2015 State of the City

Transcript

GOOD MORNING AND PLEASE JOIN ME AT THE OUTSET TO THANK JOYCE WAUGH AND THE ROANOKE REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, AND DELLA WATKINS AND THE TAUBMAN MUSEUM FOR SPONSORING AND HOSTING THIS ANNUAL CIVIC EVENT AGAIN THIS YEAR. THANK YOU.

THIS IS MY SIXTEENTH STATE OF THE CITY. FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE FOLLOWED MY CAREER AND KNOW ME PERSONALLY, BECOMING MAYOR OF ROANOKE WAS A “HIGH SCHOOL DREAM COME TRUE” AND I HAVE BEEN VERY BLESSED AND HUMBLED BY THE TRUST THAT THE PEOPLE OF ROANOKE HAVE PLACED IN ME SO THAT I COULD SIT “IN THE CATBIRD SEAT” FOR FOUR TERMS AS MAYOR. THANK YOU ROANOKE. I HAVE PRACTICED 37 YEARS AS A LAWYER IN THIS COMMUNITY - TAUGHT AT 3 DIFFERENT COLLEGES: VIRGINIA TECH, JAMES MADISON AND VIRGINIA WESTERN, AND SERVED ON ROANOKE CITY COUNCIL FOR 24 YEARS, 16 AS MAYOR AND 8 YEARS PRIOR TO THAT ON THE COUNCIL. WHAT A GREAT BLESSING ALL THESE ACCOMPLISHMENTS HAVE BEEN IN MY LIFE AND TO ALL OF YOU I WANT TO SAY A SINCERE THANK YOU. THANK YOU ROANOKE!

BEING MAYOR OF ROANOKE IS A GREAT JOB AND THERE ARE ALWAYS LOTS OF FOLKS THAT RIGHTFULLY ARE CONSIDERING RUNNING FOR MAYOR. I’D LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO KENDRYK WHEELER WHO IS HERE WITH HIS MOTHER. HERE HE IS ON THE RIGHT IN THIS PHOTO, WITH THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA, TERRY McAULIFFE - AS ONE OF THE EIGHT STATEWIDE FINALISTS FOR THE VIRGINIA MUNICIPAL LEAGUE’S “IF I WERE MAYOR” ESSAY CONTEST. IN HIS ESSAY, KENDRYK WRITES “TODAY I BELIEVE THAT ROANOKE STILL IS A MAGIC CITY, ROANOKE HAS MAGESTIC VIEWS OF THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS, A THRIVING HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY, GREENWAY BIKE AND RUNNING TRAILS AND A BEAUTIFUL PARKWAY THAT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO VIEW ALL THAT THE ROANOKE VALLEY HAS TO OFFER.” HE FURTHER WRITES “I WILL RUN FOR MAYOR IN ORDER TO PRESERVE THESE GREAT ATTRIBUTES OF ROANOKE AS WELL AS MAKE SOME CHANGES TO ENHANCE OUR MAGIC CITY. I WOULD HELP CREATE MORE MAGIC IN THIS MAGIC CITY”. KENDRYK, YOU HAVE A VISION AND A PASSION FOR OUR GREAT CITY THAT WOULD MAKE YOU A GREAT MAYOR! CONGRATULATIONS KENDRYK WHEELER.

BEING MAYOR MEANS WORKING WITH A TEAM, AND ON A TEAM, AND THE PEOPLE OF ROANOKE HAVE WISELY CHOSEN A GOOD TEAM FOR ME TO WORK WITH…ROANOKE CITY COUNCIL AND OUR ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS.

VICE-MAYOR DAVE TRINKLE HAS BEEN A STRONG ADVOCATE IN BRINGING BROADBAND SERVICE TO THE ROANOKE VALLEY.

BILL BESTPITCH, A VETERAN OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY, IS LEADING AN EFFORT TO END VETERANS HOMELESSNESS HERE IN ROANOKE, AND WE WERE ONE OF THE FIRST CITIES IN VIRGINIA TO ACCEPT PRESIDENT OBAMA AND FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA’S CHALLENGE TO END VETERAN HOMELESSNESS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

RAY FERRIS IS A LONG TIME FRIEND, A DISTINGUISHED ATTORNEY, AND VERY WISELY GUIDES US ON THE CITY COUNCIL ON MAKING SURE THAT EVERY TAXPAYER DOLLAR IS CONSERVATIVELY SPENT.

SHERMAN LEA, HAS PERSONALLY EXHIBITED HIS INTEREST IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS AND COMMUNITY BY WORKING WITH OUR POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR A SUMMER YOUTH BASKETBALL PROGRAM, AND LEADING OUR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS.

COUNCILWOMAN ANITA PRICE NOT ONLY PUTS UP WITH ALL OF US GUYS ON COUNCIL, BUT SHE HAS RE-INSTITUTED, ALMOST SINGLE HANDEDLY, THE YOUTH SERVICES CITIZENS BOARD AND THE FIRST YOUTH SUMMIT IN YEARS WAS JUST HELD BACK ON AUGUST 1ST AT PATRICK HENRY HIGH SCHOOL.

COURT ROSEN ALSO SERVES AS A GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTEE ON THE VDOT STATEWIDE COMMONWEALTH TRANSPORTATION BOARD AND HE’S HELPING TO BRING I-73 THROUGH THE ROANOKE VALLEY.

AND THE GUY WHO “GETS IT” AND IS BRIGHT AND INNOVATIVE AND OF WHOM, MAY I REMIND YOU, SAVANNAH, FROM WHICH HE CAME, TOLD US THAT THEY WOULD GIVE US A “DOUBLE OUR MONEY BACK GUARANTEE,” IS OUR ONE-OF-A-KIND, EXCELLENT CITY MANAGER, CHRIS MORRILL, AND HE AND HIS FAMILY LOVE ROANOKE. WE CONTINUE TO BE AN AUTHENTIC SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN COMMUNITY, IN PART BECAUSE OF HIS VISION AND EXCEPTIONAL ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS.

PLEASE JOIN ME NOW IN RECOGNIZING THE MEMBERS OF ROANOKE CITY COUNCIL AND OUR CITY MANAGER.

LAST YEAR AT MY STATE OF THE CITY SPEECH, WE HAD A LOT OF FUN WITH “ROANOKE JEOPARDY” AND I THOUGHT I’D BRING IT BACK. GIVEN THE COLLECTIVE AGE OF THE AUDIENCE TODAY, I THINK PERHAPS WE SHOULD CALL THIS “THE SENIOR EDITION,” BUT IT IS A GOOD WAY TO IDENTIFY SOME OF THE SUCCESSES THAT WE’VE HAD HERE IN ROANOKE. JUST LIKE JEOPARDY, I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU THE ANSWER AND YOU CAN GIVE ME THE QUESTION.

THE FIRST ANSWER IS: 48 YEARS. AND THE QUESTION IS: HOW MANY YEARS HAS IT BEEN SINCE ROANOKE HAS HAD THIS LOW A CRIME RATE? THAT’S RIGHT THE LOWEST CRIME RATE SINCE 1967.

NUMBER 2 – TEEN PREGANCY AND THE QUESTION WHAT IS THE TERRIFIC DOWNTURN IN TEEN PREGNANCY IN ROANOKE…IN THE LAST 6 YEARS.

NUMBER 3 – THE ANSWER IS 86%: AND THE QUESTION IS, WHAT IS ROANOKE’S CURRENT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE, HAVING COME UP FROM AN ABYSMAL 59% JUST A FEW YEARS AGO.

NUMBER 4 – 200: AND THE QUESTION IS: HOW MANY ROANOKE STUDENTS HAVE MET THE REQUIREMENTS TO ATTEND VIRGINIA WESTERN COMMUNITY COLLEGE UNDER THE CITY’S CCAP PROGRAM?

NUMBER 5 – STAR CITY READS IS PROMOTING GRADE LEVEL READING FOR EVERY STUDENT IN THE 3RD GRADE HERE IN ROANOKE AND THIS IS OUR CURRENT ACHIEVEMENT RATE: AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS OUR 76% READING ACHIEVEMENT RATE?

NUMBER 6 AND THE ANSWER, IS ON A VALLEY METRO BUS! AND THE QUESTION IS, WHERE CAN A FAMILY RIDING A BUS IN ROANOKE FIND BOOKS TO READ? - OF COURSE ON VALLEY METRO.

NUMBER 7 THE ANSWER IS READ TO KIDS:

THE QUESTION: WHAT UNIQUE SERVICE DO ROANOKE POLICE OFFICERS PROVIDE IN ROANOKE CITY SCHOOLS.

NUMBER 8 THE ANSWER IS THE OLD BULLITT AVENUE:

THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS OUR ART WALK ON WHAT USED TO BE BULLITT AVENUE? HAVE YOU SEEN THIS OUTDOOR ART?

NUMBER 9 – ELMWOOD PARK. AND THE QUESTION IS: WHERE IS OUR BEAUTIFUL DOWNTOWN AMPHITHEATHER, HOSTING 30 COMMUNITY EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE SPRING, SUMMER AND FALL AND GREAT CONCERTS LIKE THE BEATLES AND JOAN JETT? WE CELEBRATE LOCAL COLORS, STRAWBERRY, BACON AND BOURBON FESTIVALS IN ELMWOOD PARK.

NUMBER 10 – THIS IS A BEFORE SHOT. AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS OUR RENOVATED CITY MARKET AND CITY MARKET BUILDING?

NUMBER 11 – THOUSANDS CAME TO ROANOKE TO SEE THE RETURN OF THE “QUEEN OF STEAM.” AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS THE 611? CONGRATULATIONS BEV FITZPATRICK AND THE VIRGINIA TRANSPORTATION MUSEUM ON THIS HUGE SUCCESS.

NUMBER 12 – ROANOKER’S ARE ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE RETURN OF THIS. AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS AMTRAK?

NUMBER 13 – THIS IS WHERE A YOUNG TEENAGER NAMED DAVID BOWERS MET HIS FIRST ROANOKE MAYOR. AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS NOW THE BERGLUND CENTER?

NUMBER 14 – THIS USED TO BE A MILL, CONCRETE COMPANY AND JUNK YARD. AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS THE VT-CARILION MEDICAL SCHOOL AND SURROUNDING DEVELOPMENT, THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE SINCE THE RAILROAD CAME TO TOWN IN THE 1880’S.

NUMBER 15 - PLACES TO STAY IN DOWNTOWN ROANOKE. AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS OUR CLASSIC HOTEL ROANOKE AND THE NEW DOWNTOWN HAMPTON INN?

NUMBER 16 – THE MOTOR “MAGNET” FOR WESTERN VIRGINIA. AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS HALEY TOYOTA AND NEIGHBORING BERGLUND CHEVROLET AND MAGIC CITY FORD RIGHT IN THE HEART OF ROANOKE?

NUMBER 17 – THE ANSWER IS: MMMMM GOOD. AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT DOES KRISPY KRÈME MEAN TO ROANOKERS?

NUMBER 18 – THE ANSWER IS - JOSH LEONARD, POLICE CADET, AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS THE ROANOKE POLICE DEPARTMENT’S UNIQUE, INNOVATIVE, ONE OF A KIND EFFORT TO BRING YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE JOSH LEONARD INTO OUR POLICE DEPARTMENT AS CADETS?

JOSH LEONARD IS HERE TODAY, PLEASE JOIN ME IN RECOGNIZING HIM.

NUMBER 19 – THE ANSWER IS: WHAT GREAT NEW WEBSITE WILL LAUNCH LATER THIS MONTH AND PROVIDE OUR CITIZENS WITH EVERYTHING THEY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ROANOKEINCLUDING ALL THE QUESTIONS FOR THE NEXT ROANOKE JEOPARDY, AND THE QUESTION IS: WHAT IS OUR NEW WEBSITE AT ROANOKEVA.GOV?

AND FOR FINAL JEOPARDY…THE ANSWER IS GREAT TERRIFIC FANTASTIC… AND THE QUESTION IS: ISN’T 2015 THE BEST STATE THE CITY HAS EVER BEEN…HECK … YES!!! DON’T YOU AGREE?

CHALLENGES

THERE ARE 3 CHALLENGES I NOW WANT TO ISSUE TO OUR REGIONAL COMMUNITY. NOT JUST IN ROANOKE, BUT FOR THE ENTIRE AREA.

1 – JOBS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE

2 – SUMMER YOUTH EMPLOYMENT

3 – FILLING THE HOLE IN THE ICE

MY FIRST CHALLENGE IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE CONCERN OF OUR COMMUNITY FOR THE LOSS OF JOBS OF THE US POST OFFICE, ADVANCE, NORFOLK SOUTHERN AND HOME SHOPPING NETWORK. LARGE JOB LOSSES ARE PUBLICIZED, YET JOB RETENTION AND EXPANSIONS ARE MOST OFTEN NOT EVEN ANNOUNCED. FREIGHT CAR AMERICA IS ADDING 80 JOBS AND THE $15 MILLION YOKOHAMA EXPANSION DIDN’T ADD ANY JOBS BUT DID RETAIN 800.

OUR CITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TEAM ADVISES ME THAT:

• OVER 625 JOBS HAVE BEEN CREATED THIS YEAR IN ROANOKE WITH NEARLY $45 MIILLION IN NEW INVESTMENT IN THE CITY.

• OUR 2015 UNEMPLOYMENT RATE WAS A LOW 5.0% COMPARED WITH 5.4% IN 2014.

• OUR GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP) IN THIS METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREA IS $13.9 BILLION, AN INCREASE OF 3.6%, AND WE CONTINUE TO DEVELOP GOOD RELATIONSHIPS WITH OVER 3,000 BUSINESSES LOCATED RIGHT HERE IN THE CITY. YOU SHOULD KNOW ALSO THAT THERE ARE OVER 13,000 ADVERTISED JOB OPENINGS IN THE ROANOKE METROPOLITIAN AREA AND THE ANNUAL AVERAGE WAGE IS JUST UNDER $40,000. THEY DON’T EVEN PAY THE MAYOR THAT MUCH!

AND I WANT TO SAY TO OUR BUSINESS COMMUNITY, HERE REPRESENTED BY THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, THAT, I KNOW, IT’S A GREAT HEADLINE TO BRING FOREIGN INVESTMENT INTO AN AREA, BUT IT’S AN EVEN BETTER INVESTMENT FOR US AND YOU TO WORK WITH THE VIRGINIA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP TO ASSIST LOCAL BUSINESSES TO BE ABLE TO REACH OUT AND EXPAND INTO INTERNATIONAL GLOBAL MARKETS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT YOUR BUSINESS CAN DO BY EXPANDING INTO CENTRAL AMERICA, ASIA, EUROPE OR CANADA! THAT’S WHAT ROANOKE’S BUSINESSESS NEED TO BE THINKING ABOUT WHEN IT COMES TO DEVELOPING INTERNATIONAL TRADE FOR THE ROANOKE VALLEY. ROGER PORTER IS HERE TODAY FROM VEDP… AND SEE HIM NOW IF YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS ARE INTERESTED IN EXPANDING INTO INTERNATIONAL MARKETS. INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION WOULD BE GOOD BUSINESS FOR ROANOKE’S BUSINESSES.

3. MY SECOND CHALLENGE IS SUMMER YOUTH EMPLOYMENT. ANOTHER COMMUNITY IN ANOTHER PART OF AMERICA DECIDED, FOR THEIR SIZE, THAT THEY WOULD HAVE A PROGRAM TO ARRANGE 100 JOBS FOR 100 KIDS. STILL ANOTHER COMMUNITY DEVELOPED A PROGRAM CALLED, “POCKET CHANGE.” I LIKE THAT TERM – THAT’S A CATCHY PHRASE. WHATEVER WE CALL IT, ROANOKE NEEDS TO DEVELOP IN 2016 SUMMER YOUTH EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE US CONFERENCE OF MAYORS TO BEGIN PROVIDING EMPLOYMENT EDUCATION, RESUME EDUCATION, INTERVIEW EDUCATION AND SUMMER ENTRY LEVEL JOBS TO OUR TEENAGE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE AND HELP IDENTIFY, FOR SUMMER 2016, A YOUTH EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM HERE IN OUR COMMUNITY. HOW MANY OF YOU BUSINESS LEADERS HAVE BEEN ASKED TO PARTICIPATE IN A SHORT 4 TO 6 WEEK SUMMER YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY PROGRAM WITH YOUR BUSINESS? PROBABLY NONE OF YOU. BECAUSE, WE’VE NEVER ASKED! AND, SO WE NEED TO DEVELOP THIS WITH OUR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, AND LOCAL BUSINESSES, SO THAT WE CAN HELP PUT A LITTLE “POCKET CHANGE” INTO THE POCKETS OF ROANOKE’S TEENAGERS, AND HELP THEM LEARN HOW TO GET AND KEEP A JOB.

MY THIRD AND FINAL PROPOSED CHALLENGE IS FOR THE ROANOKE VALLEY TO FILL THE “HOLE IN THE ICE.” AREA ICE ENTHUSIASTS MUST NOW TRAVEL TO LYNCHBURG, HUNTINGTON OR GREENSBORO TO MEET THEIR NEEDS. AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THIS WEST VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA AND VIRGINIA MAP … ROANOKE IS THE “HOLE” IN THE ICE FOR PROFESSIONAL ICE HOCKEY, COLLEGE ICE HOCKEY AND YOUTH ICE HOCKEY. WE DON’T HAVE THE PRACTICE ICE PAD THAT TEAMS NEED TO COMPETE. ROANOKE NEEDS A 2ND PAD PRACTICE ICE RINK TO SUPPLEMENT THE BERGLUND CENTER, AND WE NEED IT QUICKLY. IF WE EVER WANT TO ATTRACT A PROFESSIONAL ICE HOCKEY TEAM BACK TO ROANOKE, WE NEED A 2ND PAD. IF WE WANT TO PROVIDE A BETTER AND MORE CONVENIENT EXPERIENCE FOR AREA COLLEGE ICE HOCKEY TEAMS, LIKE VA. TECH, RADFORD, ROANOKE COLLEGE AND VMI, WE NEED A 2ND PAD ICE RINK IN ROANOKE. IF WE WANT THE 200 YOUNGSTERS IN OUR YOUTH ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE TO HAVE MORE PRACTICE AND PLAY TIMES, ROANOKE NEED’S A 2ND PAD. IF WE WANT MORE PUBLIC ICE SKATING, ROANOKE NEEDS A 2ND PAD. LET’S FILL THE HOLE IN THE ICE BY REGIONAL COOPERATION TO BUILD A 2ND PAD ICE RINK FOR THE ROANOKE VALLEY... FOR

- PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY

- AREA COLLEGE TEAMS

- YOUTH ICE HOCKEY AND

- MORE, VERY POPULAR PUBLIC ICE SKATING.

CLOSING

AND NOW, AS I GO TO MY SEAT, I WANT TO SAY TO ALL OF YOU HOW VERY PROUD I AM OF OUR SIX TIME ALL-AMERICA CITY. NO OTHER CITY IN AMERICA HAS WON THAT COVETED AND PRESTIGIOUS AWARD AS OFTEN AS ROANOKE. BUT THERE ARE SOME CITIES THAT ARE CATCHING UP, SO I WANT ROANOKE TO BE THINKING ABOUT COMPETING AGAIN FOR OUR 7TH PRESTIGIOUS AWARD IN 2017, BECAUSE WE HAVE SEEN THE “MAGIC,” THE “MIRACLE,” OF ROANOKE OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS. THAT IS AN IMPORTANT MISSION FOR ME AS YOUR MAYOR. AS I CONTINUE THIS SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY OF SERVING THE PEOPLE OF THIS GREAT CITY, I WANT TO PROMISE YOU THAT I WILL CONTINUE TO BE “A FRIENDLY MAYOR,” ONE WHO BELIEVES IN A “CAN DO” SPIRIT IN WORKING WITH OUR CITIZENS AND OUR BUSINESSES, AND A MAYOR WHO CONTINUES TO PROMOTE AND PUSH FORWARD A PROGRESSIVE AGENDA, NOT SET BY ME, BUT SET BY YOU, THE CITIZENS OF ROANOKE. AS A VISITOR TO OUR CITY RECENTLY SAID: “ROANOKE IS TANTALIZINGLY CLOSE TO CONNECTING ALL THE DOTS!”

AS KENDRYK WHEELER, THE YOUNG MAYOR-TO-BE, SAID: “LET US ALL CREATE MORE “MAGIC” FOR THE MAGIC CITY”… THE STAR CITY OF ROANOKE! BY ALL MEANS, LET US DO JUST THAT!

PLEASE LET ME CLOSE WITH THIS PHOTO OF MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE, MARGARITA CUBAS. SHE IS THE FIRST LADY OF ROANOKE AND, PERHAPS, IT’S APPROPRIATE THAT ROANOKE WAS NAMED ONE OF THE TOP 10 VALENTINE CITIES IN THE WORLD. SHE IS MY VALENTINE AND, TOGETHER, WE LOVE ROANOKE!