Talk of Our Towns

Western North Carolinians Honored with Attorney General Josh Stein’s Dogwood Award

Attorney General Josh Stein today announced that Casey Cooper, CEO, Cherokee Indian Hospital, Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman, Franklin Mayor Bob Scott, and Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor have received the Attorney General’s Dogwood Award. These awards are given annually to honor North Carolinians who are dedicated to keeping people safe, healthy, and happy in their communities.

Casey Cooper
“Casey Cooper is showing a strong commitment to keeping the Cherokee people safe and healthy day in and day out,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I appreciate his work to further chronic disease prevention and health education.”

Casey Cooper, BSN, MBA, FACHE, is the Chief Executive Officer of Cherokee Indian Hospital. Casey has devoted his career to American Indian health care. Throughout his tenure among the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Casey has worked as a primary care nurse, community health nurse, nurse educator, and nursing manager.

Sheriff Alan Norman
“Sheriff Alan Norman is doing important work to protect public safety in Cleveland County,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “From his commitment to keeping people safe from sex abuse to his tireless work to hold the dealers and traffickers who profit from people’s addiction accountable, I appreciate his leadership.”

Sheriff Alan Norman is currently serving his third term as Cleveland County’s sheriff. A second generation law enforcement officer, Sheriff Norman has worked in law enforcement for more than 35 years.

“It is a shame that sex offenders prey on our children and society,” said Sheriff Alan Norman. “Both are our future and it is my job to make sure that the public is informed of sex offenders within Cleveland County.”

Mayors Bob Scott and Patrick Taylor
“Mayors Bob Scott and Patrick Taylor were extremely helpful to my office and me as we worked to negotiate the best deal for health care in western North Carolina,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “My office conducted an extensive review of the Mission/HCA transfer and Mayor Scott and Mayor Taylor provided extremely helpful on-theground insight throughout that process. I appreciate their leadership in standing up to protect the people they serve and their health care.”

A native of Greenville, SC, Mayor Bob Scott has lived in Franklin since 1967. He is a graduate of Western Carolina University, the FBI National Academy and Palmetto Military Academy, and the South Carolina National Guard’s Officer Candidate School. He retired from the Western Carolina University Campus Police Department where he served as executive officer. Mayor Scott currently serves as a Director of the North Carolina League of Municipalities.

“I am humbled to receive this award,” said Mayor Bob Scott. “However, I am receiving it on behalf of the men and women of Franklin, Highlands, and Macon County who stood with Mayor Pat Taylor of Highlands and Barrett Hawks of Highlands and myself, in making sure we were not short changed in the Mission/HCA deal. Also, my heartfelt thanks that General Stein stood with us and listened to our concerns.”

Mayor Patrick Taylor has been the mayor of Highlands since 2013. He has also served as a magistrate of the North Carolina 30th Judicial District. Prior to that, he taught art at the high school and collegiate levels. He is also a highly regarded potter. Mayor Taylor has degrees from Valdosta State University and the University of Georgia.

“It is an honor to be a recipient of a Dogwood Award.”

Winston-Salem Again Ranked as a Top 10 Digital City

For the 18th year in a row Winston-Salem has been ranked as one of the top 10 most technology-savvy cities of its size in America by the Center for Digital Government, a national research and advisory institute. Winston-Salem ranked sixth in the center’s 2019 Digital Cities Survey of cities with a population of 125,000 to 249,999. The annual study ranks the use of information technology by local governments.

The 2019 survey ranked cities for their use of digital technology to make their communities “more secure, user-friendly, efficient and resilient,” said Teri Takai, the center’s executive director. “Their efforts are making technology a driver of better, smarter, more responsive government.”

The center honored the city for implementing new software that uses GIS data for the city’s code enforcement personnel; for new 311 call center technology that provides a more streamlined experience for users; for the city’s new website, and for the city’s continued focus on cybersecurity, including mandatory cybersecurity awareness training for all new hires and the formation of an “enterprise cybersecurity team” within the Information Systems Department.

Tom Kureczka, the city’s chief information officer, said the city’s top 10 rankings for 18 years running affirms the city success in maintaining existing services while investing in next-generation systems and technology.

“The I.S. staff has worked hard at providing new and improved services to our citizens, while not compromising our continued focus on cybersecurity requirements,” Kureczka said. “Our goals included providing the public a new door into City Hall — a virtual door — and increased openness and transparency, while continuing to ensure our community that we are protecting their information and privacy.”

Winston-Salem is the only city in its category to be ranked in the top 10 every year since 2002, the first year the city participated. This includes a first-place ranking in 2014 and second-place rankings in 2003, 2008, 2011 and 2017.

Jacksonville Police Department Awarded International Award

A Leadership in Community Policing Award has been accepted by a City of Jacksonville delegation from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Award recognizes promising practices that utilize effective and long-lasting partnerships to make local, national, and global communities safer.

Accepting the award at the Chicago meeting, was Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara, Jacksonville Public Safety Direct and Police Chief Mike Yaniero and Deputy Police Chief Ashley Weaver. The award honors agencies for programs that exemplify the principles of community policing and strengthen community trust through active and inclusive community collaboration. Jacksonville Police Department’s project to reengineer Use of Force principles, policy and procedures resulted in more positive interactions, partnerships, and improved problem-solving in the Jacksonville community. The action to reduce Use of Force in arrests, was in part inspired by the One City campaign which encourages all to treat one another with respect and civility.

The delegation accepted the award during the IACP’s Annual Banquet at the 2019 IACP Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago. “Community Policing is not just a program for our agency, but part of our operational framework” said Chief Mike Yaniero. “We are very proud of the community policing mindset of our officers in their day to day duties.”