6 Month Check-in

It’s been (a little over) 6 months, so it seems like a good time for a recap.

When I was campaigning, I told you that I wanted Simpsonville to focus on three areas: economic development, community & culture, and One Simpsonville, United.

Let’s look at those more closely:

Economic Development:

As I’ve said before, in a city like Simpsonville, community development IS economic development, and as I said at the June Committee of the Whole Meeting, successful municipal community and economic development begins with elected officials making an organizational commitment to community and economic development. At that time, I made a motion to charge our City Administrator with creating a strategic plan for community and economic development in Simpsonville. The Committee moved that motion to the July 12th business meeting for consideration of Council, and Council approved us moving forward with such a plan. This is great news in light of the recently announced MASC economic development grants.

In support of community and economic development, several business and community leaders presented to Mayor Curtis and the City of Simpsonville a check for $1000.00 to illustrate their commitment to partnering with the City in a One Simpsonville effort to make economic development a priority. The City of Simpsonville will seek to grow the account by pursuing grants and in future budgeting efforts.

Community & Culture:

Museum Signs: In April, I was contacted by the Simpsonville Museum of Revolutionary War History (which is run completely by volunteers). They wanted to know if the city could help them purchase some signage to help let the public know their location and hours. I told them that I didn’t think the city could afford to do that given the great number of critical needs we were currently reviewing in our budget workshops. However, I thought this would be a great opportunity to bring together some citizens, businesses, and our government in a One Simpsonville effort to help increase access to this cultural service through signage. So I reached out to Jason Knudsen, our City Planner, to inquire about what kinds of signs would work for the Museum’s purpose. Then, I reached out to our community to ask for their help. Within just two days, we had collected enough money to purchase appropriate signage. Today, if you drive past the historic Simpsonville Elementary School building, you can see these portable sidewalk signs that indicate the location and operating hours of the museum.

Arts Center Feasibility Study: As of July 8th, the Arts Center Feasibility study is officially underway! Read the most recent progress update here. We first started talking about this back in March. Since then, the motion passed from Committee of the Whole to full Council, where it was approved. Mr. Dyrhaug and Mr. Knudsen have since pulled together the appropriate people to help complete the study, so we can determine once and for all whether or not it’s feasible to house an Arts Center in the historic Simpsonville Elementary School. Further, the group of people working together on that feasibility study include business owners, citizens, city staff, and non-profit representatives—and that’s what One Simpsonville is all about.

 Symphony (free!): We brought the Greenville Symphony Orchestra back to Simpsonville for the Independence Day Celebration at Heritage Park. And we were able to do it with free parking and free admission, increasing access to community and cultural programs and services. We were able to offer it free by embracing the One Simpsonville spirit of collaboration and partnership. The event was made possible by partnering with the following:

  • Greenville County,
  • Greenville Health Systems,
  • Greenville Technical College,
  • Lockheed Martin, and
  • Laurens Electric Cooperative.

 

One Simpsonville, United:

In addition to all the One Simpsonville examples above, we have a few more efforts that come to mind. What these efforts share is a concerted effort to invite citizens, businesses, and non-profits to participate in the processes and projects of the City. They also share a willingness to be open and responsive to the ideas, suggestions, and desire to help improve the community presented by members of our community.

Fire Safety House/Modern Woodmen of America Partnership: This is such a great example of the true One Simpsonville spirit. In this venture, we have truly united our city—its citizens, its businesses, and its government—working together for continuous improvement. Read more about how here.

 Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County: While the City was not an official partner in the recently completed build on Boyd Ave, several city leaders attended the wall-raising and the dedication ceremony and met with Habitat leaders to discuss how to create an effective, mutually beneficial relationship as we move forward. This is important because the Boyd Ave project did include partnerships with many private citizen volunteers, local businesses, and our local faith community. We need to continue to grow such relationships.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’ve strengthened our relationship with our Chamber of Commerce. Chamber leaders will be intimately involved in the formulation of the strategic plan for economic development. Recently, the Chamber’s Leadership Simpsonville group presented to us their planned projects for this year, which include the construction of an ADA-approved Sensory Playground and swings and signage for downtown. These projects will be a huge asset to our community. Council voted unanimously to support the projects. You can help donate to the Sensory Playground here. In another recent partnership, the Chamber and the City of Simpsonville worked together to collect, assemble, and distribute appreciation packages to the employees of the Simpsonville Police Department.

We did all of this while also passing a budget with no tax increase. And we worked with Public Works on a plan to privatize some of our sanitation services to save money and increase the quality of service to our citizens.

It’s been a busy year so far, and I’m not saying it’s been perfect, but I am saying this: we’re making progress. We’re moving in the right direction. And we’re going to continue on this path because that’s what’s best for Simpsonville.

Meeting Recap

Here’s a quick recap from last night’s meeting in case you were’t able to attend.  Also, the MP3 will be up later today, and it’s only 30 minutes long, so you may want to check it out!

Mayor Curtis issued a proclamation recognizing and honoring Daniel Madriaga.

Daniel Madriaga is the owner of Black Belt Attitude ATA Karate School.  He has 3 schools in Greenville County with 2 of them being in Simpsonville (one on NE Main Street and the other in Five Forks).  On June 29, 2016, Daniel Madriaga will be elevated to the rank of Master in the ATA Karate.  His is currently a 6th degree black belt.  He has been studying karate since he was 10 years old and became a black belt at the age of 12.  He began teaching Taekwondo at the age of 15 years old.  In 2004, he was teaching in the Miami FL area.  In 2011, he decided to open his own karate school and began looking at different places to move and open a school.  He considered GA and NC and found SC to be the best fit and opened his first school in Simpsonville, SC.  The school will celebrate 5 years on June 24-25, 2016.  Under Daniel Madriaga’s leadership, his schools are teaching Simpsonville citizens life skills such as discipline, self respect, self-defense, honesty and self esteem development.  He has saidthat “The classes are not just about kicks and punches.  It also teaches students how they should behave everywhere and helping them do better.”

Daniel Madriaga will become the 3rd karate Master in Greenville County and the 1st in Simpsonville.  This is a high honor for him, his schools and the City of Simpsonville.  His schools will have a Belt Promotion Ceremony on July 23, 2016, and the students and parents will be recognizing him for reaching such a high goal.

The Leadership Simpsonville Class of 2016 was again present at our meeting to give some additional information about their upcoming projects. Check them out on Facebook here for additional info.  Council voted unanimously to approve these projects.

Council voted unanimously to charge City Administrator David Dyrhaug with developing a strategic action plan for ongoing community and economic development.  Read more here.

Council voted 4 (Gooch, Hulehan, Cummings, Curtis)-3 (Graham, Braswell, Lockaby) to approve on 1st reading Ordinance 2016-03, which is the ordinance commonly referred to as “Council Rules.”  We’ve been working on this since the first of the year.  The next vote will take place at the August business meeting.

The Sewer Loan was moved to an upcoming meeting because it requires more analysis per City Administrator.

Council voted unanimously to appoint Mr. Jay Crawford as Public Works Director.  Mr. Crawford has been serving as Interim Director since January, and he’s been doing a great job.  We are lucky he’s willing to take on this role permanently.

Council voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Ms. Christine Furino as City Treasurer for the remainder for the current term of office (ending December 31st, 2017).  Ms. Furino recently accepted the job as Finance Director. Ms. Furino has been with the City of Simpsonville since late 2013 as the City’s Senior Accountant Supervisor.  We are grateful she is willing to serve in this additional role.