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Senter Talks Relationships During State of the City Address

Mayor Senter 2019 State of the City AddressPlymouth Mayor Mark Senter gave his State of the City Address during Monday night’s City Council meeting.

The theme of this year’s speech was relationships.  The Mayor said, “I’d like to spend the next several minutes reflecting on our city’s recent successes and envisioning its opportunities ahead through the lens of our most valuable asset – our relationships.”

There are a number of quality of life initiatives that have advanced in the community because of relationships.  He mentioned the Dr. Susan Bardwell Aquatic Center, new Marshall County Community Foundation offices and the Growing Kids early childhood learning center along US 30.  Additional improvements are the second phase of the Greenway Trail with a board walk and pedestrian bridge into River Park Square (RPS), the long envisioned kayak launch in RPS and renovation work on the historic walking bridge.

The historic flood last year put the “power of relationships on full display.”  Mayor Senter said, “The people of Plymouth took care of each other and so many others from far and wide came to lend a hand.”  He also mentioned the cooperation between the city and county government in the clean-up process.

Housing was also featured in the State of the City Address as Mayor Senter mentioned the creation of 40 unique apartments in River Gate South, the annexation of land on the city’s north side for Centennial Crossing that will bring 200 new housing units and the Autumn Trace Senior Community.  The mayor mentioned the proposed walk-up townhouses on Water Street and the 18 unit, $2.5 million permanent supportive housing facility that will be on West Jefferson Street.

During the State of the City Address Mayor Senter acknowledged the Plymouth Police Department, Fire Department and EMS along with the new Boys and Girls Club and construction of a new Lincoln Junior High building.  The city’s comprehensive 2-year improvement project at the wastewater treatment plant was completed, and road improvement continue with the help a another Community Crossings Grant award.  The mayor also commented on the upgrades at the Plymouth Airport along with the opening of a new flight school, charter airline service and the Culver summer aviation program.

Relationships with local businesses include Winona Building Products moving into the Del Monte Building, a $5 million expansion for Bomarko, improvements to Bowen Printing, a new home for Carey’s Childcare, and expansions at American Container, Oasis and Pretzels Inc.

Mayor Senter also mentioned the arts during his speech by commenting on the relationships that are the driving force behind the huge improvements to the Rees Theatre.  He also mentioned Wild Rose Moon, Heartland Artists, Encore and Discover Plymouth.

In conclusion Mayor Senter said, “I just want to reiterate how grateful I am to serve as your Mayor.  My relationships with the people I work with and for mean the world to me.  I have a personal excitement that comes from a great motivating desire to make Plymouth a better place.”


2019 State of the City Address


Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you this evening regarding the state of our city. As always, there’s much to celebrate and there’s much work to do. I’d like to spend the next several minutes reflecting on our city’s recent successes and envisioning its opportunities ahead through the lens of our most valuable asset – our relationships.

Relationships are the stuff of life. From the time our feet hit the floor to the time our heads hit the pillow each day we’re interacting with others. Perhaps because of that fact we can sometimes take our relationships for granted. That’s a mistake. They give our lives meaning, they bring us great happiness, and they give purpose to our work.

Over the last couple weeks while assembling this speech my thoughts kept returning to relationships.Undoubtedly, my thoughts in that time have been shaped by a stinging loss of an important relationship. My best friend, a fellow Indiana State Police officer, and a wonderful family man and community leader lost his 11-month battle with an aggressive cancer. A constant presence throughout most of my adult life, BobRich and I were always there for each other, always good for a laugh, a pick-me-up, or lending a hand. I’ll miss you brother. A personal loss really puts in focus what’s important. You hug your people just a little bit tighter and it’s though a spotlight illuminates the true value of your relationships. With that, I want to pause for a moment to express just how much I appreciate each of you. It’s a pleasure to work with all of the City officials and employees. And, besides having a small part in raising two great kids, serving the people of Plymouth as your Mayor has been my greatest honor. Through these relationships, we’ve built a great momentum, the state of our City is strong, and the future is bright.

Looking back across the past year, it’s evident that each of our successes are builtupon a foundation of solid relationships. A number of the quality of life initiatives we’ve recently advanced are no different. The Dr. Susan Bardwell Aquatics Center, the Marshall County Community Foundation offices, and the Growing Kids early childhood learning center you see rising from the ground along U.S. 30 involve so many key partnerships, from the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation, to the Plymouth Community School Corporation, Ancilla College, Rick & Barb Miller, the City Council, the Redevelopment Commission, and many, many more. We can look forward to ribbon cuttings at the community foundation and learning center this spring and at the aquatics center come August. After years of diligent focus, these facilities that were once just a vision are now a reality. I’m thrilled to see the positive impacts they’ll have on the lives of the people of Plymouth.

With the help of the State, we’ve made strides in improving our Park’s trail system. After receiving an INDOT grant, we engaged consultants who are currently designing the plans for the renovation of the historic LaPorte Street Footbridge. This project will restore the State’s oldest footbridge still in use to better than its former glory. Just across the street, another INDOT grant made possible the second phase of our Greenway Trail, which is currently under construction. The new footbridge over the Mighty Yellow, boardwalk, and multiuse path connecting phase one of the trail to Gill Park and River Park Square will open later this year. And, just last week, the City applied for yet another grant opportunity through the State’s Next Level Trails program, seeking funding to complete phase three of the trail winding throughout River Park Square to the South Gateway. Nearby, the community has long envisioned a kayak launch for River Park Square. That too will become a reality this year, with funding from the Park Board, the State’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and more than $16,000 in contributions from you and many of your neighbors through the online crowd funding website Patronicity. What a truly innovative way to make things happen. Our relationship with our State government partners remains solid and with their participation we’re glad to deliver these exciting new enhancements.

River Park Square was really put to the test last year, when she saw just how mighty the Yellow River can be during the historic 2018 flood. In that time of crisis, the power of relationships was on full display. The people of Plymouth took care of each other. And so many others from far and wide came to lend a hand. The City and County governments in cooperation stepped up with funding to coordinate the relief and clean-up efforts. While the flood’s immediate aftermath is in the rear view mirror, the long-term recovery efforts are ongoing. Planning for future events, we’re in contact with homeowners who might wish to sell their properties and we’re in communication with the State’s Hazard Mitigation Officer to apply for the next round of FEMA housing acquisition funding when it opens up. A year out, the spirit of volunteerism and caring that grew out of this natural disaster still swells my heart.

While some houses need to come down to avoid future calamity, fostering the development of diverse new housing options has been a primary goal of the City in recent years. With that in mind, through the State’s Regional Cities Initiative, the City teamed with a regional developer to support the creation of River Gate South. The unique to Plymouth, 40-unit riverside apartment development nestled right in the heart of the downtown is nearing completion. The first residents have moved into the first of three buildings, some of whom have come to Plymouth from out of state. The other buildings are slated to open this spring. Once fully occupied, the project’s sure to build a palpable buzz in the City’s core.

Last year also saw two annexations, bringing more than 40 acres into the City limits, and positioning the land for an exciting new investment. The work of a Plymouth-based developer, Centennial Crossing will bring more than 200 new housing units to the community, offering a variety of market rate options, including, single family homes, multifamily apartment buildings, villas, and senior living. With participation from the Redevelopment Commission, construction is planned to begin later this spring.

Additional senior living will also soon be available at Autumn Trace Senior Communities. The facility is located on land strategically annexed on the City’s southwest side a number of years ago and will offer independent living with a full menu of supportive services and leisure activities. We’re glad to welcome Autumn Trace to the neighborhood.

Another potential housing opportunity will be discussed later at tonight’s meeting. Habitat for Humanity of Marshall County, with the support of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, proposes to construct four brick townhomes on City-owned property in the downtown. The project could provide another attractive and affordable housing option in the heart of the City.

After years of work, I’m proud to say that one more affordable housing development will be breaking ground in the City this year. That’s our first, 18-unit permanent supportive housing facility. In 2017, I was honored to take part in a series of workshops around the State in support of our local team winning project funding. Permanent supportive housing combines permanent, affordable housing with services that help people live more stable, productive lives. The supportive housing concept serves persons and families with very low incomes and often families experiencing homelessness. It’s not a shelter. The facility provides a permanent home while surrounding folks with a range of services to give them a hand up and help set their lives on a stable track. The more than $2.5 million project is made possible through contributions from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis, Ancilla College, the Marshall County Community Foundation, and a generous investment by the Plymouth City Council. Again, I thank you for your leadership on this issue. Partners in providing the supportive services include The Bowen Center, St. Joseph Health System, The Heminger House, The Marshall County Neighborhood Center, The Plymouth Community School Corporation, United Way, and Bradley Company. This facility, along with other community efforts such as David’s Courage, represents a solid step toward tackling the difficult challenges of poverty, homelessness, and addiction, challenges too many good folks grapple with each day.

I wanted to briefly acknowledge the members of our team who provide support to our community 24/7, the public safety professionals of the Plymouth Police Department, Fire Department, and EMS. 2018  saw full implementation of pay increases in both departments. We celebrated some retirements, some promotions, and we welcomed some new members to the family. Our EMS staff’s excellence was again acknowledged when called to serve the Notre Dame Football Team and on the Vice President’s motorcade medical detail. What an honor. And in a year when the need for school safety echoed loud across the Hoosier State, we we’re proud to continue our partnership with the Plymouth Schools, providing School Resource Officer services. Going forward, I’d like to continue our effort to explore the possibility of modernizing our public safety facilities.

A modern facility was delivered up to our community’s youth with the new Boys & Girls Club. Man, it’s a cool building and it’s doing wonders for the kids it serves.It never would have happened without a community-wide fundraising effort, including a leading contribution by the Plymouth City Council. The club’s a great investment in our future. Another exciting investment in youth is underway at the Lincoln Jr. High. It’s great to see all the work going into this anchor of our eastside. When it comes to our youth community, nothing gets me more fired-up than the work of the Mayor’s Youth Council. These young adults are remarkable. Just last weekend, they represented Plymouth at a statewide youth council conference in Bloomington, where they learned new techniques and shared Plymouth’s story. Last year, they began implementation of their Adopt-a-Street program. Signage acknowledging the early enrollees in the program is planned to go up as part of the Youth Council’s annual volunteer Earth Day/Arbor Day Clean-up the third Saturday of April.  From adopting a street to regular street maintenance, public infrastructure improvements played a big role in our 2018. We continued to raise our overall street grades, with enhanced maintenance through participation in the State’s Community Crossings program. The program’s been a key component of our broader infrastructure strategies, allowing the investment of hundreds of thousands of additional dollars in local pavement. We continue to make headway on our sidewalk improvements and compliance with our ADA Transition Plan. And, 2018 saw Plymouth join the ranks of the few Indiana communities who have adopted a Complete Streets Policy. Kudos to the dedicated work of the Complete Streets Committee over the last couple of years to develop this important policy and deliver it to the City Council. Further implementation of this will be forthcoming in 2019.

In our utilities, we put the wraps on a comprehensive two-year improvement project at the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. Using an innovative guaranteed savings contract model, the project was a great success, saving funds, and setting up the facility for future demand in the years to come.

One, perhaps overlooked, piece of our public infrastructure portfolio is the Plymouth Municipal Airport. Our airport, also known to aviation folk as “C65”, is Plymouth’s gateway to the world. In his second year, new Airport Manager Bill Sheley is really feeling his oats and sparking great things at the airport. He and Assistant Manager Zach Davis continue to make upgrades to the terminal building and other facilities. 2018 saw the completion of the hangar taxiway improvement project, completed with FAA funding, the opening of the Culver Summer Schools &Camps summer aviation program, and the honoring of a long-time friend of the airport with the dedication of the Dr. Douglas Badell hangar. Local businessmen and aviation luminaries, Dan Mahron and Ken Norris, opened the new flight school and charter airline service Alpha Flight at the facility. This exciting new business has plans for significant future expansion and beginning in the fall will offer a flight instruction program in partnership with the Plymouth School’s Career and Technical Education program. High school juniors and seniors from Plymouth and 9 other area schools can come to C65 during the school day to learn to fly and to learn the business of aviation. What an exciting opportunity to provide a career pathway to aviation to the next generation of pilots. The airport is now in the planning stage of leasing land for the construction of the airport’s first private hangar, with a second hangar in early discussions. The Plymouth Municipal Airport is such a dynamic place and an economic engine for our community.

In other infrastructure news, Plymouth has previously adopted zoning regulations regarding the installation of solar panels and is currently working with MACOG in an effort to gain the Gold Level SolSmart designation. The designation signals that a community is solar friendly and has policies in place to make going solar a streamlined process. Last, looking toward long-range infrastructure improvements, we continue to work with the U.S. 30 Coalition and INDOT pursuing the improvement of the highway to freeway status. Moreover, we continue to partner with other northern Indiana communities in pursuing the development of a high-speed rail corridor connecting Columbus, Ohio to Chicago, with a stop in Plymouth.

In 2018, long range planning and community infrastructure improvements loomed large in the work of one of the biggest relationship-building exercises our County’s ever seen. And by that I’m referring to the Marshall County Crossroads Stellar Communities effort. The work resulted in the production of a regional development plan, which can serve as a guide for Marshall County for years to come, but more importantly, it engaged so many people. We held multiple public meetings with hundreds of attendees from across the County, we obtained more than 700 survey results, and we had countless contacts through e-mail newsletters and social media. That’s not even mentioning our Stellar Committee comprised of representatives from Argos, Bourbon, Bremen, Culver, LaPaz, Marshall County, Plymouth, and other organizations. I had so much fun with this whip-smart and lively group. We were honored to be a State finalist although we fell just short of winning Stellar designation. Before the winners were announced the State said that you’ve already won by engaging in this cooperative planning process. As a leader who demands results, and as a guy who’s married to the most competitive woman in the world, I usually tend to call B.S. on statements like that. But, you know what, they’re right. It was a real win to build deeper relationships with our other communities around the County. Know this, our work continues, and I’m sure that Stellar plans to draw the circle wider and engage with even more folks going forward. Win or lose, Marshall County is Stellar!

You know what else is Stellar, this room we’re all in right now. 2018 was the year our historic City Hall was renovated to better serve the people of Plymouth for years to come. While it was a long hard year of being displaced and struggling to figure out where to pay your water bill, the improvements were much needed, and I’m so proud that we could make this important investment in our historic downtown. A big thank you goes out to Councilman Randy Longanecker and the Plymouth company to which he’s long served, Michiana Contracting, for making it happen. The renovation also included the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce building. The Chamber too looks great. If you haven’t been in there, please stop by and pay Connie and Jackie a visit. The Chamber does great work in supporting our Plymouth business community, which by all reports is really thriving.

When it comes to business, 2018 was a banner year. We came off of 2017 with the sting of losing Del Monte and Bay Valley. With much local effort, we’ve filled the Del Monte vacancy with the exciting new business Winona Building Products. Winona is making a significant investment in their innovative insulation start-up here in Plymouth. This exciting company provides great wages and benefits and has growth potential on the immediate horizon. We’ve seen so many local business successes, to name just a few, a new facility for Carey’s Childcare, the City’s building sale to Bowen Printing and Bowen’s subsequent improvements, expansions at American Containers, Oasis, and a $5 million investment on the way at Bomarko, a company that’s been a part of the Plymouth landscape for 55 years. Let’s not forget the addition of a second oven at Pretzels Inc., a company that continues its growth mindset. I can’t pay enough compliments to Jerry Chavez and the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation for their work on these projects and oh so many more. What a great relationship.

2018 was great, but 2019 promises to be even better, and I can’t wait to announce some of the awesome business developments that are currently in the pipeline. When looking at all this business development at a high level it’s easy to get lost in the numbers and lose track of the why behind our work. The why is all about improving people’s lives. Just behind faith, family, and community, having meaningful work is a major key to personal happiness. Happiness and satisfaction through work is due to earned success, the belief that one is creating value with their life and value in the lives of other people. That’s certainly what motivates my work as Mayor. Money doesn’t buy happiness, earned success does. Nevertheless, while working hard, and enjoying the happiness that comes with it, we’re making money too. It’s exciting to see the results of what we’re doing, as recent reports show that in 2017 Marshall County residents had a per capita personal income increase that was the second highest of any of Indiana’s 92 counties. That’s no accident, but rather, the result of a people-centered economic development policy, built on strong relationships.

Lastly, I wanted to touch on what, like our airport, is yet another burgeoning economic engine in our community, the arts. In the last year, there’s been so much buzz around the Rees Theatre. Talk about relationships, the driving forces behind the Rees have work so, so hard to build every relationship imaginable to bring their dream to reality. That’s included seeking countless dollars from the community, $575,000 in support from the Redevelopment Commission, and the recent commitment from the City Council to apply for a $500,000 State grant. All that effort is being rewarded with construction of the revitalized facility planned for later this year. But, the Rees is just one of the many arts and cultural initiatives underway in our downtown. The Wild Rose Moon continues to expand its reach, promoting rising artists through performances. Also, their Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour broadcast continues to grow with local and regional radio support and now expanding to public television. The facility serves as a training ground for the next generation of arts production professionals. What an upstart asset to our community. The concentration of arts continues with Heartland Artists, Encore, and many more. Discover Plymouth has promoted public art with their alley mural efforts, and concert offerings. And other cultural resources abound with downtown staples like the Marshall County Museum, the National Historic District, the Farmers Market, the Yellow River Festival, Latino Fest, the Summer Sippin Brew Fest, Art in the Streets, the Mayor’s Month of Music, and so much more. With all this activity, and new legislation working its way through the General Assembly, I believe that investigation of the designation of our downtown as a State designated Arts and Cultural District could be of great benefit. The creative economy is a powerful thing and its already at work in downtown Plymouth. With a district designation, we could have tools to help build upon the great relationships and momentum already at play in our great City.

In conclusion, I just want to reiterate how grateful I am to serve as your Mayor. My relationships with the people I work with and for mean the world to me. I have a personal excitement that comes from a great motivating desire to make Plymouth a better place. And I truly believe that we can become what we think about. I’m always thinking about a better Plymouth. I have a vision for Plymouth’s future in 2019, and in the years to come, and I’m looking forward to working with you to make it happen. Thank you.