Sunday December 8, 2019
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Mayor Greg Fischer recently announced Amy Hess as Metro Louisville’s new Chief of Public Services, a role where she will oversee such critical departments as Public Works, Emergency Services, Corrections, Fleet and Facilities, and Animal Services.

Hess currently serves as Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, and is the highest-ranking woman in the FBI.  A native of Jeffersonville, Ind., she previously served as the Special Agent in Charge of the Louisville field office, with responsibility for all FBI personnel and operations throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky. In that role, she led the FBI’s participation in strategies to reduce violent crime and combat the opioid epidemic; and oversaw the pursuit and capture of fugitive Eric Conn. (See her full bio here.)

Louisville’s Business First honored Hess among its Enterprising Women award winners in 2018, naming her “Woman Making a Difference.”

“With her vast management experience, and her deep knowledge and experience with our region and complex systems, Amy is an incredible addition to our team,” Mayor Fischer said.  “I welcome Amy home, and look forward to her helping Louisville continue on its path as a global, breakout city.”

Hess thanked Mayor Fischer for the opportunity to return to the community she has served and loves, adding, “I know from my previous role here that the men and women of Louisville Metro Government are hard-working, talented and committed to public service. I look forward to contributing to this great team.”

Hess will start on February 1, 2020, after transitioning from her current job and moving back to Louisville.

Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) Director Ozzy Gibson, who has been serving as interim Chief of Public Services, will continue as LMAS director, assist with Hess’ transition into her new role, and take an additional role in the Mayor’s Office as Senior Advisor on Special Projects.

“I am deeply grateful to Ozzy for stepping up in this interim period and serving as a strong leader for the Public Services Cabinet,” Mayor Fischer said.  “We will continue to utilize his vast talents, knowledge and love for our city by having him not only continue to serve as Director of Animal Services, but also in this new role as Senior Advisor on Special Projects, or, as I like to call it, Senior Troubleshooter!”

Louisville Metro Government is moving forward with plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change. The city also will provide a progress report on the goals set out in the city’s first sustainability plan, Sustain Louisville, later this month.

On Nov. 1, Mayor Greg Fischer announced the release of a draft of the Emissions Reduction Plan at the annual Louisville Sustainability Summit. The plan, part of a commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayors, serves as a framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Louisville Metro’s Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability, which helped guide the Emissions Reduction Plan, also is developing a climate adaptation plan, Prepare Louisville, to address existing and anticipated effects of climate change. Input on both will be critical to determining the best approach to tackling climate change now and in the years ahead.

“Despite national action to abandon the Paris climate accord, Louisville is listening to our residents, especially our young people who spoke out during the Climate Strike, and are stepping up to keep fighting climate change,” said the Mayor. “The release of the Emissions Reduction Plan and formulation of a climate adaptation plan takes us to the next stage as a community – to an urgent and critical conversation about how we move forward to achieve the necessary greenhouse gas reductions and how we work together to address the current and future impacts of climate change.”

The strategies included in the Emissions Reduction Plan were derived from best industry practices and reflect our best understanding of where current trends will take us in the years ahead. It is intended to be flexible in nature as new technologies and regulatory changes drive change in our community.

Louisville Metro recognizes that since the plan’s 80% emissions reduction target was set, recent scientific reports have expressed the need for more urgent and accelerated action to avoid irreversible impacts of climate change. In response, the city will continue pursuing actions that will propel Louisville beyond the 80% reduction target laid out in the plan.

Residents can submit their feedback on the Emissions Reduction Plan now through Saturday, Nov. 30 at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/sustainability/greenhouse-gas-inventory .

Residents also are asked to help shape Prepare Louisville, the climate adaptation plan, by sharing their experiences, concerns, and ideas via a short online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/preparelouisville . The deadline to complete the survey has been extended to Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Lastly, the Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability will be releasing a progress report on Wednesday, Nov. 13, updating the goals and initiatives set forth in Sustain Louisville. The report will describe the strides made and highlight the key successes toward these goals, as well as identifying areas for improvement.

For more information about Sustain Louisville, visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/sustainability/sustain-louisville

Joined by more than 250 members of the Louisville Metro Snow Team, Mayor Greg Fischer today declared that the city is battle ready for the 2019-20 snow season. After the announcement, the Snow Team worked through a mock snow event that included driving all road treatment routes.

“I’m honored to stand along with our Snow Team to declare Louisville is ready to tackle significant winter weather,” said the Mayor. “This team will jump into action any hour, any day, to make it safe for the rest of us to get where we need to go when it snows.”

Mayor Fischer also named dozens of Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) students as honorary members of the Snow Team.

The students – from Eisenhower, Gutermuth, Jacob, Layne, Sanders and Wilkerson elementary schools – decorated six snowplows to be used in the upcoming winter season. Some of the plows will be part of the Lots of Lights Parade during the Light Up Louisville celebration on Friday, Nov. 29. The plows were displayed during today’s event in the Cardinal Stadium parking lot.

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said, “We appreciate the diligence and hard work of the Louisville Metro Snow Team in keeping roads safe and passable every winter. We depend on that commitment to ensure students and employees can get to and from school in inclement weather, limiting the number of days that students are away from the classroom.

“I’m also proud of our students who used their artistic talents to show their appreciation in their own way — Louisville’s streets will be both safer and more beautiful this year when the Snow Team is activated.”

The Snow Team is led by Metro Public Works under the leadership of Director Vanessa Burns and Assistant Director for Roads and Operations, Brian Funk. The Public Works Solid Waste Management Division, Metro Parks, the Department of Codes & Regulations, and the Division of Fleet and Facilities are also part of the team.

The Louisville Fire Department also is preparing to help residents combat winter fires and indoor home safety.

“It’s important for the community to play a key role in keeping their home, families and neighbors safe,” said Major Bobby Cooper, Louisville Fire Department. “Simple safety precautions like maintaining home heating equipment, using space heaters and generators with caution, and replacing batteries in smoke alarms can help ensure a warm and safe winter.”

While the Louisville Metro Snow Team is focused on keeping things moving safely on the ground, Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport has a team that’s focused on making sure people can get in and out of the city through the air.

“The dedicated snow teams for both Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport and Bowman Field are prepared and ready to respond anytime inclement weather is in the area,” said Dan Mann, Executive Director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. “As SDF remains strong as the seventh busiest cargo airport in the world with more than 300 daily flights from our cargo partners, plus 80 flights from the passenger airlines, we play an essential role in connecting people and goods around the globe. It’s crucial that our airfield is operational and ready for use 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. Just as Louisville Metro takes great care of the city, we remain focused on ensuring the airport is ready for business at all hours of the day.”

Louisville will begin the snow season this year with 38,500 tons of salt on hand. Most of the salt will be stored underground in Louisville Mega Cavern, 1841 Taylor Ave. About 15,550 tons are distributed to four above ground locations where the salt will be loaded onto spreading vehicles as needed. Total salt used in the 2018-19 snow season was 10,505 tons.

The city will also continue to pretreat roads with brine ahead of snowfalls. Brine is a saltwater solution that reduces the adherence of snow and ice to pavement and reduces slick spots.

The city’s snow removal progress can be followed via an interactive online map. During snow events, a snow map will be posted on the city website, www.Louisvilleky.gov, and the Department of Public Works site at www.louisvilleky.gov/publicworks. The latest updates will also be posted on Twitter at LouPubWorks.

Louisville Metro Government today closed on its sale of $45 million of tax-exempt bonds to Morgan Stanley & Company, with nationally recognized credit rating services S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service again affirming the city’s positive bond ratings of AA+ and Aa1, respectively.

Both credit rating agencies cited Louisville’s vibrant economy and sound fiscal management as strengths — but also expressed concern regarding Louisville’s growing state pension obligations and relatively low fund balance, commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund.

The bond sale will provide long-term funding to capital projects from the FY19 budget that had been temporarily funded with a line of credit. The competitive sale generated bids from 11 companies and resulted in a True Interest Cost (TIC) of 1.89 percent for the city.

“Louisville continues to receive external validation, from both independent rating agencies and the credit markets, that we are well-run with an expanding economy,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.  “But they also recognize that we will have very limited opportunities to invest in ourselves the way our peer cities are doing because of the growing and sustained state pension increases, unless we structurally address them through either new revenue or continued budget cuts.”

The bond proceeds will fund a variety of projects from the FY19 capital budget, including the completion of the recently opened Northeast Regional Library and the Metro Animal Services shelter. Projects also include ongoing maintenance and repair projects related to street paving, sidewalks, bridges, parks, the Zoo, Metro facilities, and public safety vehicles.

S&P again affirmed its second-highest rating of AA+ with a stable outlook for Metro Louisville.

In its report, S&P factored in Louisville’s “strong economy” and “strong management” but warned that their assessment “could be weakened in the future if we believe its budget shows signs of strain in accommodating future pension contributions.”

Moody’s again affirmed its second highest rating of Aa1 with a stable outlook for Metro Louisville.

Moody’s report cited Louisville Metro’s “sizeable and growing tax base serving as a regionally important economic hub” as a factor in assigning the Aa1 rating, but also expressed the city’s credit challenges related to “lower reserves and liquidity relative to national peers” and a “higher pension burden compared to medians for the rating category.”

The rating agencies recognized the strength of Louisville’s economy, evidenced by $14 billion of capital investment since 2014, 80,000 new jobs and 2,700 new businesses since 2011, rising wages and an unemployment rate below four percent, said Louisville Metro Chief Financial Officer Daniel Frockt.

“Mayor Fischer’s vision of an equitable and vibrant Louisville continue to garner positive results when we go to the capital markets,” Frockt said.  “We are also receiving feedback that we will need a longer-term plan to address the mounting pension obligations over the next several years.”

On Thursday, Frockt will be providing an update on the sale and credit reports to the Metro Council Budget Committee.

Louisville Metro’s Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability, the Louisville Sustainability Council, and the Louisville Zoo will co-host the sixth annual Sustainability Summit on Friday, Nov. 1.

“For all of us, as individuals, as organizations, as a community and a nation, reversing climate change has to be a factor in our decisions every single day,” said Mayor Greg Fischer, who declared a climate emergency during a local Global Climate Strike event in September. “Please join the 2019 Sustainability Summit to work with community leaders and stakeholders on ways we can take on climate change with a sense of urgency, purpose, and focus.”

The Summit will feature keynote speaker Dr. Robert Brinkmann, the vice provost for scholarship and research and director of sustainability studies at Hofstra University, as well as a panel of local leaders on tackling greenhouse gas emissions in Louisville.

“The summit is our annual opportunity to gather together under one roof as concerned individuals, nonprofit organizations, school groups, faith-based groups and sustainability professionals from the public and private sectors,” said Alicia Hullinger, Board Chair of the Louisville Sustainability Council. “It is a day for celebration, collaboration, and exploration that cannot be missed if you are concerned about creating a local climate action in Louisville.”

The keynote speaker, Dr. Brinkmann, is the author of several books and articles, including Introduction to Sustainability, the first major textbook on the topic. His new book, Environmental Sustainability in a Time of Change, will be published early next year. During his speech, he will present seven ways to advance your sustainability agenda in a time of change.

The Summit will also feature a panel of local leaders from Louisville Metro Government, TreesLouisville, Harshaw-Trane, and the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Programiscussing how their organizations are working to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Youth activism and performance group The Mighty Shades of Ebony also will debut their new song on climate change, titled “Anthropogenic.”

The Sustainability Summit is proud to receive support from Patron Sponsor Yum! Brands; Champion Sponsors Genentech, TARC, Humana, and PNC Bank; Summit Friend Sponsor CMTA; and Supporting Sponsors Harshaw Trane, K. Norman Berry Associates, Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District, the Partnership for a Green City, WestRock, and Stantec.

The summit will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1, at the Louisville Zoo. Tickets are available to Louisville Sustainability Council members for $45, to the general public for $60, and to college students with an ID for $30.

More information and registration can be found on the Louisville Sustainability Council website: http://louisvillesustainabilitycouncil.org/2019-sustainability-summit. 

Louisville Metro is looking for someone to donate the large Christmas tree that will stand in Jefferson Square Park through the holidays.

“This tree will be the centerpiece of Light Up Louisville and the city’s month-long celebration of the holidays,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “We’ve been blessed with good luck in finding the perfect Christmas tree every year. If you believe you have one that fits the bill, please give us a call.”

The tree should be a spruce or fir, about 40 feet tall, healthy and well-shaped. The city will cut and transport the tree to its prominent spot across from Metro Hall at Sixth and Jefferson streets. Anyone interested in donating a tree should call Metro 311 or Louisville Parks and Recreation at (502) 574-7275. The tree donor will attend the Light Up Louisville sponsor reception as a featured guest of the city as well as the Light Up celebration.

Light Up Louisville is held annually on the day after Thanksgiving. This year, the event, in its 39th year, will be held on Friday, Nov. 29.

The tree will be moved with the support of LG&E, Bob Ray Company and Louisville Parks and Recreation.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, through its What Works Cities initiatives, has selected Louisville as one of five American cities to implement an innovative early childhood education program designed to empower parents and caregivers with tools to support language development at a critical age — and help children enter kindergarten classroom ready.

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), in partnership with Louisville Metro Government, Jefferson County Public Schools, Metro United Way, and other community partners that make up the Ready for K Alliance, will expand its Say & Play with Words initiative. This expansion will incorporate the curriculum of Providence Talks, a Bloomberg-funded program in Providence, R.I. In addition to Bloomberg Philanthropies, Say & Play with Words is funded by Lift a Life Foundation, Louisville Metro Government, PNC Grow Up Great®, Metro United Way, the Gheens Foundation, and C. E. and S. Foundation.

“We’re thankful to Bloomberg Philanthropies and our local partners for supporting Louisville families with the needed support to be ready for school on Day 1,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “Louisville is in a period of unprecedented economic momentum, but we know the benefits aren’t being experienced equally across the community. There’s a disparity with deep and disturbing roots in our history. Through efforts such as Say & Play with Words, SummerWorks, Evolve502 and more, our core city value of lifelong learning continues to be a major piece of our efforts to erase this disparity.”

The expanded Say & Play with Words program, championed and supported by the community partners over the next three years, will be centered on creating playgroups and parent groups in targeted Louisville ZIP code areas that demonstrate high percentages of children not ready for kindergarten.

NCFL will serve as the lead implementor of the expansion, building on existing city infrastructure with new and current NCFL partner sites. The local effort will integrate innovative LENA (Language ENvironment Analysis) technology to track and measure words used in the home to gauge parent behavior change as a result of participation. Over three years, more than 1,200 families will participate in Say & Play with Words.

“The National Center for Families Learning is excited to lead our community partners in the expansion of Say & Play with Words. This inaugural support from Bloomberg Philanthropies allows us to engage parents and children together in informal settings like play groups and parent-facilitated parent groups. In our 30 years of working with millions of families across the country, we have found that the two key ingredients to support the success of the family are: empowering parents through education and bringing the family together to learn.” Sharon Darling, CEO & Founder of NCFL shared.

Combined with local investments, the support provided across five cities totals nearly $12 million over three years. The other four cities that are replicating Providence Talks are: Birmingham, AL; Detroit, MI; Hartford, CT; and Virginia Beach, VA.

Providence Talks was the first-ever Grand Prize Winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, an innovation competition that awards and promotes cities with bold, inventive ideas that address urgent challenges and have the most potential for impact and the ability to spread to other cities.

The program provides families with a small recording LENA device known as a ‘word pedometer’ that counts adult words spoken in a child’s presence, as well as the number of conversational interactions a child engages in during the day. Research shows that robust exposure to words and conversation—from birth to age four—is crucial for children’s vocabulary building and brain development.

“Providence Talks shows just why we launched the Mayors Challenge: to help cities take on big challenges, test innovative ideas, and then spread what works best,” said Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and the 108th Mayor of New York City. “Providence Talks has had promising results, helping thousands of young children increase their language development. Today, we’re glad to help five new cities adapt the program and work to achieve similar progress.”

A Brown University study of Providence Talks found:

  • Children who participated in the program made significant gains in the number of words they heard and turns they took in conversations and in language development.
  • In the Home Visitation model, 56% of all children showed growth in the number of adult words they heard and 42% increased their number of turns taken in conversations.
  • In the Playgroup model, 73% of all the children showed growth in the number of adult words they hear daily and 56% increased their number of turns taken in conversations.
  • The largest gains were seen in children who started the furthest behind. These children, on average, showed a 51% growth in the number of adult words they hear daily, going from an average of 8,000 to over 12,100 words per day. This jump from the 11th to the 42nd percentile in eight months is substantial, moving from the lowest quartile of words heard to about the average level.
  • By the end of the program, children in the program showed, on average, a 15 percentile point increase in the Developmental Snapshot score, a tool used to measure a child’s development progress (or language skills).

Bloomberg Philanthropies will support this programming with grants in each city. Cities will also receive the technology and software, including talk pedometer devices, software, and other tools required to replicate the approach. These critical technological resources are provided by LENA, a national nonprofit organization that develops technology to measure talk.

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