Focus on improvement

    At his annual State of the City address given Monday at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Mayor John Schultz focused on the steps being taken to continue to improve the city of Decatur and encourage economic growth.
    Schultz announced that Prime Inc. has begun operations at the Industrial Park III location located just north of Walmart, and said he is confident this will encourage more businesses to move into the area within the next few years.
    Schultz stated that there have been several small repairs made to to the sewer system in some areas of town, including the area around the Townsend Tire location at US 224 and Monroe St., as well as some homes in the High St. area.
    The city water department is looking into expanding water lines on East Monroe St. to accommodate new residents moving into the area, Schultz said, adding that the water department has replaced six fire hydrants and made numerous repairs to others throughout the city.
    The mayor commended Parks and Recreation Superintendent Steve Krull for his continued work with Moms of Pre-schoolers (MOPS), who raised $50,000 for new park equipment, in helping organize volunteers to instal the equipment.
    In other news, Schultz reported that 230 trees were planted in 2011, while 311 ash trees had to be removed due to the work of the Emerald Ash Borer. "We're not quite there yet, but we're making progress," Shultz said.
    Schultz stated that, overall, crime is down in the city, with police responding to 13,000 calls in 2011. He also welcomed the addition of new officers Corey Hamm and Casey Springer, and commended North Adams resource officer Kriss Affolder.
    He said the Decatur Fire Department responded to 265 fires in 2011, resulting in an estimated $823,000 in damages, and the tragic loss of two lives.
    Schultz also took a moment to recognize the loss of Decatur police dispatcher Dean Ingmire, who perished in a fire on January 3. The mayor expressed his condolences to the Ingmire family, stating, "This has been a tremendous loss to our community."
    The city's chief executive also announced that steps are being taken to "clean up" Decatur, beginning with the old sweeper shop located at the corner of Second St. and Monroe streets. The city has acquired the property and is proposing a demolition to take place sometime in the near future.
    Renovations are under way at the old train depot, including repairs to the brick work and roof; however, Schultz noted that at some point work to the electrical system and flooring will need to be addressed as well.
    He further explained that the city has been cracking down on residential areas as well, noting that cars that are inoperable or have no license plates are being towed from residential properties, as are trailers or pieces of vehicles. "This is all designed to make Decatur a cleaner, happier place to live," said Schultz
    The mayor concluded his speech by saying he intends to do the very best for the city and citizens of Decatur, and he is looking forward to a bright future for our community.