A list of accomplishments and upcoming projects was detailed by Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes during his annual State of the City address Thursday inside Arborwood. This year’s address was not only recorded to be streamed online, but it was also given live in front of a group of more than 150 guests, including each of the community’s service clubs.
After an introduction by Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shan Sheridan, Zonta Club of Frankfort Co-President Jeni Royalty and City Council President Jim Moyer spoke briefly before McBarnes took to the podium. After giving a brief background of his family’s history in the community and recognizing various individuals and organizations, McBarnes proceeded to give his perspective on the state of the city.
“We are financially strong,” McBarnes said. “We are experiencing transformational success, and we are poised for boundless growth. To move this city forward, we all must be fundamentally sound. Each and every single one of us have a hand in making the city of Frankfort a better place. But, we have to do the small things right.
“We must be passionate about our city,” he continued. “Now, we don’t always have to fully agree on how we take our city where we want it to be. That is representative democracy … but at the end of the day, we all need to be positive in our own way about the gem city. We all have a responsibility. Every post we make, every thing we say about Frankfort – you are an ambassador to Frankfort. And if we won’t stand up for Frankfort – the people who live here – then who can we expect to help Frankfort shine? We must continue to work together. Looking at the accomplishments that we have all worked together to share in these past eight years, it’s happened because of the partnerships between the city, the county, the townships, service organizations, private industries, small business – we come together for the greater good, and we must continue to do that.
“Last but not least, we must be terribly scared of average. We must be fearful of average,” he added. “It should keep us up at night. Let’s not just keep our head above water. Let’s not just tread. Let’s shoot above that. Let’s walk on water. Let’s be the best that we can become.”
Among the successes that McBarnes went on to list in detail were the Senior Homeowner Assistance for Repairs program, also known as SHARP, the city’s recycling program, the planning of Prairie Creek Park, Nickel Plate Flats, holding property owners “to task” through the Hearing Authority and changes in code enforcement, the Holiday Festival of Lights drawing more visitors to TPA Park, and bringing resource officers into each of the city’s elementary schools.
“I am proud to report that when the kids came back to school this August, we had school resource officers and a floating school resource officer throughout the city in every elementary school in this city, and we are very proud of that,” McBarnes said. “We are going to do everything we can to keep our kids safe.”
He also pointed to success in adding adaptive playground equipment to city parks, the start of a Grants for Grads program, public safety statistics, increased private investment and upgrading city utilities.
As for what is in store for 2019, McBarnes pointed to a continued focus on improving the city’s transportation infrastructure, encouraging home owners to reinvest in their property through a property tax abatement program, upgrading the public pool at TPA Park, and tackling the local substance abuse problem through the creation of a men’s treatment facility (one currently exists for women).
The final 2019 program announcement became the unveiling of the Frankfort Promise program. A partnership between Center Township, Community Schools of Frankfort and Ivy Tech, the Frankfort Promise program will help student from the township go to college.
“The goal of the program is to be able to have students going into our factories being provided the skills needed to work in those factories,” Center Township Trustee Kevin Evans said. “So, we got with the mayor and the city, Ivy Tech and the Community Schools of Frankfort to put this program together. What it will do is take funds from the (Tax Increment Financing) district, from Center Township training dollars we have in our budget and place those into a fund with the Ivy Tech Foundation. A student will be able to apply to an Ivy Tech School. If they are a resident of Center Township or the city of Frankfort and they graduate high school meeting the requirements that Ivy Tech is laying out in our agreement, once financial aid, scholarships and everything kick in, if they have a remaining balance, it is covered for their college tuition. They won’t owe a single penny.”