BY LINDSAY MCCOY
Times Bulletin News Writer
VAN WERT - "It is my pleasure to report to you that over the course of the past year through our joint efforts we have made some major strides forward," said Mayor Don Farmer in his yearly State of the City Address during Monday night's Van Wert City Council meeting.Farmer said he was happy to report that many of the goals established during the previous year's address have been accomplished. These goals included working within the budget restraints, beginning the certification process for the Van Wert Super Site, creating an attitude and appearance in the community that is attractive to those looking to locate here, promoting a positive and cooperative dialog between council, administration, and the community to create a better Van Wert, continuing to improve the city's main arteries such as the construction of W. Main St., and to setting a schedule for the improvement of the secondary streets within the city.
The administration has seen relief from the budget restraints experienced the past few years, and the carryover dollars going into 2013 have improved. The reserve fund for the year is expected to total $270,943 with an unappropriated general fund account total of $1,381,532 in 2013. Farmer commended department heads and city employees for the great job they have done in conserving and taking cost saving measures which led to these improvements.
2012 showed intensified efforts to get the super site on track. The city was able to obtain relief of a gas line that enabled the site improvements to move forward as projected. Farmer said he expects the infrastructure to be completed in 2013. This site represents a long-term endeavor to attract a major industry to the Van Wert community, one that it has worked vigorously to promote.
The mayor also commented on the appearance of the community, which he called a "continuing effort." The efforts of council and the enforcement code office have been successful in removing several abandoned structures marked as nuisances to the city. In 2013, Farmer hopes to see 7-10 additional structures removed. The Home Guard building has also been secured to remove a major safety issue.
During the construction season this year, Farmer warned that city motorists should expect to see the reconstruction of W. Main St. From Shannon to Fisher Ave. Reconstruction plans have now been extended from Fisher Ave. to the city limits. That segment of the work is expected to be completed in 2015. Once this is finished, the city will have the funding to look at the city's interior streets and can make additional plans for improvement. Farmer's breakdown on drug enforcement will continue into this year.
"As I said last year, it is one thing to lose our work force to other communities because of jobs it is not acceptable to lose them to drugs," said Farmer. "This administration will continue to support the police department in these endeavors."
Also on Farmer's list of improvements to the city of Van Wert in 2012 include the new elementary school, a newly opened preschool and kindergarten at Jefferson School, Vantage Career Center renovations, purchase of the former Teleflex building, the upcoming opening of Ruler Foods, the doubling in size of the city's Sears store, and a new senior 32-unit apartment complex on Westwood Dr. to open in February. In addition, Farmer noted that the former Van Wert Inn is being remodeled, and the Shell station and Party Shop has plans for a new facility.
"Yes, we do and will continue our efforts to attract new industry to our community, but it is important that we keep open communications with our existing industry to maintain their current employment levels and an atmosphere for them to grow," reminded Farmer. "Our community has been blessed with many assets and is fortunate to have so many that contribute both time and money to make our community what it is."
Locally, a fund has been pledged by local business and individuals amounting to nearly $1.2 million for a continued capital repair and investment fund for a new aquatic center to be located within the city of Van Wert. On May 6, voters will have the opportunity to decide on the proposed construction of the center, as a resolution was passed on its third and final reading Monday to put the question of a 1.2 mill, 25-year levy to city voters. That levy would begin collection at the beginning of 2014.
Farmer stated he is expecting to see the continued growth of the city and all of its components in 2013 and thanked everyone in the community for their help and efforts.