Oct 26

Community Engagement: It’s happening in Dayton

Posted on October 26, 2022 at 3:58 PM by Alex Despain

In recent years you may have heard local governments use the term “community engagement” more and more without being certain just what the term means.

I know the words can seem vague, but I can assure you the City of Dayton staff doing community engagement work are involved in very specific activities that have an impact in neighborhoods.

In fact, just two years ago, the City of Dayton reorganized some programs and activities into a Division of Community Engagement in the newly named Department of Planning, Neighborhoods and Development, with a purpose of further strengthening support of neighborhoods.

The division’s staff are responsible for involving residents in City government, communicating with residents about their concerns, and helping neighborhood-driven efforts succeed through providing useful resources. The division also includes the Welcome Dayton program, which supports the growth and well-being of Dayton’s immigrant communities.

To further define and illuminate community engagement, let’s look at just some of the recent activities in Dayton, some carried out by Division of Community Engagement staff and some accomplished by other groups.

Elements of the Dayton Recovery Plan – Dayton’s own $138 million share of the giant federal American Rescue Plan Act designed to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while preparing for the future – are beginning to make an impact across the city. The City of Dayton has earned praise for its involvement of residents and community leaders in the development of the Dayton Recovery Plan. Through a survey and a series of public meetings in 2021, City staff members clearly heard the community’s wishes on how funds from the largest grant in the city’s history should be applied. That was community engagement in action.

A similar community engagement effort led by CityWide, Dayton’s non-profit development affiliate, occurred in 2018-19 following the closure of Good Samaritan Hospital in Northwest Dayton. The “PhoenixNext” project was an 18-month visioning process involving 600 participant and identifying the community’s ideas and preferences for reuse of the 13-acre site. Ground will be broken this fall for the Northwest Health & Wellness Campus, a multi-tenant, multi-purpose complex reflecting the vision developed by the community.

Annually, the City of Dayton’s 10-week Neighborhood Leadership Institute offers information, networking and hands-on learning activities designed to bring out and enhance leadership skills in neighborhood volunteers. The series is presented by the Division of Community Engagement.

Recently, Division of Community Engagement staff worked to involve residents in a cleanup in the Greenwich Village neighborhood, in cooperation with the City’s Department of Public Works, the Division of Housing Inspection and Dayton Police. Their success was evident as scores of residents joined in the effort, many going the extra mile with yard work at their own homes in addition to helping with cleaning of vacant lots.

And on Oct. 1, City staff and volunteers presented the annual neighborhood conference, this year titled “Above and Beyond: Elevating Our Neighborhoods.” More than 250 residents, community leaders and businesspeople joined in dozens of workshops, brainstorming sessions and conversations about strengthening neighborhoods in and beyond the city of Dayton.

These are just some of the ways the City of Dayton and our partners make a difference through community engagement. You’ll see more in the months ahead if you follow the City on daytonohio.gov or our social media channels.

Shelley Dickstein Chatting with Mr. Larry Williams of the Westwood Neighborhood at the October 1, 20Chatting with Mr. Larry Williams of the Westwood neighborhood at the Oct. 1 neighborhood conference

Jun 30

Police: Serving the community, so many ways

Posted on June 30, 2022 at 3:50 PM by Alex Despain

Dayton Police Uniform Patch

We see the uniform, we see the badge, and we probably notice the gun they carry. But as with nearly any situation or group of people, there is much more than meets the eye.

Have you looked at the face of the man or woman who wakes up every day and makes a decision to protect perfect strangers?

If you look at a bodycam video of Dayton Officer Thadeu Holloway, you would see blood dripping onto the camera lens from a gunshot wound on the side of his head after he was shot by a fraud suspect (an incident occurring in September of 2021 that resulted in Officer Holloway being recognized nationally for exemplary policing work).

If you listen to the audio from that scene, you would hear Officer Holloway communicating with innocent bystanders, telling them to stay where they were because the suspect still had a gun--and then thanking them for being cooperative. You would hear Officer Holloway refuse to leave to get needed medical attention because the scene needed to be secured and the suspect needed first aid as well.

Sure, you might say, “That was all over the news and that’s only one officer and one incident.”

There are more…Do you know about Officer Hargraves, who plucked a distressed man from the edge a bridge, preventing him from jumping? How about Officers Ishmael and Wiesman, who were first to arrive on a fire scene and found a frantic mother whose baby was still inside the burning building? They went inside the home, guided by the mother, and rescued the child from a certain death.

Then there’s Officer Olinger, who saved a trapped car accident victim’s life by putting a tourniquet on his badly damaged arm, giving firefighters time to carefully remove the man from the twisted vehicle. You should also know about Officers Murphy and Urekar, who put a woman in their cruiser and rushed her to the hospital when her EpiPen wasn’t alleviating a serious allergic reaction. Oh, and they made sure her car got to the hospital, so it was there when she was released.

And though there was no media coverage, please be aware that Officer Webster apprehended a man moments after he tried to kidnap a woman at gunpoint, and that Officers Speelman and Betsinger helped a mom get her autistic teenager home safely and then retrieved her keys from a roof, where the teen had thrown them.

Then there are the detectives who spend years on investigating and bringing cases to trial, such as Detective Dulaney, who worked to bring justice to a number of scammers who took advantage of residents after the tornadoes of 2019. Or how about Detective Phillips who worked tirelessly to put a drug dealer responsible for four overdose deaths in prison?

In 2021, more than 40 Dayton officers (and some civilians) worked together as a team on a gun reduction initiative, succeeding in removing more than 100 guns from our streets and making 191 felony arrests. The efforts were targeted at those taking part in the most violent crimes.

These law enforcement professionals didn’t know any of the people they saved or helped or sought justice for. They don’t put on the badge for recognition, and they don’t carry a gun because they want to use it. I hope when you see the badge, you will also see the face of the man or woman who wakes up every morning and makes a decision to protect perfect strangers.

When recruiting new officers, the Dayton Police Department seeks people who value fairness and service above all else. We’re looking for recruits now; the application period ends July 31. The potential for job specialization and growth toward leadership positions is plentiful—recruits are sometimes surprised by the scope of skills and interests that police work can involve. I encourage anyone interested to look into this opportunity. Information is available at joindaytonpd.com.

Apr 18

Surprised by how City employees make a difference? (Part 1)

Posted on April 18, 2022 at 4:09 PM by Bryan Taulbee

City of Dayton employees perform a vast variety of jobs, including some that many residents are probably not aware of.  

All employees make a difference, but there is a group in Dayton’s Department of Water that I would like to shine a light on—a technical team at a little-known (but very important) laboratory at Dayton’s water reclamation facility. 

These well-trained professionals quietly go about work vital to the area’s environment and public health, at an out-of-the-way spot tucked into a bend of the Great Miami River at Dayton’s southern border. 

“Water reclamation,” by the way, is a somewhat-recent way of saying “wastewater treatment.” The importance of this work—making sure the outflow of sanitary waste treatment is sufficiently clean to enter the river, every day, all year—is matched by its complexity. With the increasing use of local waterways for recreation, “reclamation” (or re-use) is the right approach for your public water system to take. 

So, what exactly do the lab workers in the Division of Water Reclamation do, and what special abilities do they bring to their own brand of public service?

Laboratory staffing currently includes five jobs filled by employees specializing in instrumentation, bacteriology/chemistry, and a variety of technical analysis methods. These analysts are, in effect, the “eyes and ears” of the treatment process.  

They are certified to run a multitude of analyses to monitor for potential problems caused by substances and compounds we ordinary water customers would never think of:  metals such as cadmium and dissolved hexavalent chromium, plus suspended solids, cyanide, e Coli, and ammonia nitrogen, just to name a few.  

The names of some of these contaminants send me straight to Google for an explanation, but be assured, we do not want them entering our waterways at amounts considered potentially harmful by Ohio EPA or other health authorities.

For the past two years the lab team has also regularly sampled for the presence of the genetic markers of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater, a way of helping state health officials monitor the spread of COVID-19 in various localities. 

The team members maintain certification from Ohio EPA and other entities, reflecting the City of Dayton’s commitment to good environmental stewardship and our efforts toward operating the water reclamation facility efficiently to help keep water rates low. Water Reclamation Lab Team 2022

Water Reclamation Division management supports employee trainings and certifications required for this vital work. In fact, all five lab team members are actively pursuing Ohio Water Environment Association Voluntary Lab Analyst Certification, in addition to other credentials they have already earned. 

Recently, the City of Dayton recognized our own “Women in Water” who contribute in so many ways to providing safe, affordable water for approximately 400,000 users of Dayton water in the city and much of Montgomery County. We are proud to count Emily Mazur, Kimie Kilgore, and Britton Bauer of the water reclamation lab among these scientifically adept and publicly minded women. 

Photo: The self-named “mad scientists” at the Division of Water Reclamation lab (left to right): Emily Mazur, Britton Bauer, Kimie Kilgore, Jian Cao, Walter “Fritz” Schroder (lab supervisor).

Look for a tribute to another group of City of Dayton public servants in an upcoming edition of “City Manager’s Perspective.”