From the Mayor 09/14/16

Reprinted with Permission of the Independence Daily Reporter

This week, Independence has received good news, more good news, and great news. Annie and I love this city, and we thank God every day for the opportunity to be a part of something so wonderful.

Park & Zoo compliment. I recently received an email from a man who serves as city commissioner in a much larger city. Here’s what his email said: “I'm a city commissioner, and my wife and I recently spent a day in Independence's Riverside Park. We were very impressed by both the number and quality of amenities available; it spoke very highly of Independence as a city. My own city has several parks and public amenities, but few are so well maintained as what we saw in Riverside Park.”  Wow, you know that any mayor loves to hear that! Thanks so much to Barb Beurskens and the rest of our hard working park and zoo staff for making our park and zoo a shining star. And if you haven’t been over to see our three new bears yet, what are you waiting for? Go see them today!

City Hall. As promised, Mercy has given the city a check for a cool half million dollars, to be used for capital improvements to the hospital building. It appears to me that this $500,000 will come in very handy. The city commissioners interviewed five firms as potential facilitators for the City Hall task force. Of those five firms, Commissioners Meier and Caflisch both agreed that Burns & McDonnell was the best choice. Although I would not have chosen Burns & McDonnell myself, I’m glad that we’re moving forward and I’m confident that Burns & Mac will do a good job. I hope that we’ll be selecting the committee members very soon.

Shenandoah. Director of Tourism Mike Flood provided the city commissioners with a financial summary of the Shenandoah concert at our meeting last week, and the news was good. There were 538 people who purchased tickets and attended the concert from forty-one different cities in three states, so we were successful in bringing some visitors into the city. The compliments our community received from the people that attended were fantastic; hopefully Independence has now forged relationships with these people so perhaps they will attend future events and concerts. The city had invested $8,500 to sponsor and promote the concert, and after deducting the expenses from the ticket revenues, the City will receive a check for about $8,610, meaning that we made a massive profit of around $110. A few people contacted me to criticize the decision to invest city funds to bring a concert to town, and I certainly understand your concerns. But I believe that it was a very positive event for the city, and due to the hard work of Toni Camacho and Mike Flood, the concert didn’t really cost us anything but time and effort. A special thanks also to the media from Independence and the surrounding area, who went above and beyond with publicity and advertising. My hope is that this will be the beginning of a renewed history of talented performers coming to Independence.

Deal reached on Water Main. When a crew working for Kansas Fiber Network inadvertently drilled right through the middle of our water main at Penn and Laurel, the commissioners and city staff feared the worst.  Our fear was that the entire block had been undermined. During our first mediation session with Kansas Fiber, they agreed to have an independent third party drill down through the street at various points along the block to take core samples. These core samples allowed the engineers for both parties to see the actual extent of the damage, and to our relief, the damage was pretty much confined to the sight of the rupture. After getting a couple bids to perform the necessary repairs, we agreed to a settlement which should easily cover the cost of the repairs. For obvious reasons, we have decided to wait until sometime after Neewollah to begin the repairs.

FORPAZ Fund Raiser. To celebrate its 40th Anniversary, FORPAZ held a fund raiser at Logan Fountain on Saturday night, and it was just a magnificent event; Annie and I enjoyed it immensely. There were about 120 people in attendance and the event brought in nearly $20,000 in donations. The money will be used toward the purchase of a new play area for toddlers, this one shaped like a firetruck. Many thanks to all the hard working FORPAZ volunteers, auctioneer George Eisele, and all the companies and individuals that donated items to be auctioned.

Main Street. In case you haven’t heard yet, we have hired a great replacement for Liz Moore as the Director of our Main Street organization. Tabatha Snodgrass has just started in her new position, but she is obviously catching on to the job very quickly. While I’m certain that there’s not another Liz Moore anywhere on the planet, it’s obvious that the Main Street Board has found an outstanding person to fill Liz’s shoes. Most of you already know Tabatha, but if you haven’t met her yet, stop by and say, “Hello.” Better yet, ask her how you can help her to make our beautiful downtown even more beautiful.

Future Leaders. I’ve bragged more than once about our city’s wonderful Leadership Independence program. As I already said, no city ever becomes great without a large number of great leaders. Having a large class of individuals that have stepped up and said that they’re willing to take on leadership training and leadership roles in our city is fantastic news. Thank you so much to all class members: Brian Beecham, Jerry Bright, Roger Burdick, Thomas Clarke, Bryan Clubine, Stevie Cook, Kristopher Dixon, Jerry Harrison, Jeri Hopkins, Zach Jolly, Melissa McDaniel, Taryn Meeds, Melody Miorandi, Chris Mitchell, Lonnie Powell, Michael Richardson, Eddie Rodgers, Lindsay Shaw, Tabatha Snodgrass, Melissa Summer, and Rick Whitson.

There’s just no other way to look at all that’s going on, other than to say, “Independence is a wonderful town with a lot of great folks, who are working hard to make it even better!”

Mayor Gary Hogsett