Mills delivers state of the city

| January 26, 2021

Mark Mills

Wow! 2020 what a year, from the pandemic, to protests, to political uncertainty and terms like “we are in this together,” “new normal,” “unprecedented” and my personal favorite, “you’re on mute.”

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

I would like to start by thanking my inner circle that surrounds me, Max Crown, Cherry Wilson, Jeff Corder, the department heads and every single employee that makes the city function on a daily basis, the ones that truly make things happen.

Thank you to all the organizations that work together for the cause of progress. I would like to give special mention to a few, Coshocton County Government, Coshocton Port Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, Roscoe Village, Our Town Coshocton and so many more that do so much for the good of our community.

A special thank you to my Mom, Dad, my sons Dominique and Trip and to my beautiful Ginger, I couldn’t do what I do without the support from each of you.

I want to acknowledge the amazing job the Coshocton Emergency Management; Rob McMasters, Coshocton County Health Department, Steve Lonsinger; Coshocton City Health Department, Katherine Clark and all the boots on the ground that are tasked with informing, educating and keeping up to date with the protocols, statistics and most recently getting the vaccinations out to everyone.

Nothing would be possible without all the people and organizations mentioned above, also the people who live a normal life, get along with their neighbors, keep their properties maintained, and obey laws, and give a little extra time to help advance our great city. I am just a small piece of the over-all progress, piece of the puzzle.

Here in Coshocton, our hometown, with everything going on in our country, I feel as though we worked well together to overcome the adversity, what we were all watching on social media and the news outlets. We are a community that has lost out before but always find a way to come together and rise above any adversities thrown at us. For us, we have always been “in this together” when a manufacturer left it became our “new normal.” From the time our city was incorporated in 1811 many “unprecedented” things have happened to us, both good and bad, but together we have always continued to move forward.

There are many highlights and major accomplishments this year. I will start with the projects that have been in the works for several years, yes government projects often move slowly with many restrictions on the processes that must be done. The State Route 541 Bridge one of the lengthy projects but turned out so nice, the cherry on top will be a giant Annin flag made right here in Coshocton, placed on a McWane pole also made right here. Our new ladder truck for the city fire department that was built after being ordered and then had to be customized at a different location. Our much-needed new street sweeper, both vehicles were over 30 years old.

Most importantly the West Lafayette Water Project. This truly leads the way for us to become a regional water supplier. I was personally involved in securing an additional 1.5 million dollars of funding for this project through the State of Ohio EPA H2O funding and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineering funding.

With Cares Act monies we were able to partner with Coshocton City Schools, in 2021 to provide Wi-Fi at Himebaugh Park, Hall Park and Bancroft Park giving our citizens access to free Wi-Fi that many could no longer afford and for our students that needed it for remote learning. Many city buildings were upgraded with air filtrations systems, City Hall received a new HVAC system with air purification, Plexi glass was installed in most offices for the safety of employees and guests. We were able to purchase a new leaf machine that can be operated by one person instead of the six employees the old machine required for leaf collection. An enormous wireless internet project on Main Street, running from Second Street to Seventh Street will be a game changer for downtown business and resident access to the Internet, all being contracted through Synched Wireless, a local technology company, this project will be completed in 2021.

We were able to give grants to our city school district to purchase shields for student desk’s and to Kids America to help with their air filtration, HVAC and cleaning supplies.

One of the largest and most generous donations made locally during the pandemic was from Wiley Companies when they made 10,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and distributed them throughout our community. This was during a time when money could not buy hand sanitizer, it seemed the world had sold out. Wiley’s saw a need in our community and quickly went to work to provide a much-needed commodity to help battle Covid-19 for people designated as essential employees.

At this point I would like to highlight some of the positives we experienced in 2020. Banners were put up on the court square to recognize our Class of 2020 seniors who did not get to participate in a typical graduation ceremony, prom, homecoming and so many other events they should have gotten to celebrate during their senior year. I want to thank the Coshocton Foundation for their generous donation that made this happen. The Opportunity School had a coat drive, they placed coats on trees downtown for the less fortunate to pick up. Christmas Magic in Lights raised $9,000 in one night at the fairgrounds for the Firefighters Toy Fund. The Salvation Army raised over $50,000 for the Christmas Castle Project this year. All these efforts show how giving our community is.

Kids America hosted baseball/softball tournaments this summer that attracted teams from all over the State of Ohio. These events bring dollars to our community that are spent at our local businesses.

I was involved with many new small business openings in Coshocton in 2020. Many small businesses are as good as any big business opening. We will do all that we can to attract small, medium and large businesses to our community.  Just recently with the partnership of the port authority and school districts, we as community partners retained 69 jobs at MFM Building Products, which has led to creating and $8 million dollar expansion including 21 new full-time positions.

We have contracted with Muni Reg a company that works with property owners of vacant or abandoned buildings to get them registered and to make a plan to restore or demolish blighted properties. We will continue to clean up Coshocton one property at a time whether it is dilapidated structures or junked up yards and would like to thank community residents for contacting us when they see something that has been overlooked.

We have created the Historic Preservation Commission to work with property owners to get funding to restore and make progress in attracting businesses to our downtown area.

Within our building at City Hall, we have the new Director of Our Town Coshocton, Lanny Spaulding. Beginning in February we will have Mid-East Ohio Building Department at least one day a week to create convenience for contractors wanting to build or improve local property.

The city and county have created a Coshocton County Land Reutilization Corporation also known as a land bank. The land bank has representation from my office as well as county offices, and the port authority. This will allow us to take ownership of foreclosed properties and land, and cut through the red tape to resell and return property to the open market, without bureaucracy.

The UTV Ordinance was passed this year making UTV’s legal on city streets. We currently have over 50 registered with no complaints or issues.

Discussion was started on creating a city police department. As of now we are working with the Sheriff’s Office and the new administration to figure out how to improve policing in our community. As mayor I will always push for the best use of taxpayer dollars and hold every contract holder accountable to do their best work.

Downtown is heading in the right direction and we appreciate the buy in, not only the improvement in existing buildings, but also people going out on a limb starting a business during these tumultuous times.

I invite our entire county to check out the 3 for 3 initiative, where as a community we tackle three important issues over three years. Creating a culture of entrepreneurship, improve property maintenance and revitalization, and create world class technology and infrastructure. The power is in the people, the more people who become involved, the lighter the work and the more understanding people become educated of the hurdles that we face, either in the public sector or the private sector. I am very excited in what has happened so far with this initiative and cannot wait to see where it takes us.

My first year was very exciting, representing my hometown through a pandemic wasn’t easy at times. In life you are faced with uncertainty and situations that are out of your control. I am a true believer in, its not what happens to you, it is how you react to the situation that truly matters. The pandemic created relationships and partnerships that probably would have never happened without this sickness and loss of life among us. I am proud to call Coshocton home.

I am very excited about ending 2020 in the black and income tax revenues up around 2% over 2019.  Ollies and Dunkin Donuts coming to Second Street. Also, the momentum on Main Street. The housing market is on fire! So much to celebrate.

I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone about the city’s website at Our website is topnotch compared to other communities that surround us. We have worked diligently to provide pertinent information on our site. All council members can be contacted via our website, there is also the ability to see who your council person is, each member has a picture and a map showing the area of their ward. The minutes from each council meeting are uploaded to the website. Myself, and each department head can also be contacted via the website.

City Council meetings are being live streamed via YouTube on the Coshocton City Hall Channel. I invite the public to not only watch council meetings, held the second and fourth Monday of each month, but become involved in your local government. Ask questions and share ideas. If you would like to address council while the meetings are being held via ZOOM send your questions or concerns to [email protected]. These will be read to council during the public input portion of the meeting. You don’t even have to leave your couch to become involved!

In closing I want everyone to know this will never be about me, it will always be about we. We can waste our time and energy on complaining, or we can spend it productively talking and achieving things we would like to see in our city together. It all starts with you. Thank you for the opportunity to make a difference in our hometown, I invite you to also make a difference. God bless our city; God bless our country and each one of us.

Much Love, Mayor Mark Mills

#choose Coshocton

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Category: Government

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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