City, county officials set goals for 2014

As we cross over into a new year, local residents aren’t the only people making New Year’s goals. City and county officials are also busy prioritizing projects for the upcoming year.

Monticello Economic Development Commission Executive Director Nita McDaniel said she’s looking to spend time with community development in 2014.

“Community development ties into economic development,” McDaniel explained. “I’d like to see the Scogin Drive extension project get underway because that project is going to be important to economic development.”

Another goal is to have better signage for the community.

“We need to show people what we have,” McDaniel said. “If we advertise what we have, then those who come into our community will know what we have to offer.”

Drew County Judge Robert Akin also has a list of things he’d like to see done in 2014.

“First we have got to finish widening the right of ways,” Akin said. “We have things in the right of ways that need to be cleaned out.”

He said the Winchester sewer project remains on the top of his priorities.

“We are still trying to secure funding for this project, and we hope to make more headway in the new year,” Akin said.

He said Tillar will be getting a new mayor in the new year.

“Since we are working with the town of Tillar on this project, we are waiting until the new mayor takes office to continue the project,” Akin said.

The plan is to have Winchester’s sewer tap into the Tillar sewer located nearby.

Akin said the road department plans to do more chip and seal on the roads and more black top as well.

“We did a lot of leveling out this year in preparation for the blacktop,” Akin said. “Our roads are a priority.”

Trash is also an issue the judge wants to take on in 2014.

“We have some trashy areas in this county,” Akin said. “I’d like to get with the sheriff or the judge to get these areas cleaned up.”

However, he reiterated that it’s up to community members to keep the county clean.

“It’s not the county’s responsibly to pick up trash along the roadside,” Akin said. “The people who are throwing it out their windows need to decide what kind of community they want to live in.”

Akin said he’d like to see some sort of accountability for those caught littering.

Until then, he wants to work with different people to get the trash picked up from the roads.

“Don’t get me wrong, just because there’s someone to pick it up doesn’t mean it’s right to throw it out the window,” Akin said.

With the $10 million water and sewer system improvement project set to begin in January 2014, Monticello Mayor Allen Maxwell has made it clear that the city will begin a period of years where the city council must enter into a penny-pinching mentality when it comes to yearly operating budgets.

“The goal for 2014 is to reduce the city’s operating budget,” Maxwell said. “And, to save as much money as we can by not buying anything unless we absolutely need it to operate.”

However, Maxwell said during November’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting, that despite any cuts that may have to be made, the city will be hitting the ground running in 2014. He then unveiled his top four priorities for the new year, which are all aimed at continuing the efforts of improving the city’s infrastructure.

His first priority is to spearhead the renovation of the old fire station, which is an annexation of City Hall, into a usable space for the Monticello Police Department.

Priority number two was lined out as the removal of mold from the city buildings.

Maxwell’s third priority for the new year is the renovation of the bridge on Jackson Street.

“We need to get that bridge fixed,” he continued. “It is a hazard and one of these days it is going to fall down. A lot of people drive that street. I have been out there at that bridge and watched car after car crossing it. It is a real narrow bridge on a real narrow street. We need a new, bigger bridge to replace the old bridge.”

The final priority is the removal (or remedy) of the lead paint in the Burlington water tower.

The Advance-Monticellonian

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