Monday evening, Mayor Mark Senter gave his 15th and final State of the City Address. The mayor noted that it’s only his 15th State of the City because when he came into office in January 2008 the only thing left for him in the office were the keys, so he didn’t have any history to work with.
This year Mayor Senter’s speech was: Who are we? What are we? Where are we?
Who are we discussed being at the crossroads of northern Indiana, a Stellar Community, and several projects including Phase II of River Park Square, Phase III of the Greenway Trail, the renovation to the historic footbridge, Harrison Street Trail coming, and Water Street townhomes.
In the section What we are? Mayor Senter talked about the Common Council and the additional involvement they have. He said the Board of Public Works and Safety is diligently keeping the city going and growing. He also said the administration doesn’t micromanage and department heads go above and beyond and are financially diligent. Mayor Senter also addressed those who volunteer to serve on various boards helping to grow the city. Mayor Mark took time to mention all the departments in the city and the department heads.
The Where We Are? portion of Mayor Senter’s address he discussed changes in the Building Commissioner’s seat and introduced his replacement Dennis Manuwal. Mark was pleased to say the Baker Tilly report showed the city spent 88% of its 2022 budget commenting, “Ladies and gentlemen, that is a balanced budget, something we have witnessed in the past, but not always.” He was also happy to report a full staff at the Fire Department and after losing 8 officers in 6 months at the Police Department, with a new hire they are only down 3 officers now. Mayor Senter mentioned the current work to update the Comprehensive Plan, the newest cornerstone in downtown with the REES, and preparations for this year’s Sesquicentennial City celebration.
In closing the Mayor said, “I have just a thousand thank yous that I don’t plan on listing here tonight. Overall, I am very proud of what we have accomplished over the last several years. People always ask what the favorite part of my job is, and I always say, It’s the people! It’s not always positive, but they definitely keep us on our toes. Our citizens are what helps all of us in this room make this city go and grow!”
The complete State of the City address follows:
STATE OF THE CITY 2023
Who are we?
- Plymouth is a wonderful city at the Crossroads of Northern Indiana that has so much going for it right now.
- We are a Stellar Community, not only in name but also in stature. That has added several positive additions to our community through state grants by way of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and their many partners. The second Phase of River Park Square is nearly completed. The third phase of the Greenway Trail within River Park Square is still under engineering review and probably won’t be laid out until 2025.
- The 105-year-old Laporte Street footbridge renovation will be completed with new lighting this spring. This is an INDOT transportation enhancement project that, ironically, we found out we won during the 100-year flood of 2018.
- We have taken advantage also of Regional Cities grants that have brought the Bardwell Aquatics Center as well as a new office for the United Way and the Marshall County Community Foundation and Early Childhood Learning Center.
- Last September we realized the Regional Economic Acceleration Development Initiative (AKA READI) is bringing us the Harrison Street Trail from the Conservation Clubhouse to Packard Woods. And in the future the Water Street Townhomes Project as well as an entrepreneurial center to downtown Plymouth.
What are we?
- A city with a very active and conscientious Common Council that looks at and studies the many aspects of what is going on and each and every council meeting. I would venture to say that the current council is probably my favorite out of four terms because of the sub-committees that have popped up to study the many facets of The City…especially public safety, insurance, and human resources.
- We have council members that are not afraid to get into the weeds, if you will, and are always working with department heads to make things right for the betterment of our community.
- We have council members that have been on the front lines of law as well as law and order; council members that have banking backgrounds and human resource experts that bring their knowledge to not only council meetings but the sub-committees as well; we have council members that have ownership in businesses right here in our city; we have a Board of Public Work & Safety that diligently work to keep our city going and growing.
- I have prided my administration on not micromanaging. Granted, there are times when I probably should have been a little more alert. But, for the most part, our department heads have gone above and beyond in leading their departments in many ways: being financially diligent; working with fellow department heads when needed; leading their employees in the right direction; and always being safety conscious.
- Plymouth has voluntary board members that attend monthly meetings of the BOAC, Plan Commission, Zoning Appeals, Trees & Flowers Committee, Redevelopment Commission, and Parks & Recreation. This is NOT for pay, but it’s so refreshing that people want to be involved in something special to make our city go and grow. These folks are truly appreciated by all of us!
- We have a city attorney, Sean Surrisi, that leaves it all on the line and works non-stop keeping the council up to speed…whether its new ordinances…resolutions…law suits…and probably most importantly, the minutia of subject matters that many of us don’t even realize.
- Our clerk-treasurer, Lynn Gorski, is diligent in keeping the financials and record keeping like no one before her. Hopefully, she will be around a long time making things better for the City of Plymouth. And her staff is beyond reproach as well…doing their assigned duties and greeting the citizens with a smile!
- Human Resources is as solid as it has ever been. With a motive to learn and succeed, Jen Klingerman takes her job seriously and the employees of Plymouth appreciate her leadership.
- Promoting our city has been in the hands of Laura Mann for several years now. The best organizer that I have ever met this year is returning to the Mayor’s Months of Music with nine concerts in July, August, and one in September.
Where are we?
- In the next few months this city will be on a precipice of major changes. This Friday we are losing one of the charter members of this administration. Keith Hammonds has been talking about retirement and moving to The Philippines for years and it looks like it will come to fruition soon. Keith has been steadfast in his work as building commissioner dealing with the Plan Commission and BZA; Inspections; contractors; and at times code enforcement. Please stop by here on Friday from 1-3 to congratulate and say goodbye to Keith for the last time.
- As of the most recent Baker-Tilly report Clerk-Treasurer reports that in 2022 The City only spent 88% of the budget. Ladies and gentlemen, that is a balanced budget…something we have witnessed in the past, but not always.
- The Plymouth Fire Department is finally fully staffed and I witnessed that at its best Thursday afternoon at a major fire at a West Lincolnway business. I saw a true team effort of both full-time, volunteers and assistance from Culver and Argos as well.
- The Plymouth Police Department is doing the best it can after losing eight officers in six months. We swore in another new officer, Kenton Lovely, just this morning but we are still three down and Chief Bacon is diligently still out there recruiting more. I spoke last year about the take-home police car policy and that is genuinely something that has finally happened.
- Still with no city engineer, things are going well working with VS Engineering on a contract basis. We met with them this morning at 10 to begin work on the 2023 street projects. Ten streets or partial streets will be milled and repaved this year.
- The Michiana Area Council of Governments, AKA MACOG, is currently working with a large committee of community leaders for the implementation of a new Comprehensive Plan. It is coming along smoothly and a meeting last week proved some very thoughtful improvements for the future of our city.
- Our newest cornerstone for downtown is the revitalized Rees Theatre. What a great addition to downtown! There’s not a week that goes by without two or three events happening there. The Rees staff is working well with Wild Rose Moon and the Heartland Artists to make our city a destination from all over Northern Indiana. Between concerts, movies, lunch meetings, and private parties it has filled the parking spots and parking lots exactly the way the committee had hoped and imagined it six years ago! For all of those involved, thank you for this dream and dedication!
- We are a “Sesquicentennial City” this year and hope to plan a celebration of that later on in the year.
- In nine months, we will have new leadership at the top here in Plymouth for the first time in 16 years. No doubt, new council members as well leading this beautiful city where we all live, work, and play.
For my 15th and last State of The City (I did not do this in my first year of 2008) I just have a thousand “thank yous” that I don’t plan on listing here tonight. Overall, I am very proud of what we have accomplished over the last several years. People always ask what the favorite part of my job is and I always say, “It’s THE PEOPLE!” It’s not ALWAYS positive, but they definitely keep us on our toes. Our citizens are what helps all of us in this room make this city GO & GROW!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!