To the Council members, citizens of this great
city, tonight I am honored once again to give my State of the
It is a great time to be an American. With the swearing in of
our new President, Barack Obama, excitement is being felt all
over the country. There is a feeling of togetherness, that I pray
will be evident right here in our own city.
The State of the City Address is the time for us to review the
previous year and to look forward to the future and discuss plans
for this great city of ours.
As I began reflecting on the State of our City, I realized that
Forrest City can echo much of what is being said throughout the
rest of the country. Just saying the word economy makes the nation
cringe. Certainly the economy has taken some hits here in Forrest
City. Businesses have downsized, some have closed, gas prices
rose to an all time high, and unemployment rates climbed to the
highest in years.
We still remember and feel the effects of the Sanyo 2007 downsizing.
Also in 2008, in addition to layoffs of city employees we saw
the closing of Colony Shop, Harvest Foods, It’s A Wing Thing,
Taylor Casbeer, Machen Ford and others. These business closings
and layoffs led to significant increases in our unemployment rates.
Increases in gas prices brought another big hit, as gas prices
rose to almost $4.00 per gallon, costing from 21 to 22 thousand
dollars a load. However by the end of 2008 relief was in sight
with gas prices falling to under $2.00 per gallon.
Someone once said, “Don’t deny the worst –
look for the best.” Yes some unpleasant things occurred
in 2008, but all is not lost. The question we must ask ourselves
now is, “Where do we go from here?”
First, let’s work together to improve our reputation, -
how others see us and for that matter how we see ourselves. Lets
not Blame others for the state of the city, at least until you
yourself have done something to help with the problem.
If we have any chance of attracting new businesses, educators,
sure we must develop a skilled educated workforce and we applaud
your efforts to teach our children, but first we MUST have people
willing to put in a honest days of work. Our workforce has to
step up so businesses know if they come here, they will be able
to find dependable employees.
If companies are saying there are openings and the unemployment
office is saying there are job seekers, I have to ask, We have
to ask, “Where is the disconnect”?
thank those of you who take pride in the appearance of your business.
How your business looks goes a long way in promoting our city.
In 2008, we had over 4.8 million dollars spent in either building
new commercial properties or improving current properties.
Thank you to St. Francis County EMS, Arkansas Electric Outlet,
A Dental Means, Lindsey F. C. Commercial Property, Piney Ridge
Apartments, East Arkansas Video, McDonald’s, Dr. W.M. Traylor,
Christopher Homes Apartment, Woodhouse Mortuary, Family Dollar
and the new Forrest City Bank branch for the improvements made
to your properties. The pride you showed in your appearance shows
your pride in Forrest City.
I am also grateful for the new businesses that opened in 2008
– Belleville Boot Company, Lenny’s Sub Shop, Eastern
Arkansas Foot Care, Moctezuma Grill, Southern Taste, East Arkansas
Autoplex, S & C Fashions, Able Body Labor, EZ Cash Pawn and
Retail and the others who made up the 27 new business. We look
forward to the opening of Comfort Inn Suites and the rebuilding
of the Shell gas station on Highway 1. We are also looking forward
to the opening of the St. Francis County Assisted Living Facility
and the Fine Arts Center at East Arkansas Community College.
To help improve the appearance of our city, our code enforcement
officer, worked diligently in condemning dilapidated houses. In
2008, 34 structures were placed on the condemnation list. Of those
34, five were removed by the home owners, five were bid out for
demolition, nine have been torn down by a regional work crew from
Brickey’s Prison and ten are still in the process of removal
by bids and the Regional Work Crew. After completion of these
houses, we will begin our second phase of condemnation with several
houses already on a new list.
Also, in an effort to improve the appearance of our city, every
year our pest control officer mails out hundreds of letters asking
property owners to cut weed lots, remove debris and dysfunctional
transportation. This is where you live or where your neighbor
has to live next door to it. Don’t let your property be
seen as an eye soar. Take pride in your property, your neighborhood,
As we continue to ask, “Where do we go from here?”
Not only do we step up and begin to take responsibility, we must
also realize that we have a lot of good in our community. I am
reminded of a familiar quote “ Be the change you want to
see in the world.” I ask now that you journey with me, as
we review a few of the accomplishments of 2008.
1. In October, a ground breaking ceremony was held for the
Delta Regional Airport which studies have shown will help attract
business to the area.
2. The city purchased over $360,000 in capitol expenditures
and still ended the year with over 4.5 million in reserves.
3. Even with the downturn in the economy, the city collected
over $250,000 more in Tax Receipts then it did in 2007.
4. Recent annexation of land near the by pass and the completion
of the bypass infrastructure study will paved the way for future
5. City employees received a boost, when the city council approved
a $1,000 bonus for all employees and agreed to pay employees
for ½ of unused sick time over bank.
6. The cost of health insurance decreased for city employees,
resulting in a savings in the 2009 budget.
7. At the end of 2008 our Police and Fire Departments were
8. With the economic situation during the year, crime was expected
to increase; however through the Police Department’s investigations
and stepped up patrols, crimes have been dramatically reduced.
a. Violent and Property crimes both fell after
peaking in July and August
b. Our city had no murders in 2008.
9. Criminal Investigations had a clearance rate of approximately
87% on assigned cases. Search warrants were executed in 2008
as a result of investigations. The division seized over $82,000.00
in cash and several vehicles from drug dealers; hitting dealers
in the pocket book as well as getting them off of our streets
and sending them to prison.
10. The ICOP video camera systems purchased for police cars
has already proven to be a great investment.
• This system provides visual and audio recordings
for court cases,
• Allows for complaints on officer to be reviewed and
completed in a shorter period of time
• Helps prevent false claims against the officers, police
department, and city
• A grant was received that off-set the cost of the
system by $40,000.
11. The Inmate Work Release Program helped to keep the city
streets clean, with over 5000 fifty-five gallon trash bags being
collected. Working in conjunction with the City Shop personnel,
the cloverleaf was constantly cleaned and groomed to attract
travelers. As a result of this program, the city had an estimated
$75,000 cost savings on prisoner expense.
12. As a result of steps taken by the Fire Chief, Forrest City
is positioned to have its ISO Public Protection Classification
rating decreased. This decrease will result in lower insurance
rates for residents and businesses.
13. Our Public Works Department can still provide quality services
to our residents –
services that not all cities can boast of providing, such as
mosquito spraying, trucks
that pick up residential solid waste, picking up leaves and
14. A Skate park and Splash pad were constructed at the Sport’s
Complex with the city
footing only ½ of the cost. By summer, stations will
be purchased for the skate park
and it will be opened to the public.
15. The city council approved the purchase of Centerpoint Accounting
Software for the
City Clerk’s office. This software will finally bring
the office into the 21st century, by
allowing more e-filing. This software will also facilitate in
the goal to make Direct
Deposit available for the employees.
16. City Employees learned that upward mobility was indeed
possible throughout the
city with several promotions occurring in the Police and Fire
Dwight Duch was named Chief in August, - being the first
to come from the ranks in over 30 years.
Marilyn Nobles was promoted to Patrol Sergeant, becoming the
first female to serve in this capacity in the history of the
Other promotions in the Police Department included:
Brian Davis promoted to Detective Lieutenant
Edgar Moor promoted to Special Services Lieutenant
Deon Lee promoted to Patrol Lieutenant
Richard Bryson promoted to Detective Sergeant
James Tucker promoted to Patrol Sergeant
Timothy McMahon promoted to Detective
Three Corporal positions will be named early this year.
Promotions in the Fire Department were:
Thurlo Ward promoted from Lieutenant to Captain
Marvin Dale promoted to Lieutenant
Shane Dallas promoted to Safety Officer
And in Public Works
Floyd Patton was promoted to public works director
J C Rice was promoted to assistant public works director
Good things are still happening in Forrest City and as mayor;
I truly believe greater things are on the horizon for us. But
to get there, I need your help.
Earlier I talked about entities that needed to step up and take
responsibility. This includes city government.. I will ask our
department heads to step up, work together, and do their part
to clean our city and improve on all city services.
President Obama has proposed a stimulus package to help with
infrastructure projects. I have been actively meeting with our
legislatures, senators and representatives to make sure they are
aware of the projects needed. It seems that when money becomes
available, the Delta is often forgotten in the process. My job
is to make sure that doesn’t continue to happen. I have
scheduled meetings in Little Rock and Washington D.C. to present
information on our major infrastructure projects.
Citizens, the time has come for Forrest City to be on the map
in a positive light. I, as mayor, and you, as taxpaying citizens,
deserve to know what efforts are being taken to bring jobs. My
goal is to aggressively market our city. I pledge to you that
I will stay in constant contact with those in position to help.
In closing, I am honored once again to give my state of the city
Thank you again for allowing me to be your public servant. I
continue to be honored by the trust you have placed in me.
Let’s work together for by working together, great things
will come our way.
Gordon McCoy, Mayor