Jim Herndon, Planner – ADA Coordinator, City of Charlottesville
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born at the old Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, and raised in Rochelle in Madison County.
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
We moved to Albemarle County in 1976. I was working with the Thomas Jefferson Planning Commission at the time and wanted to be closer to the office.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
We live in the Blenheim community near Scottsville.
Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
We have three children and four grandchildren.
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I graduated from Orange County High School and Germanna Community College.
What were you doing before you came to work for the City?
I was mapping for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission.
Your job title is Planner – ADA Coordinator – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
I perform mapping and GIS tasks for the City. I am also the 911 Administrator for the City, responsible for addressing within the City and making sure that addresses within the City are logical and are identifiable by the Emergency Operations Center in case of an emergency. A great deal of my time is spent monitoring the City’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes staffing the ADA Advisory Committee, overseeing the implementation of the City’s ADA Transition Plan that was updated last year, and addressing ADA issues that come up on a daily basis.
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
The best part of my job is when I am able to use City policies to improve someone’s life or environment, especially as it relates to a person with a disability. I find my job difficult at times when, as a public servant, I am unable to help deserving citizens in the community because of circumstances beyond our control such as funding limitations.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
Many people feel that the ADA only effects people with disabilities, but as our society ages and as people are more active later in life, the policies and requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act have a real effect on more and more citizens. A good example of the ADA helping someone, other than a person with a disability, is ramps and curb ramps. While these are meant to assist people with mobility issues, a mother with a baby stroller also benefits from the service they provide.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the City?
In the 1980’s, I administered a grant from the Federal Highway Administration concerning Bike Safety. For thirteen years, I coordinated safety education programs in the City’s elementary schools that included safety rodeos at each school, participation in the Dogwood Festival Parade, and a poster contest that awarded a reconditioned bicycle from the City’s stock of recovered bikes. For years afterwards, I was approached by young adults that reminded me that they had participated in one or more of those activities. That experience gave me a chance to administer and coordinate a program which was very beneficial to the community.
What is a little-known fact about you?
My passion is to write. I have published two memoirs on my early years growing up in Madison County. I contracted Acute Encephalitis at age twelve. These two books, Jack’s Shop: Beyond the Front Porch and Jack’s Shop: The Long Road Back chronicle my early days in Madison County and my recovery from the crippling disease.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
I write and make outlines of future books, play guitar, and when I have the time I love to fish.