Mills delivers state of the city

| February 15, 2022

Mark Mills

2021 the year of variants, health care crisis, inflation, worker shortages, supply chain issues, vaccinations, at least not all meetings are on zoom, we are in the hybrid model now. That two week “flatten the curve” sure lasted longer than we all expected.

President Hilgenberg, council members, elected officials, coworkers, and my fellow citizens.

I would like to thank all the great men and women that surround me on a daily basis, especially Max Crown and Jeff Corder who successfully filled many roles while Cherry Wilson battled, and eventually succumbed to cancer in mid-January. I would also like to thank Sherry Kirkpatrick and the auditor’s office, and Jackie Cushman in the tax office for the extra help during these previous tough months at city hall. We also suffered another loss in 2021 in early September, Public Works Supervisor Kody Darr lost his battle with cancer at the age of 46, and left big boots to fill in that department. While the passing of these two will always leave a hole in my heart, I know they are both looking down on me and smiling. Cherry is telling me not to say something crazy, but I know Kody is encouraging it! I would also like to thank all of our department heads that are asked to perform miracles, with a limited staff and limited budget, and to every single employee that dedicates their lives to this great community.

A special thank you goes out to my biggest critics the majority of the time, Mom and Dad. Ginger for keeping me, and our home in order, and of course my two teenagers Dom and Trip who are both driving now, they show me being Mayor isn’t really as complicated as raising two hungry teenage boys.

While there were issues nationally and internationally that caught people’s attention, locally we continued to persevere through the continued pandemic. I have always said, both positive and negative things have happened here, and we have always been in this together. 2021 was the completion of two major projects, the Three Rivers Veterans Memorial Bridge, and the West Lafyette waterline extension. The bridge looks amazing with the flowers provided and maintained by Coshocton In Bloom. The waterline extension is just the springboard for the City of Coshocton to become a regional water supplier for the majority of the county one day.

MFM is nearing completion of an eight-million-dollar investment and is adding 20 jobs within our city. Standard Power is remediating the former Rock Tenn site and developing a data mining and crypto currency site, that should expand in the coming months. All other manufacturing plants in the city and county remain strong and are always looking for the right people to fill their numerous job openings.

Momentum is really picking up downtown with the Port Authorities announcement of acquiring the Pastime Theater, for the future Coshocton Collaborative. Our Town Coshocton recently acquired the Selby Building (Old Newberry Building) and will soon turn 60,000 square feet into something special, with the help of a private partnership. I would also like to thank everyone who is making investments downtown to bring it back to life! From Airbnbs to new storefronts, to office space, to living quarters, to new small businesses, restaurants, even a doctor’s office!

The county’s announcements this year will definitely change the landscape of our city in the coming year. A new jail will break ground at the end of North Third Street and a new EMS and Coordinated Transportation building at Seventh and Walnut streets. I would like to thank the voters as well for supporting not only the jail levy, but also the library, career center, and the EMS levy this year.

The city continued on my mission of technology this year even with supply chain issues, our downtown Wi-Fi project is nearing completion, our parks are nearing completion of video surveillance and Wi-Fi, and you can now pay your utility bill online, with a credit or debit card.

A couple national chains came to town this year, Ollies Bargain Outlet and Dunkin’ located to Second Street. While we are still awaiting the opening of our brand-new Wendy’s at the other end of Second Street. Small business openings from coffee shops, to home décor stores to restaurants that opened were plentiful this year, I feel like I have scissor elbow. I always tell people, now is always the right time to take a chance to start or open a business, if not you will talk yourself out of it! Coshocton also has a great network of knowledgeable people and information to help you along the way.

Our parks received some upgrades this year. We installed glass backboards at Himebaugh and Hall parks along with video surveillance and Wi-Fi hotspots. Himebaugh Park basketball court and shelter got splashed with some color thanks to Art Mobb and numerous volunteers, and donations from residents, and local businesses. New pickleball courts were built at City Rec Park, along with dugout roofs and concession stand/ restroom roof replacement at City Rec fields at Kids America.

We successfully negotiated three-year contracts with both AFSCME and the OAPFF, along with a new contract with Sheriff Crawford for the city’s police protection. I would like to thank all negotiating teams for their professionalism shown during our meetings. We also worked through the civil service process of hiring a new fire chief after Chief Layton’s retirement. Rusty Dreher was the successful candidate who brings a strong sense of public service and safety to the position.

With the help of legislation from city council, we combined The Board of Zoning Appeals, with the Planning Commission, to offer ease of development within our community. I also negotiated with Mid-East Building Department to hold office hours on Wednesdays in city hall, for a user-friendly experience that allows for commercial builders to save time and have access to a building inspector locally.

An issue that was older than me was put to bed. The city after many failed attempts was able to purchase Fairy Falls Drive. We plan to upgrade drainage and resurface as soon as funding allows. Who knows maybe I can work some magic on the Carnegie Library, also an issue older than your mayor?

Last but certainly not least, I would like to thank all of the organizations the city works with on a regular basis to improve the quality of life for not only our city residents, but for everyone in our region. Thanks to the citizens that pull together to paint fire hydrants, pick up litter, donate clothing, donate food and do whatever it takes to give a hand up, to not only some residents, but to our entire community.

Exciting times are ahead especially with Intel’s $20 billon investment that was recently announced, just under an hour away. We will position ourselves for growth starting with a push for the completion of the four lane, to residential growth, to commercial and industrial growth in a strategic and responsible manner. The tide is turning back to the good old days, and I am proud to play a role in this positive direction of progress.

I am humbled to be in this position and proud to represent the people of my hometown with honesty and integrity. I am always ready to listen and respond to issues and welcome citizens to become involved in the decisions and processes we put in place. Please visit our website at, call us, or stop in City Hall, we are here to serve you.

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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