conferences between the youth and probation officers instead of always having face-to-face meetings in the office setting ensured that youth were monitored appropriately. Probation officers were able to make needs and risk assessments for youth on probation and to make 62 referrals for Family Crisis Intervention and Prevention, individual counseling, and alcohol and drug counseling in order to make a youth’s rehabilitation more effective. Last year, 107 youth were able to be released successfully from probation and many will be eligible for expungement of the underlying offense due to their successful completion of probation. • Youth who had involvement with the Juvenile Court in 2021 successfully documented their completion of 2,748 hours of community service hours with nonprofit organizations including One Acre Café, Carver Park, the Salvation Army, Girls Inc., and many area churches, as well as for elderly citizens and disabled persons. All of the youth who were successfully released from probation in 2021 completed all of their community service hour requirements.
The Facilities Management department oversees maintenance and construction projects for approximately 1.1 million square feet within 108 City facilities. The department completed 1,082 work orders in FY 21 and was involved in multiple capital construction projects. While COVID-19 presented a number of challenges for department staff, it also provided a unique opportunity to complete work in facilities that were unoccupied due to quarantine/social distancing requirements. Capital projects completed for Fiscal Year 2021: • South Side Elementary School – Construction of four new second story classrooms (approximately 6,700 square feet), improved foyer security, and added an ADA playground component with an estimated budget of $1.7 million • Rotary Park restroom – Construction of ADA-compliant restroom facility for patrons of splash pad and playground • Liberty Bell Middle School gym and cafeteria addition – A $10.5 million new construction addition consisting of a 1,300-seat gymnasium, a 350seat capacity cafeteria, and state-of-the-art commercial kitchen • Johnson City Public Library – Replacement of 22-year-old roof/guttering • Cherokee Elementary School – New roof decking on bus canopy along front of school • Topper Academy Alternative Learning School – New EPDM roofing system over gym and cafeteria • City Hall security upgrades – Installation of bullet-resistant glass and panels for customer service windows at Finance, Water and Sewer Services, Human Resources, and switchboard Capital projects started in Fiscal Year 2021 and ongoing for Fiscal Year 2022: • Solid Waste baler canopy – Construction of a 40’ x 60’ canopy attached to the front of the large cardboard recycling building for equipment and product protection from the elements • Indian Trail Intermediate School – Additions and alterations to existing school to construct approximately 6,000-square-foot storage addition, improve foyer security, and remodel 16 existing classrooms into science labs to align with schools master plan of converting Indian Trail to a middle school by Fall 2022 • Lake Ridge Elementary School – Construction of eight new classrooms (approximately 14,500 square feet), extensive site work, foyer security, and an ADA playground component with an estimated budget of $4.7 million
At the onset of the pandemic, Parks and Recreation (P&R) facilities and associated programming shut down completely. Staff faced numerous challenges including how to prevent the furloughing of employees, how to safely modify outdoor programming services, and how to best protect employees and patrons while working at and visiting parks. Playgrounds were closed and new signage was installed at each of the City’s 24 parks promoting social distancing practices. Staff were reassigned to monitor parks and encourage social distancing while paying particular attention to the most frequently visited locations. Specialized sanitation equipment was purchased and deployed to disinfect as many surfaces as possible across all P&R facilities. In an attempt to keep all 100 of P&R’s regular full-time employees on staff, two-thirds were re-assigned to new areas with an emphasis on making facility and park improvements that normally could not have occurred during regularly scheduled programming. Remaining staff were sent to assist in other areas of the City: City Hall custodial, Juvenile Court custodial, Facilities Management ADA Assessments, Golf, and Development Services. Temporary staffing was reduced to 18, down significantly from the average 150-200 temporary employees on staff. An unexpected benefit was realized in the tremendous savings for the payroll which were redirected to fund unscheduled maintenance. As facilities were closed and events canceled, staff were able to paint the interior and exterior of outdoor restrooms, concession stands, and maintenance facilities. The Winged Deer Park boardwalk was pressure washed, stained, and new hand-railing and pedestrian lighting were installed. This work resulted in the beautification of nearly all Parks and Recreation facilities with a total of 22 buildings and/or pavilions having been repainted. Staff reassignments also afforded supervisors insight into hidden talents of their employees; all of whom rolled up their sleeves and pitched in. The renewed condition of improved facilities are a clear testament to the quality of their work and the pride they took in accomplishing it. Additional accomplishments of the Parks and Recreation department follow: • The department was awarded Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Healthy Place Grant ($750K) to construct a new playground within Kiwanis Park. • The community, master gardeners and staff began renovations of the Community Gardens at Carver Recreation Center. Once complete, upwards of 70 beds will be available to the community. Staff will utilize the gardens to teach area youth about the importance of gardening. A Little Library was also installed at the center, with books frequently changed out for use by patrons. • Park Services continued improvements of the playing surfaces at Civitan and Winged Deer parks by sodding and continuing to follow an aggressive top-dressing plan. • Park Services staff installed new flooring in the card room at Memorial Park Community Center while Recreation Services staff painted hallways and the recreation office. A new ventilation system was installed at the Memorial Park pool. • Two new portable restroom units were purchased using COVID funding. • New restroom facilities were constructed at the Rotary Park Playground/Splash Pad. • The Natural Adventure Area playground at King Commons was completed. • Pine Oaks Learning Center was completed and has since been used by more than 9,200 visitors. • The City’s first recirculating splash pad opened at Carver Park. • Park Services staff poured a concrete pad and installed a new bike station and kiosk at Winged Deer Park. • A new storage facility was constructed at the Willow Springs dog park. Paving improvements to the walking trail were made there as well.
While the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the threats viruses pose to any given population, the City’s Information Technology (IT) staff were already working diligently to mitigate the risks posed by different types of viruses - those designed to compromise computers and networks. In an effort to strengthen cybersecurity resources and associated training, IT staff accomplished the following improvements: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Implemented Cisco Umbrella. (URL filtering and DNS reputation-based security services) Implemented Duo multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all external remote access. Citrix VPN hardened configuration for vendor access. (MFA required for all vendor connections.) Implemented MFA for all server interactive logins. Streamlined/standardized PC imaging process. Reviewed and hardened external perimeter firewall rules. Set up AI-based network monitoring of all firewall traffic that uses machine learning and AI to detect threats from edge firewalls. Implemented Microsoft tiered administrative model to minimize control and secure the use of privileged accounts to minimize privilege escalation scenarios. Implemented Varonis platform. (Threat detection, mitigation, and response improves data governance on shared data that exists on all file servers.) Deployed new Crowdstrike Falcon next-gen antivirus/endpoint detection and response (EDR) platform to provide behavioral analytics on endpoint threats. Set up host-based firewalls for all endpoints through Crowdstrike EDR. Implemented cybersecurity awareness training program KnowBe4. Improved patch management and vulnerability management using a host of new tools. Implemented cloud single sign-on through ADFS with MFA. Deployed LastPass enterprise password management for IT, Communications and Marketing, GIS, and Finance. Migrated email spam filtering to Cisco cloud and implemented new controls and end-user quarantine features. Implemented Veeam enterprise to provide virtual infrastructure monitoring and automated backup testing.
A subset of the IT department, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) functions to help collect, interpret, and display data across all City departments. GIS is an integral part of City operations and affords City leaders the ability to make informed, data-driven decisions. As such, efforts of the GIS team has increased overall efficiency of operations while providing the insight necessary for continued improvement. During FY 21, GIS staff successfully utilized data and staff expertise to facilitate the following operational improvements: • Helped Facilities Management utilize the City’s operations management system (OMS) to track work and asset depreciation. • Partnered with Communications and Marketing to develop a system for Special Events including permit applications, coordination/communication across departments, and event mapping. • Worked with Parks and Recreation to collect nearly 4,000 data points for assets across all City parks with the goal of integrating this information into the OMS. • Worked with Public Works to collect more than 1,000 data points for assets across all City street intersections. (Included data on signal heads, traffic cameras, control cabinets, and intersections to integrate with the OMS and improve efficiency for maintenance, asset tracking and spending.) • Assessed and revised our public facing 311 system (SeeClickFix) to include additional reportable issues that integrate directly to the OMS. • Entered into an agreement with Nearmap Inc. to provide up to date high resolution imagery once per year allowing for increased accuracy and efficiency in mapping dependent operations. • Assisted in the installation of a new base station at City Hall to increase the accuracy of field data collection from GPS units. • Created GPS verified trail maps of Buffalo Mountain and Winged Deer Parks for public use accessible via mobile phone using QR codes posted alongside trail heads and trail junctions. • Created eight route options for virtual participation in the annual Turkey Trot race. Routes were distributed across the City to create safe and equitable access for participation. • Implemented new methods of tracking tree maintenance, removals, and plantings for the Public Works Forestry Division and improved accuracy of tree data to better assess the ecological benefits of trees across the City using a third-party application. • Created a web application for JC Transit to efficiently update bus routes every 10 minutes to better inform drivers and riders. • Created tools to assist JCPD in identifying suspects, crime trends, and relationships between them. (Included suspect identification tool, crime alerts and summaries, weekly crime dashboard, patrol locations dashboard, and a public crime application.) • Assisted JC schools in planning bus routes and school zone changes by mapping the locations of students across the City to determine the distribution of students for each school zone. • Helped complete assessment of streams as part of TDEC MS4 Permit requirements. Over 30 miles of stream across the City were assessed by Public Works staff, who leveraged GIS field tools to collect relevant information ranging from stormwater pipe outlets to trash dumping. • Utilized architectural plans for more than 40 City-owned properties and created digital models of their interior layouts and structures to better inform Facilities Management.
Reduced traffic in Johnson City during the COVID-19 pandemic was a boon to productivity within the City’s Public Works department. Staff made the most of the opportunity to complete a variety of projects across the city. TRANSPORTATION • Completion of Boones Creek and Interstate 26 interchange modification • Completion of Novus Drive between Market Street and State of Franklin Road • Completion of Mockingbird Lane extension to Sundale Road • Completion of Julie Lane widening • Completion of Market Street improvements between Roan Street and Buffalo Street • Completion of Langston Neighborhood street upgrades • Completion of widening of Swadley Road from Plymouth Road to Milligan Highway DOWNTOWN • Completion of Commerce Street parking lot • Completion of Natural Adventure Area playground • Installation of Christmas in the Park trees and lighting • Installation of mural at Buffalo and Market streets OTHER • Signalization of Novus Drive at Market Street and State of Franklin Road • Completion of Public Works storage facility on Main Street • Completion of recycling center roof expansion • Implementation of floodplain restoration in Maupin Row neighborhood • Construction of Cedar Grove trail from Tweetsie Trail to Milligan Highway • Construction of South Roan drainage way at Asbury School • Demolition of over a dozen dilapidated structures • Expanded business and industrial garbage collection with an additional route each due to high demand
Throughout FY 2021, the Communications and Marketing Department had to shift focus to pandemic-related messaging. From employee communications to facility signage to community-wide marketing campaigns, COVID-19 took center stage. But staff embraced the challenge and saw an opportunity to showcase the City brand in all visual elements. From masks to door clings to floor decals to 30x18-foot banners covering the City’s landmark sign, each piece afforded the chance to bear a logo or tagline. During a time when small businesses were suffering, Communications and Marketing provided social distancing and masking signage at no charge, which magnified the City brand throughout town. Nearly 5,000 custom branded masks were distributed to citizens, which translated to customers wearing the City brand across their faces as they were out and about. The department also produced a music video, “Gimme 6 Feet,” a parody of “Gimme Three Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, that reached more than 9,000 people on social media and was featured in the national City-County Communications Association’s (3CMA) annual film festival. A PSA about the reopening of Memorial Park Community Center won third place in the national 3CMA Savvy Awards competition. In addition to these efforts, Communications and Marketing also accomplished the following: • • • • • • • • • • •
Outfitting of conference rooms with remote technology needs and facilitation of electronic meetings. Coordination with community partners and UNICEF to begin Child Friendly Cities Initiative certification. Celebrations related to the Women’s Suffrage Centennial, including unveiling of commemorative mural on Ashe Street. Undertaking special events responsibilities with new position and process. Successful execution of Christmas in the Park in partnership with the Blue Plum Organization to provide a COVID-safe holiday festivity in the absence of a traditional parade. Development of City Commission strategic plan. Development of media coverage database. Creation of cloud-based photo archiving system. Implementation of social media management tool. Increased Facebook page likes/Instagram followers by 2,541 (an increase of more than 160%), and saw a 335,1000 reach on Christmas in the Park Facebook album. Development and dissemination of 187 press releases and eight employee newsletters.
In 1974, Freedom Hall Civic Center (FHCC) opened to serve the community as a place to gather and enjoy school events, sports, and entertainment. In FY 21, that continued in a way we could not have imagined. While a limited number of events were allowed to continue uninterrupted, the facility’s expansive parking areas served as a venue for COVID-19 testing, vaccination administration, and community food drives. During that time, FHCC hosted 20 events. Social distancing requirements limited attendance of ETSU basketball games to 500 guests per game. This capped overall attendance to just above 6,000. Concerts were also impacted by social distancing with only two taking place during FY 21. Their combined attendance was approximately 1,000 patrons. Meanwhile, FHCC served to accommodate social distancing requirements for Liberty Bell Middle School and Science Hill High School, which utilized the expansive facility to host classroom activities and graduation ceremonies. City firefighters also made good use of FHCC during its downtime by hosting ropes rescue training, hose training, and physicals there. FHCC staff used the additional time afforded by reductions in reservations and events to clean, organize, and repair facilities. A significant amount of their time was spent sanitizing and installing new touchless fixtures/ barriers at concessions stands, making all future operations safer and more efficient. The facility and staff are well positioned for events to resume as the country emerges from the associated risks and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The challenge of the pandemic has been well handled by the members of the Johnson City Fire Department. In an industry where firefighters live together for 24 hours at a time in close quarters, routinely responding to and dealing with the sick and injured, the department has experienced a relatively low impact to its daily staffing. It is a credit to the department’s workforce for their diligence in protecting themselves and others, both on and off duty. The Fire Department, fully staffed with 125 sworn firefighters and six civilian employees, responded to 9,451 calls for service in FY 21 with 62 percent of those calls being medical. The remaining calls were for fires (209), fire alarms, vehicle accidents, etc. The average turnout time was a respectable 1 minute and 21 seconds. The Johnson City Fire Department continued the accreditation process from the Center for Public Safety Excellence. Accreditation is an all-hazard, quality improvement model based on risk analysis and selfassessment that promotes the establishment of community-adopted performance targets for fire and emergency services agencies. The final step in the initial accreditation process is scheduled to take place in March 2022 with a presentation to the Commission on Fire Accreditation International for the Center for Public Safety Excellence. The Fire Department also is working diligently to ensure it maintains the Insurance Services Office – Public Protection Classification Rating of 1. Once accreditation is achieved, the Johnson City Fire Department will be in the elite company of only 1 percent of fire departments in the United States to hold both designations.