About 100 attended Gardner’s annual state of the city address, delivered by Chris Morrow, mayor on March 8 at the New Century Fieldhouse. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
About 100 people were present to hear Chris Morrow, mayor, deliver Gardner’s 2017 State of the City address at New Century Fieldhouse on March 10. Doors opened at 11:30 a.m., lunch was served at noon.
Guests included patrons, city council members, and elected county and state officials.
Rick George, pastor of New Life Community church, gave the Invocation and Benediction. Steve Hines, chair of Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce, welcomed attendees with opening remarks and introduced Morrow.
Morrow said the city had many successes over the past year, and he then played a four minute video that summarized many of those. The video can now be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel.
Afterwards, Morrow said the video provided a glimpse of the work city employees do every day to keep the city running smoothly, safely and efficiently.

Area students sang the national anthem at Gardner’s annual state of the city address. Those singing, according to the program, are: Sophie Livella, Luke Scheck, Allie Mathos, and Logan Peralez. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

“Trust me, all this didn’t happen by accident,” said Morrow, and he then invited a round of applause for city staff.
Morrow recalled announcing Operation GROW, the governing body’s plan for attracting economic development, at last year’s address.
“Because of Operation GROW, we are now at a pivotal point in Gardner’s future. We’re at what I’m calling today, the harvest,” said Morrow.
Morrow used the analogy of a farmer choosing good seed to plant and the subsequent work and care necessary to bring about a productive harvest.
Morrow mentioned the 300 acres on the East side that will be developed for mixed used industrial.
He said city hall had done all that was necessary to ensure continued growth.
“We’ve created a growth management strategy that prioritizes annexation. This year, we plan to annex another 160 acres on the west side of the city,”,Morrow said.
Morrow noted that utility rates have not increased for residents or businesses for two consecutive years.
Morrow listed many other accomplishments such as the completion of a new city website, receiving $2.2 million in grants, the Main Street Corridor Plan and the Pavement Management Plan.
He said the city had attracted $21 million in private investments during the year.
Morrow expressed appreciation for citizen participation in online surveys, town hall meetings and advisory boards.
“Gardner residents, you too, continue to plant and tend to those planted seeds, and they will grow into a brighter future for Gardner,” said Morrow.
“We will continue to create the conditions necessary to attract businesses, so they will take root here. We will continue to plant seeds needed for growth, and sharpen the tools required to tend to that growth. We will continue to pursue a brighter future for the residents of Gardner,”,he said in conclusion.
Packets of sunflower seeds and a 20 page Annual Report were handed out to all who attended.

After the SOC address, Steve Shute, council president said, “I think we’re rounding into form. It’s taken a few years to get here, but we are now poised to really impact, not only Gardner, but all of Johnson County, with economic development. I’m really excited about what’s going to be coming up over the next two years— five years – ten years. This community is on the way up. The arrow’s pointed in the right direction.”
Todd Winters, council vice president said, “It’s a really exciting time to be a part of Gardner with everything that’s coming. We’re starting to see all this come to fruition, and we’re so excited about the growth that’s coming.”
Jason Camis, president-Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce, said, “The mayor had some great points about the direction the city is moving, showcasing not only some of the projects that people are seeing or hearing about, but also recognizing that some of these developments take much longer than a couple months or a couple years to come to fruition. I think we’ll see some big wins in the near future and even bigger wins down the line.”
Rich Melton, council member, said, “ I was excited about it. We’ve got a lot coming down, and that’s what is exciting about being part of city government, seeing the changes that are happening and being part of it. Gardner’s got a lot of stuff going on in the future that’s very positive. I’m glad to be a part of it, and I think that even though we disagree a lot, we’re a pretty solid team as a governing body.”