From the Mayor 11/16/16

Reprinted with Permission of the Independence Daily Reporter

The holiday season is upon us once again, with Thanksgiving just days away. What a great reminder to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives.

I wish I could remember to be grateful every day, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the heat of our daily battles. Annie and I do have one advantage over many of you - we are still new to Independence and so we’re totally enamored with pretty much everything about the city. If we attempted to make a list of everything and everyone in Independence that we’re grateful for, it would run into hundreds of entries. But I’d like to count down Annie and my Top 10 reasons that we’re most thankful to live in Independence.

10. Harry Sinclair. Harry was not born in Independence, and he didn’t die in Independence but he was here for many years and brought amazing prosperity to the town. Although we don’t see a lot of direct remnants of his empire, that legacy of being a wealthy oil town is still felt in so many ways.

9. Our neighbors. I’m told that there has been quite a rivalry between Independence and Coffeyville for many years. I’m sure that still exists, although I haven’t really seen it. We couldn’t be happier with our neighbors. Nearly anything that’s good for Coffeyville is good for Independence, and anything that’s good for Independence is good for Coffeyville. My wife loves her job in Coffeyville, and I know many people who love living in Coffeyville but have great jobs in Independence.

8. Our library. Our library was selected as the Best Small Library in the U.S. by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This is an incredible honor; other towns that have won this award in subsequent years cover their town with signs and billboards bragging about this achievement. Apparently, we have so much going on in our town, we don’t publicize it at all.

7.USD #446. Our school district is often named as one of the primary reasons people choose Independence as their home. We have wonderful, caring faculty and staff, and beautiful facilities.

6.Independence Community College. Having a college in a town makes a noticeable difference in the quality of life in that town. It adds so much, including higher education levels, more access to the arts, and the opportunity to see great live college sports. Kansas has 1,342 cities and only 19 community colleges. We are blessed to have ICC.

5. Our new Emergency Room. Words cannot describe how sick I felt when I got the word that Mercy was closing their hospital. Conversely, I can’t describe how pleased I am to see Labette Health’s beautiful new Emergency Room going up.

4. Neewollah. Last week, I was the speaker at an event held at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri and I was introduced as being from Independence. After I spoke, a crowd of people gathered around, all of them wanting to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed coming to Indy for Neewollah. It is amazing that our town celebration is known and loved, far and wide.

3. Our downtown. Like it or not, if someone is considering moving to a new town, they want to see that the downtown is vibrant; this is often considered a barometer for the economic welfare of the town. We are blessed with a beautiful, thriving downtown. It’s true that many of our buildings need some work, but lots of people are working to make that happen. We have four or five different incentives now in place that are attracting investors and there are about ten buildings that have recently been remodeled or renovated, or are currently in the process. The future of our downtown shines bright.

2. Riverside Park & Zoo. Our new bears, our new mountain lion, Logan Fountain, the improvements to monkey island, the amazing water park. Every one of our family members that comes to visit us from another state just can’t believe our park and zoo; I can’t believe it either. What an amazing place to raise kids.

1. Our industrial base. It feels a bit strange to list industry as my Number 1, but our employers are our lifeblood. While our industrial base is not huge, it is a great source of prosperity for our community: Textron/Cessna Aviation, Matcor, VT Hackney, Catalytic Industrial Systems, Precision Aviation Controls, Standard Motor Products, SEKTAM, Precision Designed Products, Kansas Aviation, Kelly Aerospace, EarthCare Products, and probably others that I’m forgetting. And truly, having many small to medium size employers is much better than having one giant employer. We are so blessed to have these employers here in Independence.

What are you most thankful for?

Mayor Gary Hogsett