Friday, May 21, 2010

I-15 Expansion

If you drive a car in Utah County, you don't need me to tell you that UDOT has launched its Utah County I-15 corridor expansion.

One of the largest roadway projects in the state's history, the expansion will add two new travel lanes in each direction, from Lehi to Spanish Fork. In those 24 miles, 10 freeway interchanges will be rebuilt or improved and 55 bridges will be replaced or restored. The rebuild is expected to meet or exceed travel demands through the year 2030, and, according to the project literature, " is an important investment to restore aging infrastructure, address long-term transportation needs and improve the movement of goods and services throughout the state."

With construction already underway, the UDOT public involvement team has been making the rounds, making sure that businesses and residents have the best information available in order to minimize inconvenience. The team visited a recent City Council meeting and offered information specific to American Fork. Did you know:
  • The Sam White bridge will be reconstructed early in the project, with supports being built during summer 2010, and bridge farm work beginning in fall 2010.
  • The 500 East interchange will see a smaller version of the diverging diamond, very similar to the diamond which is nearing completion at Main Street.
  • The Lehi-Pleasant Grove stretch is the first section of the project to be constructed, with completion slated for June 2012.
  • We on the Lehi-Pleasant Grove stretch have our very own public involvement coordinator to whom we may address concerns and complaints. Her name is Amalia Deslis, and she can be reached through the contact link at the project Web site.
The tight, 2.5-year construction schedule has been called "ambitious" and "very aggressive," but those are the last words we will be thinking during rush hours over the next couple years. Delays are expected to run 30 to 60 minutes during rush hour and one to two hours during holiday weekends.

Because of this, I am issuing two personal pleas here at the blog.

  • First, turn off the ignition! Not while you're "parked" in freeway gridlock, but at other times. Gridlock means idling cars, which in turn means poor air quality. We can mitigate this problem, at least in part, by turning off the ignition when we're, say, talking to the bank teller or waiting in the pick-up lane at school.
  • Second, reduce that carbon footprint by carpooling, combining trips, and, if you're an employer, offering alternative work schedules. Faced with similar challenges in Seattle, Washington, Boeing Aerospace adopted staggered work schedules at its various plants, and freeway congestion was relieved considerably.
American Fork's commuters can access a wealth of project and construction information by visiting the project Web site, The Web site offers up-to-the-minute traffic information, regular email updates, and text message alerts. It also sends out updates via Twitter and Facebook. It provides all the latest news. It features an interactive map to teach about project design. For employers, commuters, and students, it offers TravelWise, a program to support carpooling, telecommuting, alternative work schedules, and greater use of public transportation.

I encourage you to visit the site soon. The more time you spend there, the less you'll spend in traffic.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wild in the Park

I am rather a sedate sort of person -- turning the pages of a book is my idea of aerobic exercise -- but even I was excited to hear about last weekend's Wild in The Park. The event was sponsored by Volcom, Inc., the national retailer of skateboarding clothing, and hosted here in American Fork at Greenwood Skate Park.

The first stop on a nationwide tour, the event drew more than 200 competitors, with 300 more coming just to watch. Volcom says this is the largest Wild in the Park they've had outside of the championships. There were no injuries, no incidents, just a great, fun day, and two of the three division winners were American Fork's own Chandler Seipert and Brodie Penrod. They will join the other winners at the national finals in Arizona this September.

Why, you ask, did I interrupt the riveting book I was reading to share this with you?

Two reasons:

1. Because I think the Greenwood Skate Park -- something I agitated for way back when -- has done a terrific job of providing AF's kids with fun, free entertainment, and because it beautifies our city by keeping their plywood skateboard-jumping-contraptions off our sidewalks.

2. Because this is a great example of cultural tourism -- or in this case, countercultural tourism -- bringing good money to American Fork. I don't have any actual figures to share, but if just twenty percent of Saturday's crowd bought a hamburger while they were here, or filled up the gas tank, then that was a significant boost to the City's job base and tax revenues.

For full details and some great pictures, follow this link and feel the energy.

Now, back to my book . . .

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Arbor Day 2010

If Spring can be late this year, then so can my post about Arbor Day.

On Friday, April 30, I was pleased to gather at Rotary Park with the mayor, members of the Beautification and Shade Tree Committee, Miss American Fork, and three fourth-grade classes from Greenwood Elementary. Our objective: to plant trees in observance of Arbor Day.

The Beautification Committee has made one of its focuses the reforestation of Rotary Park, and Arbor Day is the ideal vehicle to make this happen. An annual Arbor Day observance is one of the requirements the City must meet in order to continue its status as a Tree City USA. Reforestation is important at Rotary Park because most of its trees are the same variety and the same age. A tree-specific disease or parasite could wipe out all its trees at one time.

Budgets being tight this year, the City was grateful to accept donated trees from Tri-City Nursery and Home Depot: two London plane sycamore and one pin oak. After the mayor and Miss American Fork targeted a few well chosen remarks at their fourth-grade audience, the children were invited to help plant the trees, and American Fork became a little bit better.

Did you know that urban trees provide significant social benefits? The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champain reports the following findings based on recent studies:
The symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children are relieved after contact with nature. Specifically, ADHD kids are better able to concentrate, complete tasks, and follow directions after playing in natural settings. The greener the setting, the greater the relief.
Higher self-discipline in at-risk girls can be achieved through increased exposure to nature. The higher a girl's self-discipline, the better able she is to pursue a healthy, more successful life.
Green spaces inhibit crime in urban areas. Vegetation has been shown to alleviate mental fatigue, one of the precursors to violent behavior. And because green spaces are used more, there's a sense that there are more eyes on the street, which may deter would-be criminals from committing crimes where they think they are being watched. Greenery also promotes a greater sense of community -- even in poorer, inner-city neighborhoods -- leading residents to feel safer and to behave more civilly toward one another.
For more information, visit the Web site of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

To ponder the many other economic, environmental, and psychological benefits of trees, please take a minute to read the Arbor Day Proclamation, which Mayor Hadfield signed, by following this link.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Volunteer Week Proclamation

On April 13, the City Council authorized Mayor Hadfield to sign the following proclamation:


WHEREAS, the entire community can inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world; and

WHEREAS, a sense of caring and a desire to share have motivated hundreds of men and women and boys and girls to volunteer their time and services to the needs of others in the community by helping the sick, the elderly, or by enriching the lives of all through the arts, recreation and cultural activities, or by serving on boards and committees; and

WHEREAS, volunteers are increasingly recognized as important partners with government and industry in providing services to citizens; and

WHEREAS, individuals and communities are at the center of social change, discovering their power to make a difference; and

WHEREAS, during this week all over the nation, service projects will be performed and volunteers recognized for their service; and

WHEREAS, the giving of oneself in service to another empowers the giver and the recipient; and

WHERAS, our country's volunteer force of over 61 million is a great treasure; and

WHEREAS, volunteers are vital to our future as a caring and productive nation; and

WHEREAS, volunteering efforts offer everyone, young and old, the opportunity to participate in the life of their community and to link their talents and resources to address some of the major issues facing our communities; and

WHEREAS, it is fitting for all American Fork residents to join in this celebration of our rich volunteer heritage and to give special recognition to the dedicated volunteers and volunteer programs which contribute immeasurably to our city;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, James H. Hadfield, Mayor of American Fork City do hereby proclaim April 19-24, 2010, as


and urge my fellow citizens to volunteer in our community and to participate in American Fork City's Volunteer Week activities and to pay tribute to those who serve.

Volunteerism in American Fork

Today my blog pays tribute to the many acts of service, large and small, performed in American Fork not only during last April's Volunteer Week, but year in and year out.

Volunteerism not only makes the world a better place; it also makes us better people, keeps taxes low and gives us a way to take ownership of our community.

Now in its second year, Volunteer Week is the brainchild of last year's Miss American Fork Kaitlin Hale. The tradition has been carried forward with the help of this year's Miss American Fork, Hailee Childs. Among other things, volunteers this year pitched in to clean Art Dye Park, donate blood, wash windows, pick up litter, and raise money for the library.

At the Wednesday evening volunteer fair, speaker Leslie Dalton addressed the many benefits of volunteering, and her remarks energized us all. Recipient of the Bennion Center Continuous Community Service Award and one of American Fork's most persistent volunteers, Ms. Dalton taught us that volunteer service should help someone else, but it should change you.

She reminded us that service doesn't have to be big to mean something, and urged us to let our children see us serve. "Our children often don't see our regular, scheduled service for what it is," she said. "Occasionally they need to see us putting ourselves out, jumping up to meet an immediate need, or reorganizing our time to be able to do something for someone else.

"Service to your family," she said, "should be something you foster first--then take that philosophy or ethic out into the community."

In that spirit, the City was pleased to honor several community volunteers at the Thank You Concert, the culminating event of the week:
  • Gerry & Janet Laycock -- Human Services Award, in recognition of thoughtful humanitarian service to improve the quality of life in their neighborhood, community and worldwide.
  • Steve Soderquist -- Youth Services Award, in recognition of efforts to improve the lives of youth at the American Fork Library and Learning Center
  • Sharon Kettle -- Rising Star Award, in recognition of volunteer spirit to the community through contributions made to the Meals-on-Wheels program
  • Charles Funke -- Good Neighbor Award, in recognition for quietly volunteering to make his neighborhood a beautiful place to live
  • Cindy Holindrake -- Outstanding Board Volunteer Award, In recognition of exemplary volunteerism to the community through service on the American Fork Arts Council and Cemetery Committee
  • Beth Bigelow -- Arts and Culture Award, in recognition of selfless volunteerism to neighborhood and community to preserve our culture and history through small acts of kindness.
To these and to all American Fork's volunteers, I add my own thanks here at the blog. Whether you participate on one of the City's many volunteer committees, speak your mind at City Council meetings, or watch out for your neighbor's needs, you're making American Fork a better place. You're making this the kind of city we all want to live in.