‘Fabulous at 40′

Published 10:27pm Tuesday, May 6, 2014

An optimistic mayor speaking during Suffolk’s 40th anniversary year exuded confidence in the city’s accomplishments in recent years and high hopes of what’s to come during the annual State of the City event.

“We’re feeling fabulous at 40,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said during her speech at the Chamber of Commerce event. “This 40th anniversary has been a welcome opportunity to look back at our past through fresh eyes and look forward to a new time of growth and influence.”

 Mayor Linda T. Johnson spoke about the city’s financial health, educational opportunities, retail options and more during Tuesday’s State of the City event.
Mayor Linda T. Johnson spoke about the city’s financial health, educational opportunities, retail options and more during Tuesday’s State of the City event.

With about 500 in attendance, Johnson touted the city’s financial position, economic growth, educational opportunities, health care options, retail boom, quality of life and individuals who are working to make the city better.

With assistance from the city’s financial adviser, David Rose, who spoke on a video played during her speech, Johnson said the city’s financial position is strong and sustainable.

“I can assure you, we are continuing to build on the progress we’ve achieved in recent years,” Johnson said, recognizing City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn and the city’s department heads and other employees. “Together, they deliver the highest quality service at the lowest possible cost.”

She said the city’s increasing credit ratings are estimated to save the city about $23 million in new debt and the refinancing of old debts.

Johnson mentioned the new city hall and E911 center, new library and the Whaleyville Community Center as examples of public investment in the city.

She also noted the city’s growing economic base, including last year’s announcement of a $96-million investment in new equipment by Unilever Lipton, which kept about 300 jobs in Suffolk.

“Why have so many thriving, successful businesses decided to call Suffolk home over the years? For the exact same reasons so many people have chosen to make Suffolk their home — our unique charm, our desirable location and, yes, our Southern hospitality,” Johnson said.

Following comments from one senior from each of the city’s five public and private high schools, Johnson said the city’s schools “are strong, but are working to be better.”

She noted the public schools’ AdvancED accreditation and noted the schools also are working to improve their students’ community stewardship with the public schools’ new policy of requiring community service for graduation.

Touting the city’s recreational opportunities including five golf courses, historic sites, water recreation, walking trails, the Great Dismal Swamp and more, Johnson said, “It’s evident we are serious about having fun in Suffolk.”

“It’s easy to see why Suffolk is a destination for companies from the U.S. and abroad,” she said. “We have come so far, and our future is as bright as our determination is strong.”

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