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Mayors of Utah Valley: Vineyard’s staff appreciation week

By Julie Fullmer - Vineyard mayor | Sep 25, 2021

Vineyard city employees pose with their trophy during Staff Appreciation Week. (Courtesy Vineyard)

Every September, we spend a week recognizing and appreciating the contributions of all members of our staff from every department for Vineyard’s Staff Appreciation Week.

“We often use the words ‘recognition’ and ‘appreciation’ interchangeably, but there’s a big difference between them. The former is about giving positive feedback based on results or performance. The latter, on the other hand, is about acknowledging a person’s inherent value.”

During this week, we celebrate both the recognition of the year, and we appreciate each person as a member of our team and what makes Vineyard great.

Throughout the week, we held several team competitions: A breakfast cook-off, a board game afternoon and on the last day, the teams participated in the Vineyard Olympics — round robin tournaments in pickle-ball, corn hole and Kan Jam. We awarded the winning team from all the competitions a trophy and had a wonderful lunch in Vineyard Grove Park to celebrate our accomplishments over the year and the people behind each of those successes. This is a great time to be together and get to know one another better.

There is a quote that hangs in my office — Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” — which reads, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Vineyard city employees pose during Staff Appreciation Week. (Courtesy Vineyard)

It has almost been four years since I was elected as the Mayor in November 2017. At that time, I spoke about the need to create clear communication and transparency within the city, and the importance to be seen by the state and to create key partnerships. I expressed the need to focus on transportation, infrastructure and economic development. I outlined plans to manage density, and create a safer, cleaner Vineyard.

These goals were not small for Vineyard. At the time there was really no way to communicate with the city. The records were inaccessible, our partnerships were sparse and there were incredible roadblocks in Vineyard’s path for completing our roads and building our economy. We had limited safety services, we had old and outdated plans, but we had expansive growth. It would take a lot of restructuring, teamwork, and hardworking individuals with flexibility and innovation to accomplish these goals.

Vineyard was around 6,000 people at the time, and thousands of those people came into Vineyard during the campaign season. The sparse partnerships we had were changing. Utah’s Department of Transportation Region 3 was making a regional change inviting in Rob Clayton. Utah Valley University was changing presidents. We had a few staff members, and we knew we were going to have to build a motivated team. What an incredible outcome.

We have a stellar relationship with Region 3, whose direction has created a team and atmosphere in his arena that is effective and efficient. Utah Valley University hired an incredible leader who built a team that has propelled innovation in their planning design, their strategic goals for our upcoming professionals and has partnered with Vineyard to help create a more connected community of education and employment.

Utah Transit Authority’s regional manager works with great enthusiasm and devotion, creating successes that would be lost without her. Mountainland Association of Governments and their team tirelessly serve and lobby for a region facing explosive growth, helping to shape the communities emerging from the internal growth within our state. New developers acquired the land in Vineyard bringing in better vision, opportunity and collaboration.

Vineyard mayor Julie Fullmer meeting with staff from Vineyard and Utah County to deliver sandbags to Cedar City and Moab. (Courtesy Vineyard)

In 2018, the General Plan, a master plan for the community, was created to manage density, bring in sustainable development to the right places, preserve open space, innovate agriculture and update planned areas to be more connected, cleaner and safer. Open spaces were incorporated, finite resources preserved, recreation was enhanced and the city was designed in a way that facilitated better overall quality of life for the community. Massive public engagement forums were produced with key stakeholder groups forming to create plans for the zoning to better fit the needs of our community. For the last four years, the City Council has successfully defended our plans.

Vineyard needed an emphasis on sustainable, innovative solutions with strong collaboration. We needed to update our systems and reduce redundancy. Several successful technological pilot programs and structural advancements in Vineyard were made — and our partnerships and collaboration are strong.

In 2017, there were five infrastructure projects that needed to be finished. The city was struggling to complete them due to lack of funding and complicated relationships with regional, state and private partners. These projects were:

  • The Center Street overpass
  • The removal and realignment of railroad track
  • The Vineyard Connector
  • The FrontRunner Station
  • The water tank

Each of these projects were critical to Vineyard’s economic center and moving people throughout the community and region. The Center Street overpass was done on time and under budget after being funded by the city itself. The staff members worked through the night to make this possible! The air rights went through the U.S. Supreme Court, and after a lot of effort from hardworking people, the rights were turned over to the community.

Excellent relationships have been built with Union Pacific railroad, and we were able to finalize a west-to-east connection in the city. Additionally, the rail-spur line — the train tracks along Geneva Road — realignment had been unsolvable for many years. However, several meetings with U.S. senators, state representatives and Union Pacific railroad moved the contract forward. Additional funding was found and the designing phase of the realignment is in progress. These people all were fighting hard serving the people of Vineyard.

Mayor Julie Fullmer meeting with key stakeholders on Vineyard Connector Funding. (Courtesy Kathryn Newman Photography)

The Vineyard Connector is a road from the Utah Department of Transportation. Census records show Vineyard is growing at 10,000% and exhibiting the need for this connection to 1600 N. State funding was five to eight years away for the next phase. However, great partnerships and negotiations helped bring in the second phase of the Vineyard Connector tying Main Street to 1600 N. With great support from our employees, state representatives and staffers, leaders through the region have turned this from a need into a reality.

The FrontRunner was another roadblock to Vineyard’s economic center. Large companies stipulated their contracts based on the FrontRunner station’s arrival. In 2018, we received $4 million for the project. However, as we started the design, the federal government’s unfunded positive-train-control mandate came in, and another $20 million was needed to complete double tracking in northern Utah County for additional stations to open.

With great efforts from the Utah Transit Advisory Council and Trustees, Utah County Governments, Mayors, Commissioners and at-large members, state employees and representatives, the $20 million for the double tracking for Utah County’s future frontrunner stations was obtained. This has increased contracts in the transit-oriented development and economic center in Vineyard.

As the city continues to build out, the need to secure water and build capacity for water storage has expanded. Countless individuals have worked to obtain land, design the storage capacity and fund the water tank. This is critical to the infrastructure of our economic center, and the residents of our community. We have created secondary water sources, re-use solutions and conservation plans to preserve our finite resources.

In the last three years, all of the projects were either resolved, funded, completed, nearing completion or beginning construction. Each of these infrastructure projects were created with strong connections to development and resources while opening Vineyard to economic vitality where it was previously severed. Economic development has soared in the last several years. When the pandemic hit, we were just beginning to build on our momentum.

Courtesy Vineyard Mayor Julie Fullmer

Mayor Julie Fullmer (Courtesy Vineyard)

Together my council and staff deregulated wherever possible to keep our economy open. This created paths for companies to continue building in Vineyard throughout the pandemic. That preservation helped contracts with anchor tenants and grocers maintain, and now contracts are underway as the pandemic begins to lift.

We now have full coverage with exceptional response times from first responders and below average crime rates. We have been setting money aside for a fire station, and we continue to find ways to advance our coverage for residents and make partnerships with our local and regional hospitals to create well-connected, and healthy, community systems. We have implemented strong communication processes with emergency notification systems, online city council and planning commission streaming services, survey applications including Assemble, a quick online response team on our website with Podium and a constituent-facing atmosphere within the city.

The transparency which had been lacking, and the records which had been obscured before, are now open, digitized, on-time and easy to access for the public. Vineyard is actively engaged in bettering the community, coming to the table of decision-making and fighting for the needs of the individuals and neighborhoods of Vineyard.

These things are critical to the growth of our city and the quality of life of our residents. Behind every goal and idea and need to be accomplished was a hard working group of individuals fighting to accomplish the tasks set before them bringing each into reality for the people of this community and state.

It goes without saying that great ideas often remain dormant because people don’t sacrifice. They don’t always have the courage or resources — both time and money — to take action. In many situations, those who have goals can be unprepared or inflexible, and just like that, the dream is lost. I extend gratitude and appreciation for all of the people who have helped build our community with great preparation, sacrifice, dedication and incredible success.

To our staff and the many hands with effective, outstanding teams that have collaborated with us to create such achievements: There is so much more that could not be mentioned here, and so much in Vineyard left to be done. There are some that will retire from their posts, and yet it will not take away from what they gave to this community and the time they spent in the “Arena” creating such an exquisite place to live.

I continue to invite all current and future public servants to serve with passion, integrity, an enduring dedication with a forceful work ethic, a listening ear and a deep commitment to the people of the community — because that is what creates beautiful, long-lasting societies. My passion for Vineyard, dedication for our growing state and gratitude for the people working hard for our communities continues to build. Happy Vineyard Staff Appreciation week.

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