Superior mayor to recognize rank-and-file city workers
When the snow fills the streets, it isn't Assistant Public Works Director Jeff Goetzman who climbs in the grader to clear a path. And when the lawn in Superior's parks needs trimming, you're not likely to find Parks and Recreation Administrator M...
When the snow fills the streets, it isn't Assistant Public Works Director Jeff Goetzman who climbs in the grader to clear a path.
And when the lawn in Superior's parks needs trimming, you're not likely to find Parks and Recreation Administrator Mary Morgan firing up the tractor to make it neat again.
Traditionally, when Mayor Dave Ross takes the stage for his annual State of the City address he recognizes the efforts of city managers.
This year, Ross said he is breaking from tradition to recognize the men and women who make the city hum.
"A lot of things we do is a result of somebody really challenging us to think about how we do things," Ross said. "There were a few people that work for us that said: 'You know what, Mayor, you honor your administration every year. You honor the good deeds of citizens throughout the community. You take time to acknowledge progress. And the work force -- the 200-plus people who hit the streets every single day and make things happen in the community are not acknowledged.' And I realized these are everything people do.
"We really should honor those people who come to work every day, pick up your garbage, trim your trees, process the mountains of state and federal paperwork, answer the phone, process and respond to hundreds of questions, all with pretty incredible precision," he said. "This is how we've been able to give back to the community the customer service they deserve."
But some traditions won't change as Ross presents his sixth annual State of the City address at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Rothwell Student Center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
As in years past, Ross will recognize those who paid the ultimate price to serve their country and the public. The deaths of Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Pionk and Staff Sgt. Jeremy Vrooman, both of whom lost their lives serving in Iraq in 2008, and Jason Zunker, a Superior native and Chippewa County sheriff's deputy who died in the line of duty, will be remembered.
"These are people who put themselves in harm's way for us," Ross said.
And no State of the City address could ignore the state of the city's economy and the businesses that keep people working in the region.
From the new block 40 fighter jets that will extend the mission -- and jobs of 200 of Superior and Douglas County residents -- at the 148th Fighter Wing base in Duluth to the $4.3 million investment in Exodus Manufacturing and $4.5 million renovation of the Washington Building at 1517 Tower Ave., will all garner due attention. So will the small business investments such as Ron Gustafson's renovation of a former grocery store for commercial and office space, and the Bachand family's and Dale Yeat's renovation of buildings on Belknap Street will also be noted. Ross said small business is the backbone of the city's economy and projects like those make the city sparkle.
Field Logic, Twin Ports Testing, Genesis Equipment, Midwest Energy, Charter Films and Amsoil -- all Superior firms -- will be honored for leadership on a national and world level in their respective industries.
Ross said 2008 was another good year for business in Superior but there are some troubling signs on the horizon, such as the layoffs at Genesis and closure of WS Live that will eliminate more than 70 jobs indicate Superior won't be untouched by the global economic crisis.
The mayor said he plans to share the praise given Superior for leadership in Great Lakes issues offered last summer by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
Superior, Toronto and Chicago were the cities mentioned as taking the initiative to protect the nation's largest freshwater lakes, Ross said. He also plans to praise the council for the initiative it's taking to increase recycling in the city, and city and Parkland leaders for the historic agreement that would regionalize waste water management and solve the town's long-standing problems with septic systems. He said the agreement, which he can't take credit for, is a win-win for Superior, Parkland and the Great Lakes.
And, no State of the City address would be complete without recognition of a citizen.
Ross plans to check in with last year's honoree, Chesare McLaughlin, and the fame garnered for her efforts to cleanup Superior. She was 4 years old when she became the mayor's youngest honoree.
This year's honoree is only a little older. At age 11, Tyler Nystrom's attention to detail and accurate reporting of a crime ended a burglary spree in Superior's East End.