‘Much accomplished, much to do’
Mayor Chuck Barney outlines city commitments in Minot’s first State of the City address
Minot’s commitment to flood control and quality of life were key themes as Mayor Chuck Barney delivered a first State of the City address at Magic City Campus Thursday.
At the event featuring the unveiling of a city flag and recognition of a fifth-grade essay winner, Barney spoke of the city’s past, present and future, touching on a multitude of topics that ranged from collecting garbage to combating opioid abuse.
“We are committed to flood protection for the entire city. We are committed to becoming an even more resilient community, and we are committed to the safety of our community,” Barney said.
“We have accomplished much as a city, but we have a lot of work ahead. We are moving our community forward. We are committed to completing the downtown parking structures, working with the developers to find a resolution that is mutually beneficial,” Barney said, pausing to add, “We are going to find a solution that is in the best interest of Minot and put that behind us.”
He also said the city is committed to finishing the Northwest Area Water Project, investing in agriculture and the downtown and to the pursuit of fiscal responsibility, transparency and economic diversity.
“We are committed to maintaining and improving the quality of life that we have here,” Barney said.
During the address, Barney gave time to a video showing of a short film about living, working and playing in Minot. He stepped to the side as city council members unveiled a city flag. He recognized fifth-grader Grayson Schaeffer, the winner of the “Why I Love Calling Minot My Home” essay contest.
Students from 10 Minot elementary schools submitted 135 entries, led by Edison Elementary with 45. The writings of the 13 finalists were on display at Thursday’s event, and Schaeffer read his essay on stage.
These highlights followed Barney’s recounting of Minot’s history, particularly the 2011 flood and the oil boom growth that swelled the city’s population from about 36,000 to about 49,000.
He spoke about receiving phone calls every spring from residents concerned about flood risk, regardless of how much rain or snow has fallen.
“We are going to provide permanent flood protection so we don’t have to face that as a community again,” he said. He identified March 28 as ground-breaking day for the first three phases of the flood protection project in Minot.
“That’s a huge deal. It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “We have had tremendous partners at the federal level with our congressional delegation. We’ve had tremendous support from the North Dakota Legislature.”
Barney also spoke of the coming benefits from the National Disaster Resilience Program and the assets of Minot State University and Minot Air Force Base.
He noted the challenges of falling farm commodity prices and oil prices, state revenue losses, reduced city sales tax collections, falling home valuations, rising tax levies and a growing need for city services.
“But the future is bright, and no where is the future more bright than with our youth,” he said. Having read the student essays, he said it’s apparent that the children love the quality of life and embrace even Minot’s cold winters.
“The events of our past have made Minot what it is today,” he said. “The city that residents proudly call home, the city of residents working to secure their future, a city of residents committed to educating their children, a city full of entrepreneurs and businesses looking to better their way of life. A city where residents choose to live, work, play and stay. Minot is our home.”