Breakfast with the Mayor a hit
by Danny Wade
The second annual Breakfast with the Mayor was another success last Thursday morning. Sponsored by the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce, close to 100 people attended.
Mayor Marvin Sikes made a 30-minute presentation highlighting 2016 and what he expects this year for Humboldt.
The breakfast was held in the Humboldt Medical Center conference room. Chamber director Lee Williams welcomed the crowd. Rob DeLoach offered the invocation prior to opening up the buffet line. The buffet included fresh fruit, biscuits and gravy, cheesy hashbrowns, scrambled eggs and bacon.
As people were finishing up breakfast, Williams introduced Mayor Sikes. He said Sikes is Humboldt’s 34th mayor. Williams noted Sikes popularity by receiving 70-percent of the vote during the 2013 run-off election.
“I love my city and I’m proud to be your mayor,” Sikes said in his opening comments. “This means so much to me and to my family.”
“The city’s not going anywhere—it’s been here 150 years and will be here 150 years from now,” Sikes continued.
Sikes called Humboldt a team. He recognized several people in the audience including aldermen Donna Johnson, Don Graves and Leon McNeal, Fire Chief Chester Owens, Police Chief Rob Ellis, City Works’ Willie Reid, Parks & Rec’s Jeff Graves, city of Humboldt staff Valerie Hayes, Cindy Knott and Marquita Patterson, Municipal Airport’s Benny Miller, Library director Diane Wright, Senior Center director Archie Cox, city inspector John Morrison and code enforcer Jeanna Schellenberger.
“This is not me, it’s we”, Sikes said of his qualified staffs and department heads.
Sikes noted the great working relationship between the city, the schools, the chamber and the utility department.
“It’s been a good year,” Sikes said of 2016. “Our (property) tax rate is $3.04, the same it’s been. We have a budget and we keep within that budget.”
Mayor Sikes said the $1.2 million airport project was complete and more updates are in the works. He would like to see more people using Humboldt’s airport.
The city has cleaned up and torn down old buildings the city owned but that has slowed. He’s talking with property owners attempting to get them to clean up their buildings and lots.
The upstairs loft at Fire Station #1 on Main Street has been remodeled to include bedrooms and a den area for the firemen’s home away from home.
Restrooms at the library were updated and are now ADA compliant.
“We’ve seen an upswing in business licenses,” Sikes told the crowd. “We issued 45 new licenses in 2016. There are seven or eight new businesses on East End Drive and new ones on Main Street.”
Sikes said Humboldt had around $160 million in retail sales last year, half of that coming from Walmart.
“People wanting to come to Humboldt and open a business—if you give good service and have a good product, you can have a piece of that,” Sikes said of a good retail climate.
Sikes said he was proud to get the lawsuit with Three Way settled after 14 years. He welcomed Three Way’s residents back to shop and eat in Humboldt.
Even though it’s not a Humboldt project per say, the Gibson County Industrial Park is right at the city’s doorstep. Sikes said there has already been one prospect already this year. He believes it’s a matter of time before an industry selects the site. Sikes called Gibson County Industrial Park the best site between here and Memphis, including the Memphis Area Mega Site, which is 4,000 acres. Sikes thinks that site is too large for what many companies are looking for.
The mayor said Phase II of downtown renovation project is underway, on N. 14th Ave. from Main Street to Osborne St. Sikes hopes to begin the process for Phase III later this year that will include S. 14th Ave.
A state grant will fund improvements at the Main St. and Chere Carol intersection. Sikes noted there have been accidents there and believes this work is needed.
Looking into 2017, Sikes has a bucket list of things to do.
Sikes hopes to purchase new police cars and new equipment for the fire department as well.
He has plans to remove several abandoned signs and signposts along East End Drive and 22nd Ave. that are cluttering up properties. The city did a similar project along Central Ave. last year, which looks much better, Sikes says.
“I work hard for you. I love my job,” Sikes told the crowd. “We much keep planting positive seeds.”