Project of the Year: Cedar Hill Strong
In response to the onset of (COVID-19) this year, Economic Development teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce to converge efforts to reach business community members. The website www.cedarhillstrong.com launched soon after the pandemic and continues to serve as the ultimate information hub for business-related content to the health-crisis.
Every department of the City is to be equally commended for their commitment to customers during this challenging time. Much like "Cedar Hill Strong," the ideas and innovation emerging from the year was quietly but diligently created to ensure staff, residents, business owners, workforce, and customers, had answers to their questions as it relates to our City, region, and nation, in efforts to help them navigate the days ahead.
Economic Development partnered closely with so many departments and associations, but Tourism most especially. A video showcasing the countless unique places found dear throughout the City to assure them with messaging that "Cedar Hill is looking forward to welcoming everyone back, and the best part about memories is, of course, making them!"
The team also partnered to bring positive messaging to blanket the community with hopes to instill confidence in residents, businesses, workforce, and visitors, that Cedar Hill cares. The yard signs were popular. The Chamber served as a convenient pick-up location; Neighborhood/Code Enforcement, as well as Citizens on Patrol, were essential to its success, too!
Parallel to the project's external marketing components, EDC took quick action and gained approval for funding to support local business owners impacted by the pandemic. Today, nearly $800,000 has been distributed to 70 local business owners. We are happy to report the funding did not affect any local budget through the partnership of the Mayor and Administration, especially Marie Watts, who worked tirelessly with Dallas County, the entity responsible for allocating Federal CARES Act Funding supporting this EDC Grant/Loan Program.
There is no one person, team, or department responsible for the tremendous success of the "CEDAR HILL STRONG" project. It took the internal purpose, mission, and very heart to help others, ensuring this program would soar, reaching new heights in city teamwork and community bond.
We are so proud of our Economic Development team for leading this project and all employees for their work during this past year. We are Cedar Hill Strong and are proud to honor Cedar Hill Strong as the 2020 Project of the Year!
Crew of the Year: IT Staff
Oh the challenges we faced with technology in 2020! How do we spring into action to go from working on site to working remotely? The IT Staff did exactly that. How would any of us have done our jobs remotely if not for IT? They faced not only the COVID crisis but had serious staff shortages during some of the time periods. You really would not know that though - they kept right on moving forward to serve us so that we may serve. It is a true testimony of their dedication, customer focused attitude, and skill to keep us going in 2020 and beyond. For this, we are proud to honor the staff of IT as the Crew of the Year!
Employee of the Year: Tia Rich
After thorough consideration and thought of all employees who serve the City of Cedar Hill, she continues to come to mind. Her compassion for the City of Cedar Hill is apparent through and through. She is everyone’s “go-to” person when needing assistance with an issue. Her customer service skills are exemplary. She is one of the friendliest people that I know, and she always arrives with a smile on her face and a happy greeting for her co-workers and citizens. She can often be found assisting someone with their water bill, trash issue, dog complaint, or just lending an ear to a sweet senior citizen. Her ability to communicate effectively to any situation is polished and genuine.
Recently, she started managing the Waste Management contract. This is no easy task. She took it on without hesitation and ready to accept the challenge. This is her attitude towards any project presented to her. Her positive attitude and great relationships always see her through the toughest tasks. She also recently managed a project for a sweet senior citizen in Cedar Hill that has lived without water for 10 years. She was able to put together a team of other community members and businesses to assist this senior. In doing so, She has developed quite the relationship with this resident and checks in with her often. She also volunteered to provide a presentation to City Council regarding this project. This was her first time doing so and was so prepared and did an amazing job. Again, taking on uncomfortable tasks, but doing a great job. Always working hard and ensuring perfection.
She also is the person that anyone can go to if they need a good laugh. She is witty and always finds a bright side to any situation. Despite her overwhelming workload, she consistently finds ways to help with her co-workers and other departments within the City. Her willingness to assist others and her commitment to the City of Cedar Hill is unequaled. For these reasons and so many more, we are proud to honor Tia Rich as our 2020 employee of the year!
Leader of the Year: Rafael Reyes
Hired in the summer of 2017, this Leader has helped to drastically reshape the Fire Department, taking its training and service to the next level.
He believes in leading from the front. He arrives to work at least one hour early and is often found working on projects late into the evening. He has never asked anyone to do anything that he himself would not do. From confined space mayday drills to annual physical agility test, He motivates his team by being one of the first to go.
He also makes sure that his people are prepared. Training is huge to him. This is one reason why the Tri-Cities hated to lose him as the regional training chief. When he arrived, he brought in the Blue Card Incident Command model to the region, which has already proven to be a lifesaver.
Besides working on several projects and overseeing the daily operations of the fire department, he also works daily on continuing his already extensive education. He is currently enrolled in the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer (EFO) Program out of Emmitsburg, Maryland. This is a very extensive two-year program that requires weekly research papers along with multiple other requirements.
His people come first, and he listens to what they have to say because their opinion matters. His favorite saying to everyone is “I’m going to love you big”. The crews feel this love too, especially when he stops whatever he’s working on and just talks with them, whether it’s about work or family, he stops whatever he’s doing and listens.
For the ways in which he models servant leadership and fosters teamwork, supporting the City’s culture and values we are proud to honor Assistant Fire Chief Rafael Reyes as our 2020 Leader of the Year. Congratulations, Chief!
Director of the Year: Shawn Ray
This director is a true servant leader. He works hard to keep many moving parts going forward, while still adding a personal touch to each person in the department. He helps keep everyone feeling like they are a critical part of the team. His willingness to step in, fill in the gaps and keep the team together means more than he can possibly know. He is kind, respectful and straightforward in how he leads, and it has made a huge impact on the level of productivity as a department and our overall communication.
He serves in one capacity or another at every single event I know of. He is always willing to step in and help, and if he can't for some reason, he makes sure you have the support you need. If he says he is getting something done, you can bank on it. He is full of integrity; he is consistent, and he is a team-builder. He allows others to flourish in their strength zone, and challenges our team to be better, which makes him a true leader.
He is a huge asset to the department, leadership team and the City of Cedar Hill as a whole. His knowledge of the department and the history of the City is unparalleled. He seems to be a walking encyclopedia of knowledge.
During this past year through the pandemic, his priority regarding the safety and wellbeing of the employees and community was always considered first while planning for any event or work conditions. His customer service skills are exemplary. He is one of the friendliest people I know, and he always is looking for ways to collaborate with other departments and community organizations. Many of the PID presidents, neighborhood leaders and crime watch leaders say he is always offering his assistance for their projects.
He leads from wherever he is and is a leader to emulate. He takes the quote "Leaders eat Last" to heart. Despite the overwhelming amount of work that everyone has to do, he consistently finds ways to help his co-workers and community leaders. Other departments will often go to him for guidance or advice on an idea or upcoming event. He is always quick to respond to requests and is thorough in ensuring that everything is completed. He is a clear example of the City's culture of high standards. He has implemented many new programs and always improving existing ones. He is always considering the City Council's vision, mission and values when creating and executing plans. For these reasons and probably so many more and too many to list, he is very deserving of this honor. It my great pleasure to announce our 2020 Director of the Year, Shawn Ray!