Quality of life continues to rise

Published 7:02 pm Saturday, January 24, 2015

By Mayor Linda Johnson

Quality of life is more than a checkbox on a form in Suffolk. It is a priority for City Council and city administration to make the lives of our residents better by investing in communities.

Suffolk’s nationally award winning National Night Out festivities illustrate how that investment is paying big dividends. Crime statistics bear out the fact that Suffolk is helping say no to crime, with measurable violent and minor crime numbers down by double-digit percentages.

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Ranking first in the nation for the third time in our population category, Suffolk’s National Night Out celebration is a public safety-community partnership that brings citizens together for more than one night of fun. It is a community-building event that resonates across the city.

Suffolk has become home to the Tour de Cure, a cycling event that serves as a primary fundraiser for the area American Diabetes Association. The Tour de Cure promotes diabetes education, good health and a spirit of helping others. The city was recognized by the Hampton Roads ADA for providing support for this unique event, which utilizes the natural resources of Suffolk as a pristine background for the riders.

Suffolk’s youth also remain a focal point for city resources. From the Summer Work Success Program, which provided on-the-job work experiences for 60 youth during the summer; to the 2014 Teen Summit, which focused on interactive sessions for teens; to the Suffolk Office on Youth, which works to address the needs of youth and families — City Council has ensured opportunities are there for Suffolk’s youth.

Public safety has seen growth, thanks to allocated funding by City Council to continue the vision of improving response times and making Suffolk a safe place to live, work and play. Public safety project investments total more than $40 million dollars in just the last 10 years.

From sites like the North Suffolk Public Safety Center to expansions of existing facilities, personnel are now better positioned to be where they need to be when they need to be to serve residents. It is about putting the necessary pieces in place to provide police, fire and rescue with the tools they need.

A healthy community is a prosperous community, and Suffolk residents continue to take advantage of even more options to stay fit. The Whaleyville Community Center opened this week and will provide the community with a number of amenities including fitness equipment, an outdoor trail and a computer lab.

The Bennett’s Creek Recreation Center project is under way and, when complete, will feature the renovation of a 16,000-square foot former military facility into a quality recreation center with athletic fields.

City employees are also leading the way on the fitness front. From walk-at-work programs to a variety of exercise and diet classes, staff are meeting personal goals as well as staying sharp, mentally and physically, in the workplace.

The “Progress Express” does not have a true destination, as progress never stops, and there is not a finite number of goals or projects, but an overarching desire to continue the forward momentum to ensure all of our citizens can share in the successes.

The New Year brings new opportunities to continue to provide the best services, amenities and responsiveness to the citizens of Suffolk. Progress continues to be the word for the day, for no matter which borough you call home, progress can be seen across our city.

City Council members are united in purpose to deliver the very best service in 2015 to our citizens. May the New Year bring new hopes, new opportunities and new reasons to celebrate.

Linda Johnson is the first elected mayor of Suffolk. Email her at council@suffolkva.us.