2021 has been a year of forward momentum following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a community, we have continued to successfully react and adapt to the ever-changing environment around us due to this virus. Our community has responded with determination through these past couple of years, and dedicated city employees have continued to maintain the exceptional services we all have grown to expect. As we look back at 2021, I think it’s important to celebrate some of our successes.
This past year, the City moved important community goals forward. Outfitting our dedicated police officers with body worn cameras has long been a goal and this past year it became a reality. Plans have been put into motion to utilize federal funds to address much-needed community projects such as paving over 30-lane miles of residential roads – something unheard of before in Bowling Green! In addition, the City redesigned the website to better communicate with the community and be more responsive to modern technology, and a food waste compost program was established to increase the City’s waste diversion efforts. The Parks and Recreation Department continued to enhance and build upon the City’s green spaces thanks to existing partnerships with organizations like the Black Swamp Conservancy. This took shape through a 20-acre addition to Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve, which extended the existing trail network. Additionally, Parks and Recreation has begun to restore a portion of Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve to native short grass prairie.
Regardless of the circumstances, the City continued to work tirelessly to provide municipal services. This dedication did not go unnoticed. As a public power community, the City was recognized by the American Public Power Association (APPA) as a Diamond Level Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) and a Smart Energy Provider, demonstrating a commitment to reliable and sustainable electric service. The Fire Division received recognition from the American Heart Association, being awarded the Lifeline EMS Gold Plus Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures to treat patients who suffer severe heart attacks. The City was also recognized as a Certified Local Government by the Historic Heritage & Historic Preservation – NPS, demonstrating a commitment to the importance of historic preservation. Bowling Green became a Purple Heart City, distinguishing the community’s commitment to recognizing the extraordinary sacrifice those who have received the Purple Heart Medal made for our country. I am optimistic about what 2022 will bring and am excited about the many opportunities around the corner.
This upcoming year, the City will continue to move important community goals forward. The zoning code will be comprehensively updated and modernized, which hasn’t occurred in over 50 years. I am excited at the prospect of exploring new and innovative economic development initiatives to attract commercial and industrial employers, exploring ways to attract amenities, housing development, and workforce development opportunities. Following community input, the City will finalize the planned use of the rest of the American Rescue Act funds. The City will continue to build on existing partnerships and make new ones to maximize resources and establish a cohesive approach to community issues. Last but certainly not least, I am very excited to be working on a new City Building. Our community needs a modern facility to support and serve the public. City Hall should be a source of pride and fully accessible to our entire community.
2022 will undoubtedly have its challenges, but I am confident that we – as a community – will continue to overcome anything and everything we face. 2020 and 2021 reinforced that Bowling Green will persevere regardless of the circumstances. We will identify and maximize opportunities, we won’t shy away from difficult discussions, and we will maintain forward momentum to make tomorrow better than today.
I encourage you to do all you can to stay safe and healthy as we close out this year, and hope you’ll join me in looking forward to what 2022 will bring.