City agrees to Essex extension
HUNTSVILLE, Jun 20, 2012 (The Huntsville Item - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Huntsville City Council members agreed Tuesday to extend Essex Boulevard, providing improved traffic flow in the areas of Avenue M and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
"It will be directly across the street from the Huntsville Independent School District bus barn," said city planner Aron Kulhavy on Monday. "Extending Essex will help a lot with traffic circulation in the area. It will also open up some of that area for development."
The proposed exit of Essex Boulevard will also be located near the future site of a new Boys and Girls Club building.
The vote to extend the road was unanimous, though council members Keith Olson and Tish Humphrey were absent.
Council members also discussed a new employee incentive program called the Pride Points Card. The cards will feature the employee's department and contact information, along with a space for citizens to write comments.
Council member Lydia Montgomery said the employee can then turn the card over to his or her supervisor.
"Every day our workers are out there and they're interacting with our citizenry," she said. "We thought having a card for them to start a conversation and providing them an opportunity to give us feedback was a great idea."
James Fitch, one of Montgomery's fellow at-large council members, agreed and said this program will allow the city government to involve city staff in customer relations.
"Our employees are proud of the job they do and the city they work for," he said. "We decided we want each department to have their own card so they can be proud of what they do for the city."
Cost estimates for printing the cards have run around the $750 to $900 range, but City Secretary Lee Woodward said lower estimates have come in and will be presented to council soon.
Council members heard a presentation from mayor pro tem Don Johnson on the new technology initiative starting this year at Huntsville Independent School District. The district is implementing a "Bring Your Own Technology" program where students will be allowed to use cell phones and similar wireless devices.
"They discovered in a survey of the high school students and Mance Park Middle School that 85 percent of the students owned (a cell phone)," Johnson said. "(Superintendent Dr. Steve Johnson) made an effective point that these are considered to be a nuisance to classroom instructions. A pencil could be just as much of a distraction to learning."
Johnson demonstrated how pencils could be distracting by banging one on the council dais, then reminded the audience that both cell phones and pencils are tools.
"Instead of banning (cell phones), HISD is spending the summer how to utilize these devices for the kids to accelerate their learning," Johnson said.
In other business, council members heard a report on the citizen survey, available at www.huntsvilletx.gov. The deadline for taking the survey is July 1, and 500 citizens have participated so far.
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