There are so many events that have taken place around our community it is hard to acknowledge all of them. As mayor, I am often asked to attend and sometimes participate in some of these events. And I can tell you that being a part of some of these events holds special meaning.
Earlier this month my wife and I attended the graduation ceremony held at Central Community College-Columbus (CCC). They bestowed the honors on about 180 graduates at their 53rd annual commencement ceremony. It was a nice program that recognized the commitment these individuals have made.
There were many first-generation graduates and you could see the pride in their faces and the faces of their family members in the crowd. There were many with their two-year associate degrees that will take them directly into our workforce capitalizing on their education and skills. And there were many that will take their earned credit hours and apply them toward their next step in education at a four-year university.
This evening was a great reminder of just how important CCC is to our community. The facilities are second to none and the demand for their students is none stop. The fact is that over 80% of these students will remain in our area. They will work in our industries, live in our communities, and raise their families here. I’ve said it before-CCC is a hidden jewel in Columbus. We are blessed to have them.
National Day of Prayer was held on May 6th with an event at Frankfort Square. This year the event went on all day with hourly prayers being done by different community churches. And then at 7:00 the evening concluded with prayers for specific areas of importance.
We prayed for government, business/workplace, arts/media, education, military, families, and church. Governor Pillen joined us with his prayer for government while I prayed for our businesses and workplaces. It is critical that in today’s society we take the time to look to the Lord for guidance. And we ask for his continued blessing in helping us make the right decisions for our community.
This month I welcomed the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) convention to Columbus. It was an honor to welcome this group of men and women and thank them for their service. I am not a veteran. That was not a path taken in my younger years so whenever I have the opportunity to be front of any of our veterans it is truly an honor.
As of this writing, we are just a few days away from getting the keys to our new Community Building. The major construction is about done but there will still be plenty to do. Moving of the library materials, furnishing the building, computer setups and wiring. All of this will keep people busy for a period of time. We are shooting for a July opening. It is hard to imagine that this voter-approved facility is about to become be done.
I would be remiss if I wrote about the goings on in our community and I didn’t talk about road construction. Yes-no matter what part of Columbus you are in there is road construction taking place. Whether it is along 23rd Street/Highway 30, 48th Ave., or the Bradshaw Park area, work is taking place all over.
We recognize that this construction causes disruption, delays and frustration. But the work is necessary and we do our best to minimize the headaches. As our city grows so does the need for new roads and the wear and tear on old roads. The construction window for these project is limited. We ask for your patience as we work to improve our community.
With the arrival of nicer weather, it is great to see the public utilizing our parks, ballfields, trails, and golf courses. Our Parks Department has done a great job of getting our facilities ready for the season. The ballfields have been full with weekend tournaments and golf leagues are underway. Memorial Day weekend will see the opening of the Plunge and the staff has done a good job of hiring enough lifeguards (many communities are having difficulties finding guards).
We are blessed to have some wonderful facilities and our Park and Rec team is constantly developing more activities to enjoy in them. Parks and Rec is one of the fastest-growing departments within the city. We recognize the need for amenities that cater to the needs of our citizens. It is an ongoing challenge to offer what is needed and expected. We have some awesome activities scheduled for our kids this summer. Learn more at columbusne.us
With that in mind, we are currently undergoing a study to look at the future of Pawnee Park and Gerrard Park. What needs to be done to update our facilities? Memorial stadium, tennis courts, pickleball courts, ball fields, and more. We have held outreach with the public asking for their input. And we have an online survey that everyone can take (https://tinyurl.com/2p9ae3y3). Maintaining great amenities is an ongoing process.
Speaking of parks, at our May 15th Council meeting, we approved the new turf for Memorial Stadium. And we are making the field multi-purpose. It will have football lines and markings and soccer lines and markings. This is a great addition to Memorial Stadium and will greatly expand the use of this awesome facility.
At the same Council meeting, a lot of discussion was held on some proposed changes to Frankfort Square. The reason behind the changes is to try and enhance the use of the area as we work to revitalize downtown. As with many things, there were pros and cons to the ideas. One of the major cons brought up was the possible disruption of the flag holders that are in place. The Council heard these concerns and made changes to the proposal before it moved forward. Those changes to be made WILL NOT remove any flag holders.
We continue to work on communicating better with the public. A week doesn’t go by without hearing someone say “I didn’t know that” or “when was that discussed”. I realize that we cannot completely solve the communication problem and that citizens need to take some responsibility for finding out what is happening. But we are committed to doing better.
Our communication manager, Matt Lindberg, continues to get information out almost daily. Have you caught his newest-City Government 101? This is our attempt to inform the public of the hows and whys of city government. The first article, out early this month, The Mayor, and it detailed the duties and responsibilities of the Mayor. The second article, The City Council, and it detailed the duties and responsibilities of the city council. These will be followed up with articles about property tax, the city administrator, and many more. You can assess these at columbusne.us
Memorial Day weekend closes out May and gives us an opportunity to enjoy family, friends, and give thanks to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. For those who have served, there is a saying. “All gave some and some gave all!” To those that gave all we take time on Memorial Day to say THANK YOU!
Something Good Columbus.
This column is also published in The Columbus Telegram.