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Building a Vibrant Community

ELKINS — During this year of my final term as mayor of Elkins, I have been excited to see so much enthusiasm for the Vibrant Communities effort. Leaving public office after so many years is bittersweet, but it cheers me up to know there are so many people working so hard for the future of this town I love.

Looking back over my eight years as mayor and ten years on council before that, it is amazing to see all that has been accomplished.

Everything at City of Elkins is a team effort, of course, so I am not writing this to take credit. As we finish out this tough year, I just want everyone to think about how far we have come. I am confident that City of Elkins is in a good place to provide a strong foundation for the efforts of the Vibrant Community group.

During my time as mayor, we obtained state funding to cap the old city landfill, implemented a 1 percent sales tax, and expanded not only the city budget but also the budgets of the police and fire department. There are now three full-time firefighters on every shift where there used to be just one, and we are on track to add one more per shift next year. The police department will soon have 15 officers, in addition to the chief. Public safety is key to a vibrant community, so I’m glad these bases are covered.

I’m also proud of the commitment and creative thinking we’ve brought to supporting economic development. The last two years are the first time in city history when the annual budget has included a line item for demolishing dilapidated structures, which of course can be a big obstacle for new investment in our town. A creative, first-of-its-kind public/private partnership with Woodlands Development Group has helped us stretch our demolition dollar even further.

We are also making good progress on updating our water and sewer infrastructure, protecting the Tygart River with the stormwater/sewer separation project, and improving walkability. Our planning commission will soon present the first update to our zoning code since the 1950s. Modern infrastructure and zoning are key pieces of economic development, and these will also help Elkins become more vibrant than ever.

I feel blessed to have seen and been part of so many accomplishments for this city that I love. I only wish I had space to share more, because these are just a tiny fraction of the many great things going on at City of Elkins.

I’m proud to be leaving office when the city is on such an upswing. I can’t wait to see how vibrant this community can become!

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