Let me begin my comments with praise and admiration for all of our graduating seniors in the Columbus area.
Whether you attended CPS, Scotus, Lakeview or any number of the schools in our neighboring towns, you have reached a milestone in your young life. I wish you the best as you move on to the next chapter in your life and can only hope that for many of you the next chapter will be here in our community. Whether it be furthering your education at Central Community College or beginning your career with one of our many fine employers, Columbus is working hard to make this the type of community that attracts you and keeps you here.
“Something Good Columbus” is real and we are striving to make it great. With young people like our recent graduates staying and becoming taxpayers, things can only get better. Again, congratulations graduates.
A few weeks ago a Columbus delegation made a visit to Washington, D.C. The delegation included myself, some city staff, county representation and Loup Public Power representation. This has become a regular trip for the city and over the years we can point to specific successes that we have received from these efforts. Our goal is simply to get to talk with our elected officials and let them know what is going on in Columbus and what help we could use to accomplish our needs. We have found that by delivering our needs one-on-one we get their attention and many times are able to get some results.
It might be moving a project along that has gotten stuck in red tape. It might be helping with an alternative method of financing when the conventional methods have dried up. It might be getting sent in another direction for different help. Over the years, the city can look back on these trips and know they have helped with our Lost Creek drainage project, Lost Creek Parkway, the Highway 30 four-lane and our viaducts, just to name a few. The trip to D.C. is worthwhile, but after spending just a couple of days there it really makes you appreciate “Something Good Columbus."
Many have asked where we stand with the public safety building. This project is full-speed ahead. We have told the consultant, Prochaska & Associates, to get things up to speed and be ready to make recommendations on specific sizes and then to help us narrow down location possibilities. I plan on seeing much discussion on this project as the summer evolves. Along with this, the hiring of our new fire chief is moving along well. We received many applications and from those there were a number who met the qualifications that we felt were needed. Those who met these qualifications will be offered to test and from the testing results we will narrow down our candidates to five or six. They will then be asked to interview. We hope to have this position filled by the end of summer.
Finally, as most of you know by now, I have accepted the retirement of our chief of police. Chief William Gumm has served the city extremely well for the past 23 years. I would be kidding myself if I said I didn’t know this was coming, but I was hoping for a little more time.
Chief Gumm has been a pillar of our community, not only building and maintaining a dedicated police force, but he has been active with our youth and citizens. I have told people many times, "You don’t read about our police chief in the newspaper or see him on the news." And that’s a good thing.
Chief will remain in Columbus for the foreseeable future and will be available to help with the transition of a new chief. That selection process has begun with the posting for that position.