Moving Wilmington forward


Paul Hunter - Guest columnist



Editor’s Note: This column was read as an open letter to Wilmington residents at the April 20 city council meeting.

For over 25 years I have participated in and observed many versions of our city’s government.

In my considered opinion the present team is the best of the bunch. The people who are making change happen are too modest to toot their own horn, so I will do it for them.

Starting with Chief Duane Weyand, a true professional and certainly the best we have ever had.

I have little operational knowledge of Fire, EMS and Treasury operations, and so will not speak to them

A standout on this team has been Lori Williams and she is darned near irreplaceable.

In Brian Shidaker we have a mission-centered public service director dedicated to serving the public needs. In his short time in the position he has been the driver in updating the street repair schedule among other accomplishments.

1. By this summer South South Street will will be driveable again.

2. The new road access for one of our major employers, Ahresty, is also to his credit.

3. Personnel changes have created a more mission-centered supervisory staff in the service departments.

4. The previously mismanaged and delayed sidewalk and bridge connection from Southridge-Highland to Holmes school has been put back on track by Brian with the Mayor’s help.

5. After years of empty rhetoric, actual cooperation with the county is gaining ground. The county commissioners and the city are investigating ways to lower landfill tipping fees.

6. Curbside recycling will be augmented by adding a revamped cardboard component.

7. Positive action to eliminate wasting treated water due to over-flushing.

8. There was an early stumble on zoning enforcement, but that is now up to speed.

Marian Miller, council clerk and assistant to the Mayor, is the key to the day-to-day operations of the city and the functioning of the city council. From job interviews to answering questions from the public, some would say that she is the most important person in city government and I agree. Marian typifies the better way of governance. No secrets and no hoarding of information.

The organizing principals and staff selection of the Mayor has set the city on a course for success. He had the humility to realize that a new, younger less politically encumbered group of council people are in place and that he would work with them to meet goals he had set. If he drifts off course Marian is there to provide a nudge.

A better way City Council has provided leadership in all areas of government. Rather than set back and rubber stamp handed down legislation, as was past practice, this group has proposed solutions to long avoided problems.

1. Along with the Mayor the 2017 budget was the smoothest operation for many years and required no special meetings to pass the legislation.

2. Did not invoke the emergency clause to limit public and council input on important issues.

2. After open debate and with the help of a proactive civilian committee, council faced up to the need for new revenue if the city was going to survive as community (see streets). The voters responded yes.

3. After several years of misapplication of the so-called bed tax revenue, council held several public hearings, weighed the facts, then voted to divert a portion of the revenue to deserving entities without affecting the visitors bureau’s mission.

4. Council tackled the very contentious issue of water fluoridation by first placing a non-binding resolution on the fall ballot. The voters supported the concept by good margin. Public hearings were held, and thanks to Council President Randy Riley, near unending public comments were allowed during council meetings. After taking in information from all sides of the issue council decided that the preponderance of evidence indicated that the greater good would be served by adding fluoride to our drinking water.

Quite a year-and-a-half for a “better way”council and administration.

Paul Hunter is a resident of Wilmington. On Feb. 2 the mayor and council proclaimed it Paul Hunter Day for his longtime dedication and service to the community.

Paul Hunter

Guest columnist