The year 2011 saw numerous improvements and growth in the City of Manchester. We can see the strength of the fabric of our community. Our population is increasing because we are a desirable place to live. Our industrial base is strong and committed not only to their workplace but also to this community. Our tax rate has not been raised in four years. Manchester has a dedicated and professional public safety department that keeps our citizens safe. Our citizens give back to this community through participation in civic clubs and non-profit organizations. And our community of faith ministers to those who are in need. Considering all of the above, it shows the strength of Manchester in spite of a recession that has gone on for several years. Manchester continues to move forward.
Manchester sales tax collections continue to grow. In November of 2007, the City collected $553,902. While the next two years the amount of sales tax collected took a dip, collections in 2010 were up to $577,605 and up again in 2011 to $582,281. These figures are encouraging considering the slow economy. This is a result of the retail and the community working together to keep our tax dollars at home.
The City of Manchester considers retail growth a high priority. The Timberloft Restaurant, Baskin Robbins, and the Sweet Bakery have all opened locations in Manchester. New businesses are open on the Square are open as well. The Health Nutt, The Merchantile, the Trade Gallery and Treasure Island all offer new shopping opportunities in the Downtown area. Plans to renovate another existing building are being made. Manchester Health and Codes Department has been working to increase efficiency with permits and inspections to better serve the public. Director Kirt Gray and Assistant Director Loren Lynch have obtained their commercial and residential building inspector certifications.
There has also been growth in industrial areas. VIAM recently expanded with the addition of VICAM. Also, the Manchester Batesville Casket Company plant was chosen over the home Batesville Casket plant in Indiana for expansion. The company will invest $7 million and create 35 new jobs. In an effort to attract new industry to the Industrial Park, construction of a direct access road has begun. This road will create a direct connection from the Park to Interstate 24.
The City of Manchester is looking forward to improvements and events in the Downtown area. Monthly Cruise-Ins were held on the Square in 2011. Average attendance was 276 cars, with the largest Cruise-In having 378 cars. Additional events included the Chili Cook Off in conjunction with Manchester Fire & Rescue, and two additional Cruise-Ins with the Midnight Rodders Car Club from the Nashville area and a motorcycle rally with the American Legion Riders. The Gearhead Gazette featured the Midnight Rodders Cruise-In in a recent issue.
Construction on Downtown renovations could begin as soon as spring of 2012. Environmental testing has been completed and engineering for the project is in the final stages. Construction can begin as soon as approval is given from the State.
While our main objective is the future and growth of the community, it is also important to remember those who have made significant contributions in the past. The McKellar Street Bridge was completed and dedicated in the name of Charles E. Powers, Jr. The bridge at the Interstate 24 Exit 114 was dedicated to former Mayor Roy Worthington.
The City of Manchester continues to grow and expand in the Water and Sewer Department as well. The expansion and rehabilitation project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant utilizes many state of the art technologies. These include SCADA; a system that allows the plant to be monitored through the computer system. Alarms will sound if a pump is not operating properly or an electrical issue occurs. In addition, the new U-V light will treat wastewater without the hazards of the old chlorine system. Neighboring residents no longer have to worry about the threat of an accidental chemical release. It also provides for a much safer environment for our operators and employees to work. In an effort to save money, the Water Department sold the scrap metal from the project and earned over $80,000. Work is also set to begin on another water project. A tower and pump station will be built in the 16th Model community. The City and Coffee County will share the cost of this project.
The Parks and Recreation Department has accomplished much in the past year. A $100,000 energy efficient conservation grant was used to replace high energy use lights in several areas at the Recreation Complex, make improvements at the Ada Wright Center, purchase a capacitor for the Recreation Complex and create a Master Plan for the Manchester Sports Park. All these improvements were done with grant funds at no cost to the City.
The Recreation Department also received a Diabetes Initiative Grant from the Tennessee Dept. of Health to fund a new indoor playground at the Recreation Complex, free Amazing family nights, and a community garden in the Manchester Sports Park. The playground includes a climbing wall and cardio equipment for children. The community garden is named Dean’s Garden after Miss Dean May who lived on the property. The project involves over 700 children in grades Pre K, 1st, and 3rd at College Street Elementary School, and 6th grades at Coffee County Middle School. The children are learning about growing plants for food, composting, and the nutritional value of fresh vegetables to a healthy diet. The students will plant the garden and harvest the produce to take home and share with families in their school who could benefit from some fresh vegetables. Coordinated School Health Coordinators from both school systems, UT Agricultural Extension, U. S. Soil Conservation, and the Coffee County Health Council have supplied volunteers to assist with the projects in the schools.
The City is continually making plans to expand the Little Duck River Greenway. The Recreation Department received a Recreational Trails Program Grant to extend the Greenway to the Old Stone Fort State Park entrance. The City also received a $135,000 grant at no cost to the City to extend the Greenway in the Manchester Sports Park.
The value of these expansions and improvements was $520,400.00 with a cost to the City of only $38,000. We continually strive to use the funds available to us in a wise and responsible manner and in a way that benefits all of our residents. Parks and Recreation Director Bonnie Gamble diligently works to maintain and grow the department. She was recently elected President of the State Recreation and Parks Association.
The City of Manchester Police Department works constantly to excel in many areas. Tragically, there have been murders in the past year. The Department captured and arrested suspects within hours of these deaths. A drug round up resulted in the removal of hundreds of prescription pills, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine from the streets of our community. This round up was the product of a year-long operation.
The Manchester Police Department organizes and implements the Christmas and 4th of July Parades and the Children’s Christmas Party. The party provides toys and food baskets for approximately 400-500 children every year. They work persistently throughout the year to make these programs a success. They also work with the Mayor’s Office on the Cruise-Ins and other various events.
The Police Department in conjunction with Manchester Fire & Rescue established a Storm Relief Team. Trucks and other equipment were acquired from the LESO program at no cost to the City.
The Manchester Police Department uses various sources to acquire equipment for the City at no cost. A Governor’s Highway Safety Grant was used to add laptops to Police cars. Three additional vehicles for investigators were acquired at no cost to the taxpayer. The Police Department worked with the City School System to implement an after school program for at risk students. The Department supplied the school with $100,000 worth of musical instruments. All of these things were done with no cost to the City.
The Police Department is focused on the safety of residents. The Department answered 18,872 calls in the previous year. Also, the Department in conjunction with the Public Works Department established a new crosswalk for the Coffee County Central High School.
Manchester Fire & Rescue is an important asset to our community. Upgrading and replacing equipment is necessary for the safety of residents and firefighters. A 75 ft. elevating platform truck was purchased for $12,500. The transaction was completed with no additional cost to the citizens as an older truck was sold to provide funds for this purchase. The Department sold the 1975 50 ft ladder truck to purchase saws, generators, and other equipment with no additional cost to the City. This equipment will be used by the City of Manchester Storm Relief Team. The Department also used Homeland Security funds to purchase new mobile radios for trucks.
Manchester Fire and Rescue has also established the annual Chili Cook Off. The event held in 2010 raised $3300 for MDA. The event held in 2011 raised $4300 for the local Firefighters Association which supports local charities.
Major repairs were needed at Fire Station II. Firefighters did much of the work to the ceiling, doors, blinds, plumbing, and to repair leaks. This saved the City money on labor costs.
The City of Manchester is proud to have all firefighters’ salaries made equal this past year according to step and top out plans.
Manchester strives to be an environmentally friendly city. Waste Management, in conjunction with the Public Works Department, has opened a recycling center in the parking lot behind City Hall. There are bins for cardboard, paper, aluminum, and plastic. Bins are open to the public and are accessible at all times. The Public Works Department continues to strive to keep our City clean and attractive.
City of Manchester Public Works department employees provided labor to make repairs to the roof of the Animal Shelter. Animal Control works closely with the Coffee County Humane Society for Saturday adoptions once a month from April to October.
All these improvements have been accomplished with no increase in property taxes for the past four years. This is due to diligent aldermen, department heads, and employees. There is much sharing of equipment and workloads.
My vision all along as the Mayor of Manchester has been to make our community the place our children will return to and call home. My husband and I were blessed this past year when our youngest son, after attending medical school in Philadelphia for four years and a three year residency program in New York, returned to Manchester to live and practice.
As I have thought about my story, I am reminded of the stories of all of the families in our community called Manchester. Each and every one of us is influenced by what is happening in our families. At our core, the need to take care of our families is paramount. We seek jobs to earn wages that allow us to provide for our families. We want a low crime environment to make sure our families are safe. We want amenities in our community for the enjoyment of our families. Families are the fabric of our community and each family is a thread that makes our community strong.
Mayor Betty Superstein