Chamber, Kiwanis hosts annual ‘State of the City’ luncheon

By Benjamin Chase of the Plainsman
Posted 4/19/24

State of City held Thursday

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Chamber, Kiwanis hosts annual ‘State of the City’ luncheon


HURON — Huron Chamber and Visitors Bureau and the Huron Kiwanis Club hosted the Huron State of the City luncheon Thursday at Huron Events Center.

Chamber President/CEO Laurie Shelton opened by recognizing the state legislators and county commissioners in attendance and introducing Mayor Gary Harrington.

Harrington joked that one of his accomplishments as Mayor was disseminating the talk at the State of the City event to individual commissioners. He then introduced Commissioner Shawn Harvey to kick off commissioner reports.

Harvey gave an update on each of his departments, beginning with the Huron Public Library. He encouraged all in the community to participate in the summer reading program, which is open to all ages. He then thanked the street department for the hard work that they do, along with highlighting the milling and paving that has begun around town.

Finally, he acknowledged the city engineering department for their work. Harvey highlighted the accomplishments of the engineering department in 2023, including completion of the wastewater treatment facility and the removal and replacement of the parking ramp north of the Event Center. He noted that it is set to be paved this coming week.

Commissioner Rich Bragg was next up, and he covered his departments, including upgrading 3,000 water meters by the water department and the city’s water receiving a state award for drinking water excellence for the 23rd consecutive year. He then addressed the solid waste department, addressing the fall of the new solid waste building. Bragg stated that a new timeframe for completion is being determined currently. He did emphasize that the new drop off site for yard waste was not affected and is viable currently, with more improvements coming, including automation of the drop off site that will allow residents 24/7 access for certain items to drop off.

Bragg then addressed the events going on with Parks and Recreation. He noted that staffing for summer has been an emphasis lately as the department prepares to get Splash Central and parks ready for summer. He also highlighted the upgrades to lighting at Memorial Ballpark and the Leadership Huron project to add a building for the kayaks at Ravine Lake.

Commissioner Drew Weinres began his time by thanking Mayor Harrington for his service as a commissioner and most recently as the mayor. He then thanked outgoing Police Chief Kevin Van Diepen for 36 years of service to the city while also  acknowledging incoming Police Chief Derek Layher. He also mentioned multiple other promotions within the department that will be active as of Sunday.

Weinreis noted the previous year’s numbers, stating that 1,199 calls went for service to the Huron Police Department and 221 calls were made for the Huron Fire Department in 2023 as well as 766 ambulance calls. He also noted that 422 building permits were issued by the city’s inspection department.

He also acknowledged the Leadership Huron members who were in the crowd, noting that 10 years ago he was part of that program and that future community leaders truly come through the program.

Bryan Smith was the final commissioner to give his annual report. He joked that the previous commissioners had “stolen” a lot of his material. He focused on the work of the finance department in the management of the city finances, including budgeting, and also in oversight of elections, such as the recent mayoral election. He noted that the overall budget that the office oversees is $56 million for this year, with tax revenues up roughly seven percent last year over the previous year.

Smith noted that Broadland Creek Golf Course is working to replace sprinkler heads, with roughly one-third of the 650 sprinklers replaced to this point. He noted that trees have been removed due to age and studies have been done to determine how to better grow grass on fairways that have struggled with bad patching.

Finally, Smith noted Huron Community Campus and its work since its inception. Smith highlighted the cohort of Master’s students that will graduate this year. He also mentioned the “Northern academy” atmosphere that is at work to potentially give area high school students to have dual credit opportunities with a college-like atmosphere.

Shelton then closed by reminding those in attendance of a number of upcoming events within the city.