STATE of the CITY
Looking back 2021
Looking forward 2022
by Danny Wade
Each year during January, it is customary for the Humboldt mayor to offer a state of the city summation. Last week, Mayor Marvin Sikes talked about 2021 and also spoke about what is coming down the pike in 2022.
“2021 was another year of Covid,” Mayor Sikes said. “But it was better than the year before in 2020. Having the Strawberry Festival back (in 2021) was awesome.”
Perhaps the biggest news in 2021 was the opening of Tyson Foods processing plant in the Gibson County Industrial Park located on the northern end of Humboldt. For over three years, Humboldt had awaited the opening (April 8, 2021) since that first announcement in November of 2017.
Sikes said more big news for GCIP came in 2021 with the announcement that FedEx plans to build a 330,000 sq.ft. distribution center. Site planning began shortly afterwards and dirt was being moved.
In March, Humboldt City Board voted to rezone property inside the Gibson County Industrial Park from industrial to general business. This property is directly behind Wendy’s and butts up to Bradford Acres subdivision. Mayor Sikes, along with Cha
mber Director Amanda Love, have had lots of interest from businesses wanting to locate in that area.
“Two banks announced plans to build in Humboldt,” Sikes said. “Security Bank & Trust and Centennial Bank wanted to make Humboldt their home and we welcomed them.”
Security Bank construction is completed and should be opening very soon. Centennial Bank broke ground in December. Mayor Sikes said there should be construction work beginning soon for Centennial Bank, which plans to open this summer. Their location on N. Central Ave. was part of the rezoned property in the industrial park.
Housing in Humboldt has been on the uptick as well. Hunters Ridge subdivision is nearing completion with just a few houses to be completely full. Mayor Sikes spoke about another residential development that got underway in 2021, the Tennessee Baptist Adult Homes. This will be a development complex of duplexes for retired Southern Baptist ministers and will be located near the intersection of Hwy. 45 Bypass and Bledsoe Rd.
Sikes made note of new retail businesses now calling Humboldt their home. In downtown there is Kandy Bank, Jokema’s, Hive Beauty Collective and a new Mexican bakery, Estrella.
A new medical clinic opened its doors toward the end of the year, Southern Health and Wellness Clinic, located on Chere Carol next to Humboldt Medical Center. A new nutrition shop opened up as well.
In 2021, the city board approved purchasing new vehicles for the police department and public works. With the shortage of computer chips made in China, the auto industry hit a standstill. Sikes expects those new vehicles to be delivered soon.
Mayor Sikes spoke briefly about the November election where he was re-elected to a third term. There are three new aldermen on the board, Tammie Porter, Julie Jones-Coleman and Shane Lynch.
Sikes said he is proud to have a balanced budget for the past eight years with no new taxes and no new debt.
Sadly, Humboldt lost an alderman in 2021 when Don Graves passed away due to Covid. This is the second time in the past two years a sitting alderman passed. Donna Johnson passed away in 2020.
Now that 2022 is underway, what is coming down the road for the Strawberry City?
Work has begun on the new Arby’s restaurant to build near Walmart. Sikes said Humboldt Arby’s will be a 40-seat restaurant and should be open by late spring or early summer.
“We’ve applied for CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding for $420,000 that will go toward purchasing a fire truck. Sikes said he would like to add at least $200,000 to go toward the purchase. This would take city board approval, he noted.
Humboldt was approved to receive $2.3 million in stimulus funds from federal government. Of that, the city has already received $1.2 million. Sikes said two of the first projects would be paving and drainage.
Mayor Sikes said paving projects should begin this spring. In 2020, the city paved two miles of city streets. This spring, Sikes plans to pave another two miles and possibly another two miles come fall, depending on several factors.
“We’re still getting industrial prospects,” Sikes said in spite of Tyson and FedEx locating in Humboldt. “The American Woodmark building is getting a lot of interest and being shown. And others too.”
Speaking of FedEx, construction is continuing on the new distribution facility that will have 200 truck bays, with expectations of 125 positions in the building and another 200 truck drivers.
Humboldt Parks & Recreation will get a boost this year thanks to a parks grant the city applied for and was approved a couple of years ago. Upgrades to four city parks will begin this year. New playground equipment will be installed at Bailey Park. Viking Park restrooms will be renovated. Spangle Park and 6th Street Park will also see upgrades coming in 2022.
Much needed updates at the Humboldt Municipal Airport are in the works for 2022. The hangar closest to the airport office will get a new paint job and new windows thanks to $20,000 from Tennessee Aeronautics funding. Sikes said he would love to have a giant strawberry painted on the hangar’s roof for pilots flying over Humboldt to see. He believes he can make that happen.
Not only will the airport get some updates, so will the Humboldt Senior Citizens Center. Sikes said the outside will get a fresh coat of paint.
Unfortunately for Humboldt, 2021 did not end on a good note with the tragic shooting during a basketball game inside the gymnasium. With the heartbreaking incident, Sikes said he experienced wonderful amounts of love for Humboldt from not only people from Humboldt, but from people outside the city.
Looking forward, Mayor Sikes firmly believes the rezoned commercial property behind Wendy’s will see some action in the near future. He, Director Love and Gibson County Economic Development Director Kingsley Brock are getting a lot of interest about this property. Sikes speculates there will be a hotel, grocery store, restaurants, retail and possibly a truck center locating on or near this site. It might be this year, next year or a few years down the road but he definitely thinks this area will look totally different in the next eight to 10 years.
“I truly love Humboldt,” Sikes said. “This is my home. I love my town, I love the people. We have so much good going on in our town and there’s more to come.”