2010 State of the City AddressThank you for joining me and the great leaders of this community this evening.
Thank you for joining me and the great leaders of this community this evening. Tonight I am going to talk about the award-winning police service we enjoy in Superior, the important infrastructure improvements your leadership determined to make, and the innovation in municipal operations that sets the course for a bright future.
But first, I want to honor by name key individuals who continue to extend the hand of friendship to the City of Superior. Please stand and be recognized:
Fariba Pendleton, UW Extension – Superior Days Coordinator
Julius Erlenbach, Chancellor, UW-Superior
Dave Minor, CEO of The Chamber
Andy Lisak, Development Association Director
Jana Stevens, Superintendent of Superior School District
Doug Finn, Douglas County Board Chair
Diane Vertin, WITC – Administrator
Steve Koszarek, Douglas County Administrator
Kaye Tenerelli, BID Director
At this time, I would like to acknowledge my colleagues at City Hall. They share and implement our collective vision for the City of Superior. Together, we work to offer you value for your tax dollars and exceptional customer service. Please stand:
Terry Kalan, City Clerk
Frog Prell, City Attorney
Jeff Goetzman, Assistant Public Works Director
Jean Vito, Finance Director
Cammi Koneczny, HR Administrator
Jason Serck, Planning Director
Floyd Peters, Police Chief
Jim Rigstad, Fire Chief
Janet Jennings, Library Director
Mary Morgan, Parks & Recreation Administrator
Jeff Vito, Director of Economic Development & Govt. Affairs
Rani Gill, Executive Assistant
Brad Theien, City Assessor/Chief Appraiser
My family has been an endless source of support to me in my role as Mayor of this fine city. I want to thank my wife, Lynn for the caring and concern she has given to our journey. My four daughters, grandchildren, and especially my father have helped me balance my work life and the importance of family.
AWARD WINNING SERVICE
The Superior Police Department, led by Chief Floyd “Pete” Peters is one of the finest in the State of Wisconsin, if not the nation. They respond to our need for protection and service on an average of 26,000 times a year. They connect with the community in numerous ways from offering the Citizen Police Academy, to making presentations on Internet Safety, to partnering with the Center Against Sexual & Domestic Assault.
In 2009, Superior Police Department staff gained statewide and national recognition for the outstanding job they do. Investigator Jeff Harriman received the Wisconsin Narcotics Officer Investigator of the year award by the Wisconsin Narcotics Officers Association. He was honored for his outstanding investigative successes in 2009, which included, in part, a buy-bust operation of the largest amount of cocaine seized in the history of the department. Officer Todd Maas and K-9 Blek won the 2009 State of Wisconsin Meritorious K-9 Apprehension Award for the capture of an armed suspect in an attempted murder case in which three citizens were stabbed.
Past success stories from the Superior Police Department will gain national attention this year when they are aired on the new series “Crime Town USA,” on the “Discovery” channel. One episode will highlight the Alejandro Rivera drug investigation of 1999, which led to a homicide on July 4th and ultimately, the firebombing of District Attorney Dan Blank’s home in early 2000. The competence of our police officers contributed to a whopping five convictions totaling 92 years in prison and one conviction of life in prison without parole for Rivera.
A second episode will review the re-opening in 2004 of the 1986 homicide of Lynnea Gran who was brutally murdered in the Billings Park neighborhood. A re-analysis of the evidence using technology that wasn’t available in 1986 revealed the identity of her murderer who ultimately pled guilty and was sentenced according to 1986 State Statutes. This case was so spectacular that yet another TV program, “Tru-TV series Forensic Files,” has aired it numerous times since 2007.
At present, the Police Department, specifically Sgt. Nick Alexander and Detective Tom Champaigne, continue to lead the region in our proactive Forensic Technology and Internet Crimes Against Children work. This year alone, they have processed and analyzed 87 pieces of digital evidence found, for example, in computers, cell phones, cameras and I-pods, for Superior cases as well as for other agencies throughout the region. The cases involve a range of offenses: child pornography, child sexual assault, voyeurism, child enticement, ID theft, drug crimes, and domestic abuse among others. This powerful tool allows a timely local response for protecting your children and solving crime. In addition, educating our community remains a priority with over 1000 adults and children receiving Internet Safety information at seventeen public presentations in 2009.
Many of you are already aware that our leadership in this area is about to birth a regional Forensic Technology Task Force, in partnership with Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. This half a million dollar project will bring training, equipment, and shared knowledge to the complicated matter of recovering forensic technology evidence. Especially in relation to Internet Crimes Against Children, SPD is taking a proactive approach that is certain to become a national model.
Last fall, a serial rapist was arrested in Superior based on excellent police work and DNA evidence. The suspect was charged with three sexual assaults in Superior and a 2006 cold case brutal rape in Burnett County.
The Superior Police Department with its partners, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department and the Center Against Sexual & Domestic Abuse, continue critical work with victims who are most at risk for escalating violence. Officers and CASDA work cooperatively to provide the support and level of safety needed to break the cycle of violence in these homes. A 2009 Violence Against Women Act grant provided a level of service to victims including detailed investigations, emergency shelter and specialized training for officers.
The Police Department has been granted $138,700 from the Secure Our Schools program. These dollars will allow our partner, the Superior School District, to install video cameras to monitor all activities in the outdoor areas surrounding our high school. The safety of our children as they gain the education and skills needed to succeed in life is better safeguarded with this video technology on campus.
This year the Police Department enacted a program that provides our citizens with interactive pin mapping of police responses. Using this program, citizens can monitor over the internet the types of police responses that are occurring near their homes and businesses. Armed with this information, citizens are more likely to recognize suspicious behavior, take notice and call the police. Again, dedication meets innovation to keep you safe!
And finally, your Police Department, with its cutting-edge professionalism and passion for community connections, has created an atmosphere that attracts high caliber volunteers. The force will welcome Dr. Les Tekler to its tactical response team this month. Let’s welcome him and his wife, Wendy, here tonight. Dr. Tekler, a cardiologist with St. Luke’s Cardiology Associates, recently achieved his long-term goal of becoming a law enforcement officer. He is bringing his unique skill set to the Superior Police Department, where he will provide medical care to victims, citizens or officers during high-risk incidents. He is choosing to spend his precious leisure time doing noble work in the company of an outstanding group of law enforcement officers.
Superior Police Department is not the only public safety unit in our City to attract national attention. Last spring, a member of the Superior Fire Department won the honor of receiving an Extreme Home Makeover. This project brought together a variety of groups and individuals who made contributions of time, talent and resources to improve the life of a local family. And in doing so, we are reminded of a famous quote cited often by Chamber Director Dave Minor, “that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” The show spotlighted the City of Superior and Douglas County, but more important, it revealed to a national audience the perseverance, kindness and generosity of the people who live here.
WISE USE OF FUNDS
In these uncertain times, we continue our determined march to financial stability. Under the capable direction of Jean Vito in the Finance Department, here’s the rapid-fire good news:
Your City tax levy for 2010 is up only 1.66% from 2009.
This year’s City budget will increase by a mere one-half percent.
Our 2006 12-year debt reduction plan is on track with two debt issues totaling in excess of $2.2 million paid in advance in 2009.
The City’s overall equalized value jumped 4.85% in 09 rendering us # 2 among principal cities in the entire state for growth.
The Health Insurance Fund is nearing an ideal reserve of $1.5 million with reserves just under $1.3 million available in this moment, a complete turn-around from a deficit in 2003.
In an era when cities are struggling to hang onto their existing bond ratings, Superior’s rating increased again in 2009, from ‘AA minus’ to “AA’. The rating increase reflects our continued financial strength.
The City owes a debt of gratitude to our City Council for the judicious use of Community Development Block Grant funds and Capital Improvement Program funds. Here’s why: these dollars have been allocated and approved to buy you new roads, additional sidewalks, boulevard trees and high quality park improvements. Together with ARRA dollars, these projects have kept people employed and contributed to our desire for neighborhood excellence.
Everything I have shared with you so far this evening provides the foundation for attracting new firms to Superior, as well as retaining our valuable existing businesses. With expert City staff in place to welcome, assist and serve them, we gained Lighthouse of Superior assisted living facility, and more Metro Plains residential housing in the Washington Building. We welcomed Perkins corporate office complex, AMI Engineers and Walcro, Incorporated. We also got rehab projects at Fraser Shipyards, Cenex Harvest States and Gavilon Grain dock plus an expansion at Exodus Machines. The investment of these nine initiatives is valued in excess of $33,000,000. Jeff Vito and Jason Serck continue to bring high caliber firms home, with their forthright style and customer-oriented can-do approach to economic development.
I am so very proud to tell you this evening about an innovative project that protects the environment that is taking place at our Landfill. Under the leadership of sharp City staff, most notably, Mr. Goetzman, the City has completed the construction of a methane gas collection system and companion flare. This system collects methane gas generated by the decomposition of municipal solid waste and combusts it, breaking it down to carbon dioxide, which is many times less harmful to the environment than the release of methane gas.
The methane gas is destroyed via a newly installed flare. We are able to measure and sell these volumes of gas as “carbon credits” or “offsets” on the open market. We have become members of the Climate Action Reserve, a national offsets program working to ensure integrity, transparency and financial value in the U.S. carbon market. The rewarding part for the City is that our Landfill was one of the first in the nation to be registered with the Climate Action Reserve. In addition, this innovation provides a new revenue stream for our important enterprise fund, the Landfill.
Along with 70 other Great Lakes Mayors from the United States and Canada, I remain invested in the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River. I have been invited to serve on the Board of the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative where we believe municipalities deserve a role in Great Lakes policy and resource allocation. We will be advocating for a voice in the re-negotiation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, a 38-year commitment on the part of both countries to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem.
We are extremely concerned about the introduction of Aquatic Invasive Species into the Great Lakes, be it Asian Carp or the organisms arriving in the ballast water of ships. While we are pleased with the best practice of deep water ballast exchange, the need for ballast water treatment remains. The Great Ships Initiative, which graces our waterfront, is the only fresh water ballast water testing facility in the world. The project will receive an infusion of $3 million as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Our concern for ballast discharge is tempered, however, by the very real economic constraints faced by the shipping industry.
We must remember that the ports of Superior and Duluth create 2000 jobs by transshipping $2 billion in cargo annually, generating a $200 million impact to the local economy. We lobbied for a uniform national standard for ballast water discharge as well as changes to the Wisconsin Ballast Water Discharge Permit that represented a reasonable compromise for all parties. We are making progress in striking the proper balance between economic prosperity and resource protection.
Tonight I am inviting you to celebrate with me the extraordinary dedication of the members of a local group that serves 531 children each year. Superior Youth Organization offers baseball and softball opportunities to children of all ages. These parents and volunteers perform on both the program side of the equation and the facility side of the equation offering America’s favorite past time to our kids.
For five years, we have had a Lease Agreement with SYO wherein they have maintained and managed Hayes Court Ballfield Complex, home of Steve Arnovich Field, Art Parenteau Field, Morrie Arnovich Field, Liebaert Field and the Women’s Softball Field. They have done a superb job of caring for this recreational facility.
You may be aware that last year, the City Council allocated $315,000 to make improvements at these fields. Prior to the City’s work, members of SYO raised thousands of dollars and spent hundreds of hours toward building a new concession stand and new dugouts, grading, fencing, turf improvements and more. With special help from Councilor Ed Anderson, the City added more fencing and a state-of-the-art lighting system to Morrie Arnovich Field, also known as the Babe Ruth field. The lights, offered by Musco, Inc, feature a computer-generated maintenance program, the first-ever of its kind in our recreation system. Steve Olson, especially, as well as Jim Ross served as construction managers for these projects, assisting the City every step of the way.
In the range of 30 individuals and companies have made monetary or in-kind contributions to this complex, among them the William Finn family, Genesis Equipment, the 14U Foundation, Enbridge, Superior Water, Light & Power Company, Reder Golf Memorial and the Superior Jaycees.
I would like to honor SYO now by asking the Board of Directors to stand:
Steve Olson, President
Jim Ross, Vice President
Jim Manion, Secretary
Doug Score, Treasurer
Other Board members: Don Dembroski, Jeff Engstrom, Steve Fregin, John Gidley, John Heinen, Jan Jago, Chad Martineau, Greg Rindal, Andrew Sislo and Amy Zembo
Now, I would like to invite ALL members of SYO, coaches, parents, players and others to stand. Help me thank this wonderful group of volunteers.
The work of this group characterizes what is best in our community. It was not enough to teach youngsters the game of baseball with its call for discipline, skill-building, teamwork and fun. SYO had a vision for the facility and they were willing to make a sacrifice of personal time, effort and energy to see their vision to fruition.
In closing, you live in a community that strives to offer you award-winning services, the wise use of resources, concern for our environment and an atmosphere where public-private partnerships create an unparalleled quality of life.
Thank you once again for your attendance this evening.