Writer / Tom Shevlot – Lawrence Council District 5
The City of Lawrence experienced many changes in 2016. On January 1, we welcomed our new mayor, Steve Collier, who committed to the citizens of Lawrence that public safety and community improvement would be his highest priority. The City Council also saw change as it welcomed six new council members to serve our city of over 47,000 people.
The city and the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township entered into a strategic partnership that focuses on the success of the city. “Great City, Great Schools” is a marketing campaign that prominently displays the role local city government and education plays in making Lawrence a welcoming and thriving community.
Over the holiday season, Lawrence firefighters and community volunteers helped organize a food and toy drive, helping nearly 600 needy families within our community. The street department also added a new salt truck just in time for winter. The truck comes equipped with a four-camera video system and a wet system for spreading brine to battle freezing rains. The street department has also been busy with several paving projects. Our roads and streets are in desperate need of repair. It has been several years since any significant paving project has occurred in our city. Last fall, through the hard work of the department heads and city officials, the city was awarded more than $1 million, which will go toward road projects. Work began immediately and a major portion of Boy Scout Road was resurfaced with more projects planned in 2017.
The Lawrence Police Department celebrated the launch of its Police Explorer bike program. Explorer Scout Post #160 will undergo several hours of training to be able to use various tactics on the bikes, which will be deployed during parades, walks and events where advisors deem it safe and necessary to be. Twenty Police Explorers were sworn in at an official ceremony in December 2016. The Explorers program provides students interested in law enforcement the opportunity to see how a police force works. It focuses on teaching leadership and life skills necessary to succeed in the community.
The city is also looking to build a stand-alone police station. The police station is currently housed in the city government building, but the city’s growth and the needs of the department make it necessary to find a new location to meet the growing and changing needs of the city.
Finally, one of the most important tasks a mayor and council have is drafting and approving the city’s operating budget. I was honored to sponsor the proposed 2017 budget, which not only balanced, but also put in place funding to restore our emergency fund, which was depleted at the end of 2015.