Editor’s note: During each year’s Village Council reorganization meeting, Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield gives a State of the Village speech. The complete text of this year’s address follows:
It’s 2016, and Sunbury will celebrate its bicentennial this year. I remember the United States Bicentennial like it was yesterday. But the older I get, the more I appreciate the history, the traditions and the uniqueness of Sunbury. We are blessed to live in a great community. We have something special in Sunbury, something to be proud of. Our slogan says: “Small Town, Big Ideas, Perfect Balance,” and Sunbury is just that.
Sunbury still feels like a small town. We have a sense of community, belongingness and pride – all values that are instilled in our residents. Sunbury is a village that takes care of its people. I probably never realized or understood the importance or magnitude of that quality until 2015. As many of you know, my daughter, Sidney, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a Stage 4 inoperable brain tumor.
This rocked my family to the foundation. But Sunbury, this community, came out in support like I couldn’t ever have imagined. It’s like when I was not a parent and I wanted to give people advice on how to raise their kids. Unless you’re a parent, you really don’t understand the dynamics of being a parent. This was a similar experience for me. While I would like to think I knew it, it wasn’t until 2015 that I would understand the depth of caring and compassion that exists in our community.
I truly realize our community is something special, something that you can only feel or receive in a great small town like Sunbury. Small town has a new meaning to me, and I couldn’t be more proud of our small town. I now realize more than ever why people want to come here and be part of our community.
“Small Town, Big Ideas” — there is no shortage of big ideas in Sunbury. Sunbury continues to be presented with challenges and opportunities. While some would see the growth in Sunbury as a problem, we see it as an opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong. My first choice would be to stay where we are today, but that’s not realistic. For Sunbury to continue to be healthy and thriving, we have to have responsible growth. Our big ideas must include smart planned growth — growth that does not cause problems for existing community members, local schools, and police and fire services.
Our growth has to come with a plan to help pay for the infrastructure that’s needed to support that growth. Sunbury believes we can partner with our school district to look for alternative funding that helps support that growth. Sunbury is working very hard to make sure that all new development helps fund our Big Walnut schools.
Sunbury believes we can work with the state and the county to plan for our roads, sewer, and police and fire services; and work to improve our resources without duplication and overlap, making services more affordable.
“Perfect Balance” is where the real challenge is. How do we grow and still maintain all that we love? We believe we can do that by celebrating what is so special and not forgetting where we have come from. It comes from understanding what makes Sunbury great – the sense of community, our schools, the people, civic organizations, churches, businesses, affordability and our heritage, especially Sunbury’s unique Village Square.
Balancing the old and the new means we have to always be planning. We have to integrate how we protect the old and still attract the new. There is nothing magic that will make this happen. It requires hard work, careful planning and a willingness to look at new ideas.
2015 was also a year of change administratively. As a village administration, we continued build our team. Starting at the end of 2014, Sunbury added a new leader at the street department, Brad Gerwig. Brad has reorganized his department and made many changes that have been significant for Sunbury. Under his leadership, the village looks better every year.
In the police department, we have seen a significant changes with two new sergeants, Sgt. Alexander and Sgt. Howard, and several new officers. The police department continues to provide excellent service to our residents.
Dale Wampler recently accepted a new position as head of the wastewater department. We are excited about the commitment and enthusiasm Dale brings to the position.
Rhonda Mourne accepted the position as zoning clerk and zoning enforcement officer at the beginning of last year. Rhonda has worked with CT Consultants to streamline many of the processes in the village zoning department.
Rounding out the team this year is the new Sunbury village administrator, Allen Rothermel. Allen brings a very diverse and experienced resume to the village, and has jumped in and already made a positive impact.
I could not be more excited about the team we have in place. Just like Sunbury, our team has the perfect balance of old, new and experienced. This team is positioned to take Sunbury into the next phase of our growth. They have big ideas, but are grounded in being part of our community, and that’s a perfect balance.
2016 is going to be an exciting year for Sunbury — a year of bicentennial celebrations, a year of “Small Town, Big Ideas, Perfect Balance.”
Information for this story was provided by the village of Sunbury.