As summer begins to give way to cooler fall-like weather I thought I would update everyone on a few key issues.

A few weeks ago I asked the people of this community for help in addressing an ongoing problem and you responded in a big way. I had consistently contacted CSX Transportation about the unacceptable condition of railroad crossings in our community. However, with little progress I felt that it was time they heard from those who are affected by the rough crossings daily. Many of you contacted them by telephone or through their website and I can assure you it has gotten their attention. Work had already been scheduled on Wabash Avenue and it has now been completed. In addition, they are evaluating and planning to address other areas as well. However, we have not received a timeline for those so I would suggest that you continue to contact them to supplement my ongoing efforts. I greatly appreciate everyone who took the time to contact them. It has been very helpful in gaining their attention. I believe by continuing our efforts we will continue to see improvements.

Our efforts to address the decades old problem of the old hospital property have made much news lately and I am happy to report that we are making significant progress. The City Council has approved funding for the economic development grant on first reading and will consider it on second and third readings at their October meeting. The remaining parcels of the property will be addressed by the County Commissioners in the near future and if all goes according to plan the run-down, blighted site should be in the hands of the developer within the next month. They will immediately begin to secure and clean up the property while preparing an application for housing tax credits this fall. A successful outcome that cleans up the site and returns it to a positive, tax-paying, productive use is finally within our reach. I would strongly encourage all those who want to see this addressed to show your support by attending the City Council meeting on Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.

Earlier this year I assembled a work group in response to the increasing financial challenges faced by our municipal golf course. The group was tasked with evaluating the status of course operations and developing a strategic plan to ensure its long-term sustainability. The group was comprised of representatives from the Golf Course Authority, City Council, Mayor, Clerk Treasurer and the Senior Golf Association. After much work, a clear list of attainable goals that would make the course sustainable was identified and a concise list of action items for attaining those goals created. These actions will require a cooperative effort by all involved but we believe they provide us with the opportunity to sustain and improve this valuable community asset. We will be presenting the findings and suggestions of the work group on Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the City Building. I would encourage anyone with an interest to attend the presentation. I am confident that although there is no magic bullet solution, we have created a solid, measurable plan focused on improving the situation.

I also receive many questions regarding the status of the Ben Hur Building. The property owner recently funded an engineering study of the exterior of the building. It has helped identify steps that need to be taken to secure the terracotta facing in order to prevent pieces from falling. This would allow the sidewalk barricades to be removed. I can assure you we are in involved in an ongoing effort to create an adaptive reuse for the historic property. There is considerable interest in the building and we are getting closer to a workable plan for moving if forward. Returning it to use will be beneficial to our downtown and the entire community.

These are just a few of the many issues we are working to address and I would welcome any suggestions or thoughts you might have. I can be reached at 364-5160 or via email at