October 2007 Highlights

October 31 is All Hallow's Eve, and the streets of Winston-Salem were filled with costumed children having a howling good time.  Some of our blocks were graced with spooktacular decorations.  (And now, someone please stop me before I pun again...)

Talk of the Town will be November 20:       The 2007 Southwest Ward "Talk of the Town" meeting will be hosted by Mayor Allen Joines and myself this month on Tuesday, November 20, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1416 Bolton Street.  Trinity is located between on Bolton Street between Silas Creek Parkway and the Forsyth Tech West Campus.  This meeting is always a good chance to bring your comments and questions on city and neighborhood concerns for discussion by the mayor, myself, and key city staff.  Please join us for an hour or so then.

Voluntary water conservation measures requested:     Despite the recent rain, North Carolina is still locked in the grip of an historic drought.  An unusually dry winter is predicted as well, meaning that the usual water table recharge may not take place this year.  As a result, many communities around our state face the possibility of crisis-level water shortages by next summer.  To avert such a disaster, Governor Mike Easley has called on local governments around the state to implement water conservation measures now, to avoid shortages—and even rationing—later.  Winston-Salem is fortunate to have an unusually strong water supply situation, and we would probably be among the last cities in the state to face critical shortages on our own.  However, even our supplies are not inexhaustible, and we have a responsibility to think about downstream users of the Yadkin River as well.  In response to this situation, Mayor Joines in October asked the City-County Utilities Commission to consider implementing additional public measures to reduce non-essential water use in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

City Manager Lee Garrity implemented several steps to reduce water use by city government.  For the time being--

  • The city has stopped washing vehicles except as needed for public and environmental health.
  • The city has phased out the watering of athletic fields.
  • The Utilities Division will not flush water lines except as needed to protect water quality or test new lines.
  • The Fire Department has suspended hydrant and water-flow testing and stopped washing fire trucks.

City residents are asked to conserve water as well, by not watering lawns with sprinkler systems, repairing leaky faucets and toilets, limiting vehicle washing, and other conservation steps.

We all need to keep in mind that the days of not having to think about limits to our water supply are over in North Carolina.  North Carolina's ongoing dramatic population growth, plus the likely drying of our climate as a result of global warming, will make wise water management a necessity of life from now on.  Our health, our environment, and our economy all depend on it.

Electronic signage restrictions finalized:     The final form of Winston-Salem's rules regulating the flashing, spinning, blinking distractions of street-side "electronic message boards" were adopted at the City Council's October 1 meeting.  The new rules limit how quickly these electronic signs are allowed to change their messages. 

The purpose of this change-rate restriction, together with the prohibition on flashing, blinking, and other "transition effects" on these signs, is twofold:

  • reduce the traffic safety hazard caused by driver distraction [caused by drivers watching the changing sign messages]; and
  • improve community appearance by reducing the visual clutter associated with roadside signage.

As a compromise, the final rules set a two-hour maximum change rate for all new signs, but allow existing electronic signs a 15-year "grandfather" period during which they can change as quickly as once every eight seconds.  They also prohibit flashing and spinning "transitional effects".

I supported these restrictions as an acceptable compromise between the interests of sign owners and those of the broader city community.

Neighborhood associations meet:     October was a good month for neighborhood meetings.  During the month, I attended meetings of the Ardmore Neighborhood Association (Oct.8), the Lockland Park Neighborhood Association (Oct.27), and the Knollwood Manor Neighborhood Association (Oct.30).  If your neighborhood has a meeting scheduled, please let me know.  I try to meet with all our active neighborhood groups every year, and more often when possible.