Strong, optimistic, progressive, engaging, proactive and poised to handle more growth with open arms.
That’s how Mayor Ronnie Williams described Garner in his annual State of the Town Address, which he has presented each of his 11 years in the position.
He had only good things to say about the town in his prerecorded speech that was screened during the Town Council’s Jan. 17 meeting.
“I’m exceptionally pleased,” Williams said in a follow-up interview. “Each town across the state has its own bumps in the road and we’ve had some in years past, but the past year we’ve been in pretty good shape. There’s very little bad to report.”
Williams conceded one area where Garner could step up its game is in providing more opportunities for citizens to become engaged in town affairs. He praised the Police Department in his speech for doing just that – holding public forums in response to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report.
“We can always improve on that to get better,” Williams said. “We’re not perfect, but we’re working on it.”
The mayor applauded Rodney Dickerson for leading a smooth transition in leadership as he became town manager last year, and the council and staff for developing a long-range strategic plan for the town.
He spoke of progress on the town’s 2013 bond program, including the opening of a new police station and work beginning on a new Town Hall and recreation center. Both facilities are expected to open this year.
The town was wise, Williams said, in its decision last year to purchase the Meadowbrook Country Club property for a future park use.
“It is all part of our effort to oversee orderly growth in Garner and to provide the parkland and open space that citizens expect,” he said.
Garner Forward, the town’s comprehensive growth and transportation planning initiative, is underway and residents have been included in the process.
Williams pointed out the significance of such planning, as Garner’s population nears 30,000 and considerable residential and commercial growth is ongoing.
“All in all, we are very well positioned to grow and prosper in the years ahead,” he said.
Even with that growth, Williams ensured residents the town will continue to provide quality services.
“With wise leadership, strong partnerships and high levels of citizen engagement, I know that we can continue to move Garner forward and maintain the hometown spirit that our town is known for,” he said in concluding his address. “I am eager to see what the future holds for our All-America City. I encourage you to join us in the journey.”