Local Leaders Give the State of the Community
The Battle Creek Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual “State of the Community” event on Monday at the Kool Family Center. Chamber President Kara Beer was the master of ceremonies. She unveiled the new Chamber logo, and also talked about their recent award as one of the top chambers in the state. Mayor Mark Behnke, Calhoun County Administrator Kelly Scott, and Battle Creek City Manager Rebecca Fleury spoke to the audience of more than 100 local citizens and leaders.
Scott spoke first, and called 2019 the “Year of Collaboration” in Calhoun County. She said the County’s financial status is strong, despite challenges in pension and healthcare costs and difficulty in finding new employees to fill open positions.
Scott also pointed to:
- The new county Public Defender’s office, which handles about 3,300 cases in a year. Previously, the county contracted with local attorneys as needed, but a state mandate to improve the public defender system led to the new department.
- The county is close to announcing a new initiative for county-wide public transportation services.
- The county will be releasing an update to the 2008 impact study regarding FireKeeper’s Casino. The original report predicted the casino would have both a positive and negative impact on the community. Scott says many of the negative predictions have just not materialized.
Mayor Behnke said, “We started the year with an unexpected budget shortfall after a loss of state reimbursements, became an All-America City for the first time in the middle and, at the end, made a historic trip to Japan, and hosted a historic visit from the President and Vice President of the United States. We have much to be proud of.”
The mayor said that for the first time since the 1960s, city voters will see a question on the ballot asking if they want to directly elect our Mayor. Voters will also decide if we should remove all gendered language from the city charter, using pronouns like they and them, instead of he, she, him, and her. The vote is March 10th.
Other points addressed by the Mayor:
- The city continues to work with our community partners to find the best options for affordable and accessible.
- The Fire and Police Department efforts to keep the city safe, and build relationships across the community;
- The Battle Creek Police Department’s Edward Byrne Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice ended, and showed us some marked improvements in our neighborhoods. The department also earned two exceptional accreditations, affirming their professionalism as a department.
- The Small Business Development team officially joined the city organization in 2019, and continues to play a critical role as a business liaison between business owners and regulatory agencies.
- 2019 was a banner year for our Battle Creek Executive Airport at Kellogg.
- The BC Vision movement continues, bringing leaders together from across the community to address jobs, education, and our culture of vitality.
City Manager Rebecca Fleury added to what the mayor talked about and added many other things. Check out the story map prepared by Fleury, Communications Manager Jessica VanderKolk and city staff.
Read Mayor Mark Behnke's State of the City 2020
The presentation will air on AccessVision in February, in the Keeping You Informed time slot – 6 p.m. Wednesdays, and on demand at accessvision.tv.