From the City Manager 10/07/16

Reprinted with permission of the Independence Daily Reporter

  There’s much to be proud of in Independence this fall

    Sometimes when we’re in the throes of turmoil, or even just our busy day-to-day lives, we lose sight of the good things happening all around us. In today’s column, I want to take a moment to acknowledge some of the positive activity in our community.

     New 911 Dispatch Center

   Thanks to the efforts of our police department leaders and staff, the county sheriff’s office and countless technology professionals, last week’s launch of our new “Next Generation” 911 system was a great success. The new system offers enhanced capabilities for emergency response, including the ability to more accurately pinpoint the location of 911 callers using cell phones.

   Along with the more robust features of the technology itself, what’s also very exciting about this development is the collaboration happening between the PD and the sheriff’s department. Dispatchers from both entities are now sharing space in the new 911 center, located on the lower level of the temporary city hall building. This allows the county dispatch staff to continue using the city’s radio and voice recording equipment, as they have in the past, and the city’s dispatchers continue to route 911 cell phone calls from outside the city limits. Kudos to all these professionals for their continued dedication to extensive training and the highest standards of service and teamwork.

   Business Development

   It’s exciting to see new business investment in our community, which will translate to more jobs and more services for our residents.

   Last week, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Independence Health Center under construction by Labette Health on Peter Pan Road. The center is expected to open in the spring of 2017 and promises an emergency room, diagnostic services, inpatient observation beds and a medical clinic. With this scope of services, Labette Health, along with fellow providers Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, Jane Phillips/St. John Health System and Wilson Medical Center, will certainly help fill the gaps in local health care access.  

   Also of note is the fast-paced construction of the Comfort Inn & Suites hotel on West Main, which will offer an additional 42 quality guest rooms and 14 suites for our out-of-town visitors, as well as opportunities for local job seekers. Projected opening is spring of 2017.

   And there is more good news just outside of town, where the Kelly Aerospace company has set up operations in the city’s hangar at the Independence Municipal Airport. The company installs custom features and finishing details in aircraft produced by Cessna.

   Temporary Fire/EMS Facility

   Construction is coming along nicely for the temporary building on the West Laurel campus to properly house our fire trucks, ambulances and emergency response equipment. We anticipate completion of the facility in time to get our vehicles in out of the cold and inclement winter weather. The facility will be heated and will have secure access to better protect our valuable lifesaving equipment.

   Celebrating a Career of Service

   It is with both sadness and joy that we bid farewell in a few short weeks to Independence Fire Chief Rusty Baker. After 25 years of service to the department, Rusty will retire to pursue his passions for dog training and country living, and he’ll be taking his trusty sidekick, fire dog Remington, along with him. Both will be dearly missed from the department’s daily activity, but Rusty has pledged the pair will continue to stay engaged with community outreach projects, such as teaching fire safety to local school children.

   I want to publicly acknowledge Rusty – and Remington - for their careers of exemplary service to the City of Independence. I sincerely wish them both much happiness in their next chapter.

City Manager Micky Webb