2014 State of the City Address
Thank you for taking your valued time today; we are very appreciative for your interest and attendance.
Today is an exciting day for our city. When I was elected Mayor, I said that “Business as Usual” is not something that would be heard at city hall.
We need to examine every city service and determine whether it should continue as is or explore to see if there is a better way of doing things. The transition to a new form of government, with transparency and open door policy would enable us to have the opportunity and the responsibility to take bold steps towards a better future for our citizens by improving our neighborhoods, cleaning up our community, creating economic opportunity, restoring citizens confidence in city government and taking decisive and positive actions to move our city forward.
We can implement a plan to take these bold steps because it is a plan, a statement of our priorities. I know you share that same respect for our citizens that I do and I am happy to report that the state of our city is improving and our future is bright.
In the recent past, our city and our economy has faced many challenges, however, with the help of our citizens we have kept our economy moving by continuing to invest in our city. In the past 11 months we have been taking small steps which are making a difference- I receive calls daily thanking me for the difference that is seen around our community including moral improvement. We have people wanting to volunteer and become a part of our great city. As we see progress of Highway 331 becoming a four lane, we will certainly be able to witness more of an impact on Freeport as convenience and job opportunities become available. I am proud of the work we’ve done to strengthen our city government and the community. My sincere appreciation to all of the volunteers who have helped with the new Heritage Center Museum which we dedicated in November of 2013. Those who helped with the first annual Mayor’s Charity Ball where we were able to help those in our community who are less fortunate in providing Thanksgiving Dinners as well as meals for Christmas along with purchasing gifts for some 56 children of those families. We have established a new sewer agreement to help the citizens with existing homes to be able to hook on to the city system with financing available. We have prioritized projects for capital improvements for the community so that we can apply for grants to make some of these projects a reality. We have tried to make the city more inviting by cleaning up certain areas and if we are going to clean up our city, it must include cleaner waterways for our city as no family or business is going to move to a city with health warnings with every body of water in the area, and I call on you as citizen to join me in cleaning up our waterways.
We’ve applied for two grants totaling $2,472,000.00 connecting our water system on corridor 331 from Freeport to DeFuniak Springs, as well as,adding 50 thousand feet of water mains in Freeport and this is sitting on the desk of Governor Scott for his signature. We have commenced working on our first annual City Festival Freeport “Bayfest” scheduled for the third weekend in September each year and beginning September 20, 2014. We have also implemented a community event on the second Sunday of each month called “Pickin on the Porch”, which a group of musicians get together and play and sing Blue Grass and Country and this, too, serves to bring the community together.
We have been working with the Northwest Florida League of Cities going to Tallahassee and lobbying on behalf of the Florida League of Cities on matters which affect all city governments. We are also working on getting street lights to enhance Highway 20 from the 331 Corridor down past city hall. We have voted to keep our fire department intact and are trying to work on a means of maintaining it as is .We’re working on annexation of properties into the city which would be very beneficial to the city and we have tried to involve our younger generation in the area and familiarize them with the city government by speaking to the classes, inviting them to tour city hall as well as extended invitations for them to go by the Heritage Museum to learn about Freeport’s past. I am so very proud of the work we have accomplished together to strengthen and revitalize our city. We know that there are many long term issues facing our citizen’s and our city. With the money that we have budgeted and/or spent, we must preserve the general fund dollars so we can continue funding important job-creating neighborhoods and improving capital projects. I want to thank all of the employees for their hard work and dedication to their job and to our city. It’s an honor to work with such a wonderful group of professionals. I would also like to thank the members of the city council for their hard work and their public service to Freeport. Thank you all for your patience and support during this first year in office. You play an important and vital role in making our city a better place to live, work and play. I look forward to the next three years. It is only together with the help of our staff, and our citizens and our creator that we can make Freeport a place where neighborhoods can flourish. Citizens can be proud and businesses can progress. I thank you again and God Bless our Nation and our great city of Freeport.