By Ted AYALA
Glendale City Council commended a local student Tuesday night for her winning entry in the city’s “I Love My Neighborhood” poster competition.
Alexandra Schwalbach, a fifth grade student of Mountain View Elementary School, was chosen as the winner of the citywide competition.
Running annually since 1993, the event was developed to encourage the city’s young people and their families to take pride in their neighborhoods and to be more aware of their civic responsibilities.
This year’s theme for the contest was “Me + Recycling = My Glendale.” Over 4,500 contestants entered the contest in 2014, from which 65 finalists were drawn. Winners are awarded tree planting on their behalf by the Committee for a Clean and Beautiful Glendale and the Dept. of Neighborhood Services.
Margaret Hammond, who sits on the competition’s committee, praised Schwalbach’s entry, as well as the message the contest sends to the public.
“This program is one of the best in enabling young people to become good citizens of our city,” she said. “It helps to … keep our city beautiful.”
Mayor Zareh Sinanyan, who presented the commendation to Schwalbach, praised her for trying her hand again and again at the contest. Though she has entered the contest before, this was her first time being picked as a finalist.
“It’s a story of perseverance,” he told her. “You and your parents should be proud.”
For Schwalbach, it was smiles over her win.
“It was very exciting. It felt amazing,” she said. “So many people entered and tried their hardest to win. It’s really cool.”
Among her duties as winner will be representing Glendale at several regional events.
“Every year I go in the back [room] before it starts and try to pick the winner,” said Councilmember Dave Weaver. “Yours was one of my top picks.”
The winners of the competition were chosen in a ceremony held April 9 at the Glendale Civic Auditorium.
Council also moved forward on Tuesday with an upgrade of Glendale Water & Power’s (GWP) integrated voice recognition (IVR) software used for its billing system.
IVR systems are employed in order to smooth call traffic and help customer service staff to focus on handling the most important calls.
The council approved two contracts with Tele-Works, Inc. of Blacksburg, Virginia whereby the firm would upgrade the existing IVR system, as well as agreeing to a three-year period of maintenance. The contracts were for $130,290 and $103,731 respectively.
The city’s current system was originally installed in 2004, with Tele-Works as the partner firm with the overall billing system.
“So as the upgrade for this software became available, we made the decision to … simply negotiate the upgrade of the existing software system,” said GWP General Manager Steve Zurn.
The upgraded system runs in conjunction with another IVR system designed by Tele-Works known as Northstar.
“We’ve had virtually no problems with them working together,” Zurn said. “We’re not [going] to take [a] risk with software that hasn’t been proven.”