Former Warsaw Mayor Jeff Plank will be remembered as a great communicator. He loved to give speeches and had a penchant for releasing handwritten notes that sometimes doubled as news releases.
But fast forward 30 years or so and you’ll see that Joe Thallemer’s administration has taken communications to an impressive level in numerous ways.
Lest we forget, here’s a recap on efforts established by the Thallemer administration:
- The city live streams every city board meeting. Those videos are then archived and posted on Youtube where a closed caption option is available.
- The city established a lightning detection alert system that has been established in several park properties in the event severe weather in on the horizon.
- A video camera (with timelapse) is tracking the city’s biggest public works project as the city reconstructs its wastewater treatment plant.
- The city has also expanded use of its Facebook page and upgraded the city website to make it more user-friendly.
But the most impressive move is still to come as the city works to establish a system that will allow the city to push out an array of different types of mass notifications, much of which will rely on residents signing up for the service.
Staci Young, assistant to the mayor, said the changes have evolved with a shift in the city’s outlook on communications during Thallemer’s first term. Young has overseen many of the changes and said the city continues to look for ways to improve.
“It really was just a change of vision for the city to better use technology to serve our city — whether that means better communication with residents, a better engagement experience for residents or more efficient operations behind the scenes,” Young said in a recent email to me.
While trying to quantify all of this is beyond my skill set, I would guess Warsaw’s numerous efforts to connect with residents in different ways puts the city near the top of any list among cities in terms of keeping in touch with its residents. If you know of another city of similar size that does more, feel free to send me a note.
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POPULAR MOVE — Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle P. Dukes campaigned last year on the notion of bringing back the unified drug task force and it seems to have been a popular move, based on an unscientific poll conducted this week by InkFreeNews. It’s tough to get 74 percent of anyone to agree on anything, but respondents indicated the newly formed alliance, which includes support from the county and Warsaw city police, was necessary.
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NETWORKING — Maybe they are just optimists. Or maybe they realize being a member of the Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club is just smart networking. Three candidates for city council (Independent Chris Plack and Democrats Sarah McNeal Strahan-Lenfestey and Roxanne Coffelt) all recently became Optimists.
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40 YEARS AGO — Attorney Austin Rovenstine used Facebook this week to remind friends of a political “scandal” that surfaced 40 years ago involving the election of his grandfather, Al Rovenstine to sheriff in 1979.
According to the story, GOP Chairman Ed Pratt made a bet with Jack Mason that Al Rovenstine would defeat Sheriff John Hammersley. After Rovenstine won, Mason delivered $3,000 — a dollar for every vote over Hammersley’s vote total — to Pratt at the Atwood Cafe, which served as campaign headquarters for Rovenstine.
As Austin recalls, Pratt resisted calls to resign by County Councilman Carl Latta, but Pratt did not seek another term, which opened the door for Jean Northenor to take the reins of the party in 1980.
Dan Spalding is the editor of InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.