MONTICELLO — Safe. Secure. Sound. Spirited.
Those four words sum up the city of Monticello, according to Mayor Cathy Gross, who delivered her first State of the City speech Tuesday.
As the featured guest of the Greater Monticello Chamber of Commerce’s monthly lunch gathering at the Sportsman Inn, Gross said she has been continually asked, during her first three weeks as mayor, what she thinks of how things are going in Monticello.
“I tell them the water is running, the toilets are flushing, the streets are clear and safe,” she said. “Everything seems to be going well. The parks are active — and I have absolutely nothing to do with that.”
She gave credit to those things that are running, flushing, clear and safe to the city’s employees.
“Our city employees are our best ambassadors and assets,” she said. “Without them, we would have nothing.”
Gross said the fire department in 2019 educated more than 1,100 students, received numerous grants from several agencies, responded to more than 2,700 runs — of which 2,000 involved medical emergencies and the remainder involving fire calls, extrication, lift assistance, alarms and animal rescues, to name a few.
Gross also mentioned the city’s receivership of more than $900,000 in Community Crossings grants last year for street preservation, as well as sidewalk replacement and new sidewalk construction.
Gross said the new water treatment plant is performing “extremely well,” processing more than 450 million gallons of water during 2019.
“That’s 1.25 million gallons per day, while exceeding the standard set forth by (Indiana Department of Environmental Management).”
Monticello police, she said, responded to more than 5,700 calls through 911 — which does not include walk-ins to the station, requests to assist other agencies or other calls.
The department also responded to about 200 vehicle accidents with more than $1,000 damage, took 403 incident reports, made 131 arrest warrants, and issued more than 300 traffic citations and warnings.
Gross said the city’s financial standing is “sound a secure.”
“Our city has a history of fiscally responsible stewardship and it continues today,” she said.
The parks department, Gross said, had more than 2,700 people participate in 67 programs throughout all of last year, and the 50-year-old city pool was used to teach 240 students how to swim.
Gross also announced the hiring of the city’s new ADA/Title VI coordinator, Katherine Tardiff, who began her duties about a week ago. Gross had the position for the past eight years until becoming mayor.
“I will learn to step away,” she said.
Gross said she will continue to work on the “successes, projects and programs” first started by former Mayor Ken Houston, as well as work with the city council to promote her Youth Leadership Council initiative, in partnership with Twin Lakes School Corporation, and “move toward a green-city initiative.”
Gross added that the city’s relationship with White County is “exemplary and enviable” across the state.
“I will work to sustain and nurture those community partnerships,” she said. “Our county is known as one of, if not the — leader in renewable energy. It is fitting that we here in Monticello support those efforts as we move toward a greener community.”
Gross said the long-talked about riverwalk project will begin this spring
“I am extremely excited and believe this will be transformative to our city,” she said.
And Gross mentioned the old downtown fire station/city hall building, which she hopes to see “real progress” in 2020.
“I live by, ‘If we build it, they will come’ — and what a great hub that could be for us,” she said. “These projects are key to my goals of making a more livable community where our young families return, and our parents and grandparents want to stay, where we provide the infrastructure and support needed for our young entrepreneurs, and provide environmentally sound recreation on our most valuable natural resource — our lakes and river.”
None of these initiatives would be possible, she said, without working with and for the city’s residents.
“As we begin this new decade, I am incredibly humbled by your trust,” Gross said. “I ask for your support and prayers as we keep Monticello moving forward.”