Mayor highlights 2012 achievements
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Jan 18, 2013 | 1143 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Vince McLaughlin, left, greets Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland Thursday afternoon during the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland meeting at Mountain View Inn. Rowland delivered an upbeat assessment of the city during his annual State of the City address to the club. Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
Vince McLaughlin, left, greets Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland Thursday afternoon during the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland meeting at Mountain View Inn. Rowland delivered an upbeat assessment of the city during his annual State of the City address to the club. Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
The Interstate 75 Exit 20 bridge replacement will go to a construction letting this spring. According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, two new bridges will be built in phases over a period of two years.

A new interchange off APD 40 will connect to Spring Branch Industrial Park and is currently in the right-of-way acquisition phases. The project is expected to begin in summer of 2013 with another two years to completion.

“Annexation of the new industrial park brings us closer to the Chattanooga city limits. In fact we are only 5 1/2 miles between our city limit and theirs,” he said. “The Benton Pike intersection realignment with Michigan Avenue Road, widening of Durkee Road and intersection improvements at U.S. 64 are part of the state industrial access road program to help traffic flow going to and from the new Whirlpool plant,” he said.

April is the projected completion date on the Dalton Pike widening project from near Gilliland Road to U.S. 64. The contractor has opened traffic throughout the job with one lane in both directions. There will be lane shifts as, due to temperature constraints, final paving will not be placed until next spring.

“As our city grows and construction increases, Cleveland Utilities does a great job working to improve traffic signals and traffic flow throughout the city, on our city streets and in our neighborhoods,” the mayor continued. “You have probably heard or read about Cleveland Utilities’ aggressive Scope 10 Project. It’s a $30 million 10-year project, which will result in better health in a better environment.

“Scope 10 is in its second year and the progress will seal broken, cracked or damaged sanitary sewer lines. This will help reduce sewer overflows that get worse during heavy rains, causing groundwater infiltration into cracked lines and damaged manholes.”

He said Lee University will once again put Cleveland in both the national and international spotlights when the Festival Choir performs at the presidential inauguration Monday.

“Fox & Friends” recently toured Lee to prepare national stories leading up to the events. The segments are expected to air the morning of Jan. 21.

“Our historic downtown continues to expand with business and living opportunities. Joining existing loft apartments will be several new additions that will be completed in weeks to come. More are on the drawing board, which means new opportunities for retail and restaurants,” Rowland said.

A partnership between Lee University and Cleveland businessman Allan Jones resulted in a plan to develop the former First Baptist Church property and several adjoining buildings to create a music performance hall and bring the campus further into the historic downtown area. The plan calls for more green space and a further enhancement of MainStreet’s efforts to revitalize downtown.

Another highlight of the year was staged on the Lee campus when Billy Graham Avenue was dedicated in February 2012.

“This project started about five years ago when I contacted the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to have them sanction the naming of the street. Finally, a letter from the legal department gave us the go-ahead. This was historic because Graham attended college here and resided in Medlin Hall. The 15th Street stretch became the new Billy Graham Avenue, and dead ends at the dormitory where he once lived. Once the street naming was sanctioned, we were able to secure a member of Billy Graham’s family to attend our official dedication. Thanks to Dr. Paul Conn, president of Lee University, for his overwhelming support of the event.

“The day came and the program was held in the beautiful new Math and Science Building. Voices of Lee participated and Gigi Graham represented her family at the event. She brought with her stories and memories of Cleveland from her father. And he made three requests. He wanted Gigi to bring home photos of the campus, his dormitory, the shoe store (Belk) where he once worked downtown, and the First Presbyterian Church where he worshipped while he lived in Cleveland. Gigi made a tour of the campus and the downtown area, capturing photos to take home. She was also presented a replica of the city street sign for placement in the Billy Graham Museum in Charlotte [N.C.].”

“The old train depot restoration was completed in 2012 and it’s a beauty,” Rowland said. “It continues to be a transportation center as headquarters for the Cleveland Urban Area Transit system. [Bus] ridership continues to rise and new routes added as needed.”

The mayor said MainStreet Cleveland is to be commended for its hard work in preserving the rich heritage of Cleveland and incorporating its history into each project. This spring, the Sons of the American Revolution chapter will dedicate a statue of Col. Benjamin Cleveland, the city’s founder and namesake. It will be positioned in the new First Street Square, a park that has become a venue for many downtown events.

Since 2011, a number of partners in Cleveland have collaborated on the Tennessee Targeted Community Crime Reduction program that is funded by an $800,000 grant. The project is aimed at reducing crime related to alcohol and drug abuse, while also targeting criminal recidivism. The mayor praised the partnership which includes Cleveland Police Department, Bradley County Juvenile Court, Behavioral Research Institute, Cleveland Boys & Girls Clubs and Cleveland City Schools.

Cleveland/Bradley Greenway experienced further expansion in 2012 with completion of Phase V, which connects Raider Drive at Cleveland High School to a pedestrian bridge in Tinsley Park. The main Greenway route offers almost four continuous miles from Willow Street to the Home Depot at Mohawk Drive.

Other connector paths are in the works that would make vast quantities of the city accessible by foot and offer greater opportunities for walkers, runners, dog owners and others, Rowland said.

“Plans to expand the Greenway are in progress, and I cannot say enough about our Greenway board chaired by Cameron Fisher,” Rowland said. “Their work through the years is providing us a healthier lifestyle for all ages. Thanks also to Judge and Mrs. Andrew Bennett for their generous donation of property north of Mohawk Drive, which allows further expansion for our Greenway.”

Cleveland has maintained its commitment to contribute $2 million to the development of a proposed veterans home with construction. The home will house and offer services for up to 108 veterans and create over 260 jobs in Cleveland. When construction begins will depend on VA funding.

A $55,000 grant from TDOT will allow Cleveland to enhance beautification, litter control, recycling and environmental projects through educational programs and community activities.

Cleveland is working toward a “No Kill City” designation in regard to animal control. Hard work by many organizations, as well as Animal Control, have led to a sharp decline in the number of euthanized animals, the mayor said. The board continues to consistently seek ways to save the lives of abandoned animals, the threshold for the title of a “No kill City.”

Last year saw re-election of City Council members, including At-Large Councilman George Poe, Vice Mayor Avery Johnson, 3rd District; 4th District David May; and Dale Hughes in District 5.

The city continued under the excellent management of City Manager Janice Casteel and Assistant City manager Melinda Carroll.

“Once again, we can be assured that our city’s money is in good hands, as the city of Cleveland was awarded a certificate of achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association. This makes 24 consecutive years of receiving the award. The city also received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, which it has been given for the last 13 years,” he said.

“The city has adopted the 2012 tax rate for the 2013 fiscal year, meaning property taxes have not increased since 2005. The city departments continue to operate on a balanced budget. The city’s bond indebtedness level is comfortable and our credit rating remains strong.”