02/26/13 Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter gave his State of the City Address Monday night during the Common Council meeting. 140 years was the theme of this year’s speech. He opened by high-lightening events of 1873 including: Mark Twain’s prime, the second inauguration of President Ulysses Grant, the train robberies in Iowa by Jesse James and the settlement in central Marshall County along the banks of the Yellow River of the incorporated City of Plymouth.
For the second State of the City in a row Mayor Senter spoke about Operation Bright Spot. He said, “It has not always been bright…matter of fact some have called it blight!” Last year he named names in order to get the attention of their owners. Mayor Mark said, “Most of these owners do not live and work in Marshall County or Plymouth. They do not notice the dilapidation ad degradation of their properties.” He vowed to keep the pressure on the building owners.
Mayor Senter noted a new program Monday night. An Adopt-A-Street program will give non-profits and youth groups a chance to take pride in a particular street by keeping it cleaned-up.
Methamphetamine was also a subject for the State of the City Address. Meth is a concern that Mayor Mark began talking about it 2008. He expressed his disappointment saying, “Meth is back with a vengeance,” and noting several of the most recent arrests made. The Mayor said he would be meeting with members of the prosecutor’s office, Plymouth Police Department, Indiana State Police and Sheriff’s Department to discuss the epidemic. He also proposed a Town Hall meeting this spring to discuss the issue with citizens of Plymouth.
Mayor Mark Senter also proposed the dedication of one police officer as a full-time school resource officer. He said, “Since Sandy Hook, school safety is back in for forefront.” In 2010 his administration began regular monthly meetings with the school administration to discuss things that are going on in the schools.
River Park Square made the State of the City Address as the mayor talked about the recent bid opening for demolition of the three building this spring, the new and improved Farmers’ Market area, additional green areas and the city’s new Christmas Tree.
The job market was on the Mayor’s mind during the State of the City Address especially with the looming closure of Whitley Products and the loss of 86 jobs. Senter mentioned the granting of several tax abatements during 2012. Zentis, Culver Tool, Hoosier Racing Tire and AK Industries all brought jobs and expansions to the city.
Mayor Senter took time to thank the “great employees of the city,” the full-time city attorney who has been with him for a year now, members of the Common Council, department heads, and the Clerk-Treasurer who’s financial leadership has put the city in great shape for not only this year but may years to come.
Mayor Mark’s complete speach follows:
STATE OF THE CITY
February 27, 2013
The Citizens of Plymouth
Members of the Common Council
Madam Clerk Treasurer Toni Hutchings
Members of the media
Good evening and thank you for this opportunity to address the Common Council tonight on the status of this wonderful city in which we live and work. It is my distinct pleasure for five years now to serve the City of Plymouth as your mayor.
140 years is the theme of tonight’s State of The City
- Mark Twain was in his prime
- The nation witnessed the second inauguration of President Ulysses S. Grant
- Jesse James took up train robberies in Iowa
- A settlement in Central Marshall County along the banks of the Yellow River was incorporated as the City of Plymouth, Indiana.
We’ve come a long way since 1873. Our nation has seen two world wars and seven regional wars since then. We have had depressions, booms, recessions and turn-arounds. The City itself has grown and changed since 1873 as well. It is much different today with box stores and fast food restaurants; new technology; many subdivisions; the best of utilities desired by many other municipalities in the Midwest; a flourishing airport; a street department like no other; police and fire departments that keep us safe in the wee hours of the morning; a great park system; full-time services of engineering and law; and probably the most glaring: sound fiscal discipline that is the envy of many other cities and towns.
But at the same time, we still have that same spirit that the founding fathers had in 1873…the same ingenuity and adaptability that characterizes us as Hoosiers.
For the second State of The City in a row talking about OPERATION BRIGHT SPOT! It has not always been bright…matter of fact some have called it blight! We have businesses in this area whose out-of-town owners need to step-up and clean-up their sites. Last year I named names in order to get the attention of those owners and so far we have heard from a few. Most of these owners do not live and work in Marshall County or Plymouth. They do not notice the dilapidation and degradation of their properties. They do not realize the impact on Plymouth’s property values. And apparently the do not care! Working with the Marshall County Health Department and Building Commissioner Keith Hammonds we will keep the pressure on these buildings’ owners. The awful Plymouth Motel is gone…we are trying our best to work with the owner of Park Jefferson Apartments but we have found that that is not an easy task…we had a meeting just last week with the owner of the Comfort Suites to find out what his action plan is going to be…letters have been sent to the owners of the Clark Gas Station and the Economy Inn motel on the north side. A new program I’m introducing tonight is an Adopt-A-Street program that will give not-for-profits and youth groups a chance to take pride in a particular street and keep in cleaned-up.
But we cannot be a BRIGHTER SPOT ON THE MAP as long as we have a methamphetamine issue. This is a concern that I began talking about in 2008 and I really thought that we have made headway over the years, but in my opinion, Meth is back with a vengeance. In the last month a prominent youth leader was arrested for meth east of town. Here in Plymouth two children were found in a lab at Country Place Apartments. We have a meeting scheduled this Friday with members of the prosecutor’s office, PPD, ISP and the MCSD to discuss this awful epidemic that has re-invaded our community. I look forward to another town hall meeting sometime in April or May to discuss this issue with the citizens of Plymouth.
And staying with public safety, in 2010 this administration began meeting with members of the administrative staff at the Plymouth Community School Corporation. Chiefs Bacon and Miller as well as detectives and DARE Officer Mark Owen meet with Mr. Tyree, Mr. Condon and Mr. Olsen to discuss what is going on in the schools. This has culminated in great rapport with members of the corporation. Since Sandy Hook, school safety is back in the forefront and I believe it is time to dedicate one police officer as a full-time school resource officer.
Just last week the Plymouth Redevelopment commission opened bids for demolition of three buildings near River Park Square. Demolition will be taking place in the spring and soon after construction for the park will begin. This improvement of an asphalt pad and bad grass will be throughout the summer. I am looking forward to a more prominent Farmer’s Market, with trees, shrubs and greenery everywhere including a new city Christmas tree to light up everyone’s favorite holiday.
Along with River Park Square we cannot forget the South Gateway Project on the southern end of Downtown. On May 6th the first wrecking ball struck the old Cook Building and within five minutes as dust filled the air a pile of bricks and mortar, concrete and rebar, plaster and drywall were all that was left. From there the JCI Bridge Group as well as RW Armstrong cleared the land and conducted the first phase of the new entrance into our downtown. On November 23rd we cut the ribbon on a serene new setting near the Yellow River.
Retention of jobs is so vital to our community and the looming loss of Whitley Products does not help that cause in any way. With the assistance of the Common Council, the Clerk-Treasurers office and the MCEDC in 2012 we closed on several tax abatements to keep jobs here in Plymouth. Zentis, Culver Tool, Hoosier Racing Tire and AK Industries all brought jobs and expansions and in Alleck Home Medical we have a beautiful new building across from St. Joseph Regional Medical Center on Lake Avenue.
A study by the MC Economic Development found that Plymouth was lacking in buildings that were turnkey ready. The Plymouth Redevelopment Commission looked at this situation and decided to partner with PIDCO to fund a new shell building in PIDCO’s Commerce Industrial Park. This has been delayed due to new flood plain maps by FEMA and the Indiana DNR, but later this year we expect that will be behind us and we can get this project off the ground.
The Plymouth Redevelopment Commission has also committed $1.5 Million dollar improvement of the city’s water system and 2 new wells at the Pine Road Plant. The $175,000 improvement of the Ledyard Plant with a new filtering system is now completed and both of these projects were done without a utility rate increase.
The Plymouth Redevelopment Commission, working with the Marshall County Commissioners and Council, hope to bring MetroNet to Plymouth and Marshall County.
The metronet will provide business, health care, first responders, and local government with state-of-the-art telecom infrastructure. Completion of this fiber-optic network will allow Plymouth to effectively compete for jobs in the advanced manufacturing and bio-medical fields as well as reduce the City’s telecommunication costs.
In September The City began preparing for a new Comprehensive Plan. Our last was published ten years ago and it was time to bring on some fresh ideas for future infrastructure, land use and growth, housing and neighborhoods, keeping the downtown vitalized and, of course, economic development. The committee work should be completed in about six weeks before it goes before the plan commission and council for approval. The most important part of the plan will be to actually acting on the proposals brought forth. I would like to thank the steering committee, many who are here tonight, for your time, effort, thoughts and conscientious input in the future growth of our city. I would also like to thank Ratio Architects and especially Jackie Turner in helping in this process.
Promotion of the city in these times is essential. Recently, the city launched a new website that is much better than what we had for several years. The site has new pages, photos, links to other agencies and organizations, a city meeting calendar and many more improvements to keep us in the 21st century. Probably the most important change is that each department head can now make changes on his or her site as needed. Thanks to Dan Sammartano and Bob Barcus for assisting us in this process. But my hat goes off to Clerk-Treasurer Toni Hutchings, Angie Birchmeier and Larry Hatcher for getting this off the ground.
The Mayor’s Youth Council is stronger than ever and in just a few minutes Council President Karly Gruett will be addressing the council on the state of its organization.
In conclusion, I want to thank the great employees of this city! They all do an outstanding job and I hear nothing but praise while I am out and about. I commend each and every one of you for a job well done and I am confident you will keep up the great work!
City Attorney Sean Surrisi has been with us now for one year. He had big shoes to fill. Nelson Chipman had been in city government for nearly twenty-five years with much experience in working with many different personalities. Sean has done an outstanding job with his conscientious input and excellent writing and investigative talents. The City truly appreciates your skills, counselor!
I want to thank the Common Council for your input, your thoughts and your thorough decisions in making this city go! Mr. Culp, Mr. Delp, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ecker and the newest father among us, Mr. Grobe, need to be commended.
The department heads are beyond reproach and enthusiastically go out of the way to make the city a better place to live and work.
Let me give you an example of teamwork: On March 10th the City of Plymouth suffered arguably the biggest fire of its history near the intersection of Pennsylvania and Liberty Streets. It was Chief Miller’s 10th day in office. I was out of state at a funeral so I completely missed it, but was told that every department head except park, cemetery and airport came to the scene to assist in any way they could. That’s teamwork, ladies and gentlemen, and its truly appreciated by the Citizens of Plymouth!
The future of a municipality’s finances is always going to be a question mark! But I will give you four words that make me realize that The City of Plymouth will be okay: Clerk-Treasurer Toni Hutchings. Again, your financial leadership has put us in great shape for not only this year but many years to come! Municipal finance is like no other and we appreciate your diligent work in keeping Plymouth on the right track!
It is never easy to predict what might come tomorrow or next month or the next decade but planning gives us a chance to stay on the right path. William Arthur Ward once said, “The pessimist complains about the wind…the optimist expects it to change…the realist adjusts the sails!”
We can complain…we can hope…but in 1873 our forefathers adjusted the sails and 140 years later I am encouraged by what we have here in this beautiful city!