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Willmar, Minn., mayor says 2011 was strong year for city

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News Willmar,Minnesota 56201 http://www.wctrib.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/1/1130/20120207020612stateofcity02.jpg?itok=-HYHRzcf
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Willmar, Minn., mayor says 2011 was strong year for city
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- Mayor Frank Yanish says 2011 was a strong year and a year of many changes for Willmar.

One goal set by the City Council at last April's planning session and accomplished this year was the hiring of new City Administrator Charlene Stevens, Yanish told the council Monday in the annual State of the City message.

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Other goals were:

* Maintaining efficient and effective services and maintaining efficient investments in transportation, facilities and technology -- all with less revenue.

* Having strong public partnerships with Kandiyohi County and the Willmar School District and engaging the community as a whole.

* Making sure Willmar is a thriving, dynamic regional center: noting that it will be with the arrival of the University of Minnesota at the MinnWest Technology Campus; with release of the old airport land for industrial park development; and the revitalization of downtown.

The City Charter requires the mayor to present at the beginning of each calendar year "information as to the affairs of the city and recommend measures he considers necessary and desirable.''

This was Yanish's second such message since he was elected mayor in the November 2010 general election.

Yanish said this year's $12.7 million operating budget is down from 2011. Through attrition, he said, city staff has been reduced by five. The city continues to evaluate service delivery, and is looking for operating efficiencies and collaboration opportunities with other organizations.

Yanish said maintaining sound infrastructure is important. The new wastewater treatment plant will allow the city to meet future business and residential needs.

The city completed more than $3.2 million in road projects in 2011, and Yanish said he increased funding in the 2012 capital budget to begin catching up on street needs.

In December, the city signed a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration and has completed FAA-requested items for the first phase of the airport land release.

Yanish said building strong public relationships is important and said he was proud of the participation in the recent "understanding Somali culture'' presentation and even more proud of the 600 citizens who attended.

Finally, Yanish talked about Willmar as a thriving, dynamic regional center.

"In 2011, we saw new investment of $4 million in our community,'' he said. "Our local economy ranked 70th out of over 500 micropolitan centers (cities of 10,000 to 50,000 population) across the United States.''

Among the cities in Minnesota cited in that same research by the Office of Management and Budget, Willmar ranked behind only Faribault and Northfield, he said.

"When you look at Willmar as a retail trade center, we also rank very high against our counterparts in Greater Minnesota. Willmar ranks third, after Brainerd and Alexandria,'' Yanish said.

Willmar is also an employment center and regional center with many health-oriented businesses, including the city-owned Rice Hospital, which Yanish considers a "diamond in our midst.''

To keep Willmar a strong regional center, Yanish said he was proud to put some focus back on the downtown and is pleased with collaboration in working with downtown businesses and service providers and with the Design Center -- the nonprofit organization focused on revitalizing Willmar's downtown.

"We will see a new and refreshed city website, new plans for downtown and the land release of the former airport and much needed expansion of our industrial park,'' he said.

Yanish thanked the council and city staff for their hard work, dedication and willingness to move forward.

"It is my goal to have everyone working together, because working together, great things will happen,'' he said.

WILLMAR -- Mayor Frank Yanish says 2011 was a strong year and a year of many changes for Willmar.

One goal set by the City Council at last April's planning session and accomplished this year was the hiring of new City Administrator Charlene Stevens, Yanish told the council Monday in the annual State of the City message.

Other goals were:

- Maintaining efficient and effective services and maintaining efficient investments in transportation, facilities and technology -- all with less revenue.

- Having strong public partnerships with Kandiyohi County and the Willmar School District and engaging the community as a whole.

- Making sure Willmar is a thriving, dynamic regional center: noting that it will be with the arrival of the University of Minnesota at the MinnWest Technology Campus; with release of the old airport land for industrial park development; and the revitalization of downtown.

The City Charter requires the mayor to present at the beginning of each calendar year "information as to the affairs of the city and recommend measures he considers necessary and desirable.''

This was Yanish's second such message since he was elected mayor in the November 2010 general election.

Yanish said this year's $12.7 million operating budget is down from 2011. Through attrition, he said, city staff has been reduced by five. The city continues to evaluate service delivery, and is looking for operating efficiencies and collaboration opportunities with other organizations.

Yanish said maintaining sound infrastructure is important. The new wastewater treatment plant will allow the city to meet future business and residential needs.

The city completed more than $3.2 million in road projects in 2011, and Yanish said he increased funding in the 2012 capital budget to begin catching up on street needs.

In December, the city signed a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration and has completed FAA-requested items for the first phase of the airport land release.

Yanish said building strong public relationships is important and said he was proud of the participation in the recent "understanding Somali culture'' presentation and even more proud of the 600 citizens who attended.

Finally, Yanish talked about Willmar as a thriving, dynamic regional center.

"In 2011, we saw new investment of $4 million in our community,'' he said. "Our local economy ranked 70th out of over 500 micropolitan centers (cities of 10,000 to 50,000 population) across the United States.''

Among the cities in Minnesota cited in that same research by the Office of Management and Budget, Willmar ranked behind only Faribault and Northfield, he said.

"When you look at Willmar as a retail trade center, we also rank very high against our counterparts in Greater Minnesota. Willmar ranks third, after Brainerd and Alexandria,'' Yanish said.

Willmar is also an employment center and regional center with many health-oriented businesses, including the city-owned Rice Hospital, which Yanish considers a "diamond in our midst.''

To keep Willmar a strong regional center, Yanish said he was proud to put some focus back on the downtown and is pleased with collaboration in working with the Design Center, downtown businesses and service providers.

As he looks forward to 2012, Yanish said he was excited about opportunities ahead.

"We will see a new and refreshed city website, new plans for downtown and the land release of the former airport and much needed expansion of our industrial park,'' he said.

Yanish thanked the council and city staff for their hard work, dedication and willingness to move forward.

"It is my goal to have everyone working together, because working together, great things will happen,'' he said.

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David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150
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