'State of the City' Part 2: Busy year for city, more coming
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Jan 17, 2014 | 887 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CLEVELAND MAYOR Tom Rowland gave his State of the City address to the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland Thursday. Banner photo, JOYANNA LOVE
CLEVELAND MAYOR Tom Rowland gave his State of the City address to the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland Thursday. Banner photo, JOYANNA LOVE

The past year has been a busy time for the various departments of the city of Cleveland.

Mayor Tom Rowland outlined some of the departments’ accomplishments during his annual “State of the City” address on Thursday before members of the Cleveland Kiwanis Club.

The Cleveland Daily Banner is providing coverage of the mayor’s presentation in two installments. Part I was published in Thursday’s edition. The final segment is included today.

Awards were given to the city highlighting the work of the finance department in 2013, the mayor pointed out.

“First of all, the city of Cleveland has received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award for 25 consecutive years,” Rowland said. “We received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for 15 years and notification has been received from GFOA [Government Finance Officers Association] that we have been recognized for this award for our 2014 budget, but that award presentation has not yet been officially made. “

On the public safety front, Rowland said the Cleveland Fire Department was put to the test.

Responses were made to 2,796 fire incidents in the past 12 months.

“With 91 firefighters and six administrative personnel, the firefighters have had 1,527 medical and rescue responses. Interesting to note, our average response time for fire structures in the city limits has been four minutes and 24 seconds,” Rowland said. “Chief Steve Haun and his staff spend a great deal of time on safety inspection and consultations throughout the year, in addition to public education and community relations, stressing the importance of fire safety to young and old alike. This year over 5,800 people were directly affected by their public education programs.”

Rowland also highlighted the work of the Cleveland Police Department during his presentation.

“The Cleveland Police Department is one of the few departments to be certified nationally and by the state. In 2014 it will continue its goal of protecting and serving under the leadership of a new chief, David Bishop, a 30-year veteran of that department,” Rowland said.

He also reported that CPD data shows “a decline in major crimes, and projects the overall plan to keep that momentum in the days ahead.

“Public Works, along with our Cleveland Utilities crews, are the unsung heroes of our community. They serve you day and night, regardless of the weather. When tornadoes hit, when floods arise, when winds damage roadways, these are the men and women who have the task of restoring services to the citizens. And they do it efficiently and with a great deal of pride,” Rowland said.

“In 2013, Public Works Department used twelve-million, forty-seven-thousand tons of asphalt mix, costing just under $1 million, to maintain our streets. And that does not include equipment and labor,” Rowland said. “Last year, the Public Works Department picked up 4,800 tons of brush to be chipped. They also spend a considerable amount of time cleaning out drains and ditches.

Rowland reminded his audience not to put lawn debris and leaves into water flow ditches.

“This flows into the storm drains and causes neighborhood flooding. It happens over and over. I see citizens dumping their lawn mower mulch and their leaves into city ditches. This is a constant problem for our city crews. Debris should never ever be placed in the street where it can wash down into the ditches. It should always be at the edge of the yard for easy pickup by city crews,” Rowland said.

Recent approval for another debris pickup machine for the Public Works Department will allow weekly pickup, according to Rowland.

Progress on the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway was emphasized.

“Enhancing the Greenway experience is the great public-private partnership with People for Care & Learning and Men and Women of Action. Through their generosity, the Greenway now has a beautiful playground near Raider Drive, plus restrooms and water fountains along the way,” Rowland said.

“The Church of God has been generous with granting necessary right of way for numerous Greenway projects along Keith Street. Many thanks go to Judge and Mrs. Andrew Bennett, who are members of the Kiwanis Club, for their donation of the land that allowed us to open our newest Greenway extension to the north,” Rowland said.

Challenges facing the city government in 2014 were also discussed.

“As we move into 2014, we face many continuing challenges. These include efforts to construct the Cleveland-Bradley State Veterans Home on property off Westland Drive and APD 40. The Veterans Home Council, of which I am a member, has worked diligently to meet all the requirements of the federal and state government Although there was a recent setback [caused] by the State of Tennessee Real Estate Asset Management Division, known as STREAM, as they listed some objections to the site location,” Rowland said.

“I might remind you that this 28-acre site was donated free and clear. Both Bradley County and Cleveland City governments have each committed $2 million to the project and $3 million has been donated by an anonymous donor. Thousands of dollars have been donated through various fundraisers held by local veterans. I am confident that these minor objections will be overcome as we receive final approval for the home,” Rowland said.

“In connection with our veterans, I have completed the private fundraising for a passive veterans park to be located on the westernmost portion of the Spring Creek Development off Veterans Parkway/APD 40. The land has been donated by the generosity of Stan and Brenda Lawson. We are only waiting now for site development, and thanks to a fundraiser last year by Lee University, we have met our goals.”

A number of transportation issues will be taking place in the coming year. Work on Interstate 75 Exit 20 will continue.

“Work should begin fairly soon on the Georgetown Road and Highway 60 project which begins at Westlake Drive and continues west to Eureka Road. The road will be an efficient four-lane thoroughfare with sidewalks and a bicycle trail. When complete, a person [will be able to] actually walk from Cleveland Middle School to the new elementary school and on to Hopewell Elementary School,” Rowland said.

Rowland thanked the Kiwanis Club for allowing him to give his “State of the City” address during its club meeting for nearly two decades.