Mayor: Kendallville received a ‘makeover’ in 2015

February 24th, 2016

News Coverage:

February 19, 2016

Mayor: Kendallville received a 'makeover' in 2015

Dennis Nartker

KENDALLVILLE — Continued blight elimination, funding support for Noble Trails and expanding the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex, and planning for downtown streetscape improvements are among Mayor Suzanne Handshoe’s goals for this year.

Handshoe, who is seeking her fourth consecutive term as mayor, announced her administration’s priorities for 2016 and reviewed last year’s accomplishments during her State of the City address at the annual Mayor’s Breakfast Thursday morning at the Kendallville Event Center.

More than 170 people — local business leaders, members of civic organizations, city department superintendents, City Council members, East Noble School Corp. administrators and invited guests — attended the event sponsored by the Kendallville Economic Development Advisory Committee and the Kendallville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“If there was a theme that presented itself over the course of 2015, I would say it was a year of extreme makeover,” Handshoe said.

She mentioned Garrett LLC’s demolition of the longtime vacant Dalton and Kendallville foundries; the use of an Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority grant to remove three abandoned houses; and the use of an Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Grant from IHCDA to rehabilitate five homes this summer.

“This is only the start. Neighborhood beautification and improving the livability of our community will continue to be a real emphasis of my administration,” she said.

As for the economy, she pointed to the collaboration between the Noble County Economic Development Corp.Northeast Indiana Works and Freedom Academy in developing the Manufacturing Entry Training Academy, or META, and the Manufacturing and Education Alliance in response to the shortage of qualified workers for local companies.

META provides entry-level, manufacturing-related skills training to program participants, and the Manufacturing and Education Alliance brings educators and businesses together to address local workforce issues and expose students to possible future careers in manufacturing.

She praised several local businesses for their investments and job creation last year.

In 2015, the city’s Redevelopment Commission approved nearly $44,000 in facade grants, enabling nearly $100,000 in improvements to downtown buildings and businesses.

The city spent $420,000 on paving streets last year, and the Street Department budget was increased this year so it could make more improvements, Handshoe said.

Converting the city’s 641 street lights to LED to save energy and tax dollars was approved by the City Council last year. In 2016, 104 LED lights will be installed as part of a multiyear project.

Work on a multiuse pathway by Noble Trails connecting Rome City and Kendallville began last year. More than a mile has been cleared and is ready for paving this year.

Handshoe was proud of the fact that the land and infrastructure improvement investments made by the Kendallville Local Development Corp. within the East Industrial Park — which began 14 years ago — have been paid off.

“Kendallville is one of only a small handful of communities across the state that continues to use this tax (county economic development income tax) strictly as it was originally intended rather than a slush fund of sorts,” she said.

She also mentioned as examples of last year’s “extreme makeover” theme: the new pavilion at the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex built by the Rotary Club; the facelift to the Kendallville Youth Center paid for with a Dekko Foundation grant; and the 900 feet of mutiuse pathway around Bixler Lake installed through the collaboration between the Street, Park and Recreation and Water Pollution Control departments.

Goals for her administration this year include:

  • Tightening and updating ordinances designed to assist with blight elimination;
  • Securing funds for Noble Trails and the next phase of the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex that will have a second ring of ballfields;
  • Finalizing plans for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant to achieve full Indiana Department of Environmental Management compliance;
  • Starting construction of a new Indiana Department of Natural Resources boat ramp at Bixler Lake; and
  • Commencing in earnest the planning for a downtown streetscape makeover.

“I can’t help but remain enthused about our future if we continue to focus our collective energies and ambitions toward furthering those community values that have served us so well,” Handshoe said.