Westerville Utilities Launch Commercial Advanced Metering
Kriss Rogers, owner of the specialty home and garden store Outside Envy in Uptown Westerville, says she would not have paid much attention to the installation of an updated utility meter in her shop. That is, until the meter alerted the City of Westerville to a water problem.
The new digital meter system in Rogers’ shop is part of the City’s Commercial Advanced Metering program. As one of the replacements in the commercial Uptown district, the automated device alerted staff to a water flow issue in the building that may have otherwise gone undetected.
“The installation and presence of the meter almost goes unnoticed until you have a situation like mine where it detected the issue,” said Rogers. “Then, the ‘people’ part comes into play. The Water Division came in first to be sure that the water supply was not being jeopardized by my issue, but then went the extra mile and help solve the problem that I was experiencing in-store.”
The commercial advanced meter program is now nearly 1,000 meters, or approximately halfway, into the project. A significant portion of commercial/industrial locations in Westerville have had utility meters replaced and updated from the analog meters, which required manual readings. With new digital meters, businesses in Westerville have access to new features provided by this technology, including improved customer service, immediate alerts of outages and flags that indicate potential problems.
It’s another key advantage to doing business in Westerville, according to City Manager David Collinsworth. “For more than a century, the City of Westerville has remained among the few central Ohio municipalities to own and maintain their own utilities, which includes the water and electric service,” he said. “This allows the City to provide our own support as well as maintain the quality and cost control that have historically been among the most competitive in the region.”
The Westerville Electric Division and Water Division serve more than 36,000 residents and a daytime/business population nearly double that. With advancements in technology, electric and water systems have been moving toward advanced metering systems that measure and report data directly to the utility. The technology, having evolved from the manual to automated process, has expanded utility providers’ capability for providing near real-time information for business owners so that they can monitor and control their own usage of electricity and water.
In Westerville, the current program is limited to commercial accounts.* The replacement schedule continues through June, with a new online Customer Care portal available by the end of the year. This program will give customers direct access to their usage, along with a variety of tools to modify, adapt or change usage patterns.
The meter replacement effort is focused on pairing business services and technology to best serve Westerville businesses. “It’s those kinds of people and service that make Westerville an excellent place to do business,” says Rogers.
For more information on the Commercial Advanced Metering Program, please visit www.westerville.org.
*The Westerville Electric and Water Divisions are accepting residential volunteers for meter replacements. There is no charge to the resident, and users will be enrolled in the Customer Care portal on the same timeline as commercial accounts. To place your name on a wait list, please contact the Westerville Electric Division at 614-901-6700.
Ed Townsend Named 2012 Employee of the Year
Each December, the City of Westerville recognizes outstanding employees who have demonstrated excellent performance, productivity, loyalty, pride and responsibility. “Employee of the Year” candidates are nominated by their peers and/or supervisors. A committee comprised of City staff reviews the applications, selecting recipients of the Excellence in Service Award and one Employee of the Year. The City of Westerville is pleased to announce Ed Townsend, Customer Service Representative from the Finance Department/Utility Billing Services, was named the 2012 Employee of the Year.
Congratulations on this achievement. What does this award mean to you?
It’s such an honor. I know many of the past award recipients and have the utmost respect for them. It is unbelievable that I am mentioned in the same group as them. And I greatly appreciate that my hard work has been recognized. I would like to thank Dave Collinsworth; Lee Ann Shortland; Gina Love; my immediate supervisor who nominated me, Caryn Dachner; the committee that selected me and all my co-workers.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Westerville. I have seen a lot of changes since the early year of 1959.
How long have you worked for Westerville? When did you get started?
I have worked for Westerville for 14 years. I started as a part-time meter reader in February 1999.
What is a typical day for you in the Utility Billing division?
I basically go over all the meter reads from the residents and businesses of Westerville that come in to the office every day to make sure they are accurate. I also answer the phones and help customers with their questions and problems. I also enter exchanged meters into the computer, so I work closely with the zoning, electric and water departments.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had in nearly 14 years with the City?
I remember that I helped a customer whose mother had passed away. She had sold her mother’s house and I helped her with what she needed to accomplish. She wrote a letter saying that I helped her through a very rough and difficult period. What was so special about that letter was that she took time to praise my actions. Usually, people only write letters to complain. That was very nice of her to acknowledge someone doing the right thing.
What stands out as one of the most challenging experiences, and how did you overcome it?
We only have three full-time employees, one part-time employee and my supervisor in our department. Last year, we lost one full-time and our part-time employees. We are also deploying new meters to our commercial accounts. I learned to work with co-workers more closely, and prioritize daily tasks to make the day go more smoothly.
What is something about the programs you manage that people may not know?
We bill more than 16,000 accounts each and every month.
What do you do in your leisure time?
I have adopted one special needs child and I’m in the process of adopting another special needs child, so there is not much leisure time. I do love to play and watch sports, and I love to go to Disney World as I am a Disney Vacation Club member.
Congratulations to the 2012 Excellence in Service Award Winners: J oe Bargdill, Planning & Development Aaron Dickison, Division of Police Nick Jones, Division of Fire Sandy Kitzmiller, Division of Fire Dan Koch, Westerville Electric Division Nancy Mattiello, Mayor’s Court Margi Rundio, Parks & Recreation Rebecca Stalnaker, Finance James Tharp, Division of Fire
The 2012 Safety Matters Award was presented to the Westerville Electric Division. The criteria for the award is not limited to actual accident or incident occurrences over this year, but accumulated points for safety trainings, institution of safe practices and policies, safety-related staff meetings, and adherence to the City’s injury reporting procedures. Consistently high marks in these areas are evidence of a strong culture of safety within the Electric Division. Congratulations!
Westerville Citizen’s Academy Goes Behind the Scenes
The City of Westerville has launched a new program that offers participants behind-the-scenes access to known and little-known City services and programs. The Westerville Citizen’s Academy (WCA), a citizen-oriented experience, is based on the concept of Westerville’s successful academy programs from the Westerville Divisions of Police and Fire. The model is also popular in other cities as a community engagement program to give residents an opportunity to interact with City departments, staff and services.
WCA is a seven-week program that takes place two times a year, in the spring and fall. Participants take part in a two-hour class one night a week during the term of the course. Each week is focused on interactive features, such as exploring equipment, tours, demonstrations and hands-on activities.
“Any question from what happens during a power outage to how our community water is sourced and treated will be answered during this experience,” said David Collinsworth, City Manager. “This program is designed for the Westerville resident, to show them every aspect of how their community services are put to work.”
All residents are invited to participate, especially those who have an interest in serving the community on a Board or Commission.
For more information, or to access the WCA application, please visit www.westerville.org/WCA or contact us at (614)-901-6400.
Mobile App for City Services Now Available
Your guide to City services is now just a download away on your smartphone. The City of Westerville mobile application, or “app,” is now available for Android devices and iPhone through Google Play and the Apple App Store, respectively.
The app is an extension of the City’s mobile website, which has been available since 2010 when the City launched a new public website. The platforms work together to keep information, alerts and news from the City up-to-date, consistent and user-friendly.
“Cities have done applications on large and small scales,” said Todd Jackson, Chief Information Officer for the City of Westerville. “Our objective for this app was to package the most intuitive options to City services that people want to launch from their phones. We used the technology in which we’ve already invested and created functionality that works easily on the go, when and where most users may be accessing it.”
Users of the app can quickly find City contacts and building locations, as well as maps and sites of parks and trails. Shortcuts to news, events and social media networks are also included. The app offers quick access to permits and forms, as well as a link to submit a service request. Local information, including weather and local gas prices, are also buttons accessible from the welcome screen.
The City featured two areas of town for special emphasis, particularly for the benefit of visitors or new residents. The Uptown district, known for unique shopping, entertainment and dining, is featured in a directory-style format, along with tips for parking. Westerville’s high-profile access to health care along the Cleveland Avenue corridor, dubbed the “Medical Mile,” is included with a listing of the major medical and health providers in that region.
The app is in its first version, and will be regularly reviewed to expand and enhance its functionality. For more information, or to send feedback to staff, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hop to it for Popular Spring Events
Two of spring’s most popular community events are just ahead. Mark your calendars now to participate in the Bunny Hop 5K Run/Walk and Spring Eggstravaganza on Saturday, March 30 at Hoff Woods Park.
The second annual Bunny Hop 5K goes in and around the park, including portions of the leisure/bike paths. The scenic route is good for walkers and runners alike. And the event is family-friendly, so participants may bring jogging/walking strollers.
The adult race begins at 8 a.m. and the youth race starts at 9 a.m. Registration fees are $30 in advance and $35 the day of the race. Each participant receives a tech T-shirt, a finisher’s medal, prizes, coupons and refreshments. The top five male and female finishers will win gift cards to Fleet Feet.
The Bunny Hop benefits the Westerville Parks Foundation Scholarship Program, which provides financial assistance to Westerville residents in need for Parks and Recreation programs and activities. The event is presented by the Westerville Parks Foundation and Premier Sports and sponsored by Mt. Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital.
After the race, head over to the ball fields for the annual Spring Eggstravaganza egg hunt, sponsored by the Westerville Lions Club.
Colored eggs and special prizes are spread throughout the fields for an 11 a.m.-sharp dash. Arrive early to find the right field (kids line up according to age) and bring a basket. The event is held rain or shine, so dress for the weather.
Income Tax Forms Available Online
Forms are available on the City of Westerville website for 2012 income tax, due Monday, April 15. Visit www.westerville.org/incometax or look for links from the front page of the site to access forms and helpful links. The Income Tax Department offers assistance to all filers, including form preparation, expanded office hours and e-filing services. For more information, contact the department or stop by the office to speak with a representative.
64 E. Walnut Street Westerville, Ohio 43081 Phone: 614-901-6420 Fax: 614-901-6820 Email: email@example.com Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mark your Calendar!
Half Pint Hullabaloo
March 16, 9:30 a.m.-noon
Cost: $3 per child at the door
Location: Westerville Community Center
Keep your little ones entertained in a budget-friendly way. Half-Pint Hullabaloo is for parents and children ages 1 to 5. This award-winning event features activities and games.
Home Landscape Seminar
Tree Care and Home Gardening
March 23, 9 a.m.-noon
Location: Westerville Community Center, Maple Room A
Learn more about tree care, storm preparedness, organic fertilizers, application methods and invasive plants. For more information or to register, call 614-901-6500.
By the Numbers
Number of students in the Westerville City School district impacted in 2012 by the Westerville Energy Education Partnership.*
*The Ohio Energy Project, City of Westerville Electric Division and Westerville City Schools make up the Westerville Energy Education Partnership. Their programs promote energy efficiency in the Westerville community. For more information, call the Westerville Electric Division at 614-901-6700.