"Reflections and Visions" was the topic Mayor Todd D. Barton presented at Monday's Lunch with the League. A lifelong resident of Montgomery County, Mayor Barton graduated from Crawfordsville High School and Wabash College. With a background as a Methodist Hospital Paramedic, Emergency Medical Technician for the Fire Department, Fire Chief 2004-2008 and Assistant Fire Chief 2008-2011, he is clearly concerned about health and safety of our community.

Mayor Barton stressed the importance of city and county working together along with Montgomery County Economic Development. This not always easy but he is working hard to communicate and was looking forward to participating in the "State of the Community" program at CHS Tuesday evening along with Commissioner Phil Bane, and Kristen Clary, new Director of MCED.

The appearance of friction between city and county has caused prospective investors to look elsewhere in the past. We need to stress our "community" rather than city or town.

There is a new pace in City Hall, moving quicker because there is a lot to accomplish. The Department Heads are making things happen. The remodeling of City Building this past summer was important. The entry and hall way were painted, leaks repaired, Mayor's office redone with enlarged Conference Room and reception area features local art. In 2013, the sound system in the Council Chambers will be upgraded so that everyone will be able to hear.

Mayor Barton campaigned on Economic Development being his top priority. City and County officials worked together to draft the "white paper". Joint resolutions on economic development were passed unanimously by both city and county boards. This economic development plan is unique to Montgomery County.

No longer "business as usual", we have to change focus, and work internally to be more effective. Former tax abatement procedures are now outdated. Our community must focus on what we have and grow what we have.

A key aspect is partnering with Wabash College and the new Ivy Tech which is now operational. This project was completed in two years from conception and under budget and with good working relationship with Ivy Tech. Members of the Crawfords-ville Redevelopment Commission have worked exceedingly hard as well as Brandy Allen to get this accomplished. Ivy Tech can help address the significant skills gap that we presently have in our work force. Ivy Tech allows local residents to improve their skills and open new doors of opportunity.

Right now the city is fiscally sound. Crawfordsville will restructure the budget process, especially in 2014, and needs to continue to be smarter and more effective than ever before.

Wastewater problems prompted notices from Departments of Justice and Environment a year ago. The city has identified the problems and brought in outside engineering experts to discover the causes and solutions. Now shifts have been reduced from three to two with greater efficiencies and cost benefits.

Solving the drainage problems on the north side has allowed the Cracker Barrel to be built. The Redevelopment Commission was helpful in funding. Issues with the Golf Course are being studied to assure that golf course can be maintained as an important asset of the city.

Great efforts and energy are being poured into 2013 Stellar Community Grant. Building on the 2012 application, groups have been meeting since fall to add new twists and a "super exciting proposal"

which could result in 17 to 19 million dollar investment downtown.

Mayor Barton expressed excitement and optimism about prospects for sale of electric utility as well as dealing with the old Culver Hospital and the Ben Hur Building. Other impressive activities are the new website soon to be up and running which will provide citizens more access to all city governmental activity and also allow online billing. Competitive bidding has led to changing health insurance carriers with huge savings to the city. Barry Lewis is bringing skills for enhancing communications and social media.

The Mayor enthusiastically outlined new approaches for parks, fire department, police department, new sweeper for street department. There is exciting energy and vision. The Mayor did identify the challenge of getting volunteers for the many city boards and commissions. Now is the time for interested citizens to offer time and talent to help Crawfordsville move forward!

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, multi-issue political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For information about the League, visit the website www.lwvmontco.org, send a message to LWV, PO Box 101, Crawfordsville or email lwvmontco@gmail.com.