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Voters, leaders put Banks on path to a bright future

I have been asked to put pen to paper to offer some words about the City of Banks, so I have. I love living in Banks, and I always welcome the opportunity to talk about our jewel of a city.

Rather than weave a narrative, I decided to summarize a few things I think are important. Others might not agree, but, hey, I’m the one writing this.

Five years ago, the Banks City Council proposed, and the citizens voted for, a council-manager form of government. After a lengthy process, and at least one false start, the council hired a truly exceptional city manager: Jim Hough.

Jim’s experience and leadership set the City of Banks on a course for stability that will outlast most of the citizens. For me, a new mayor with no previous experience in local government, Jim’s affability and vast experience made my job easy from the first day. Over that time his enthusiasm for the brilliant potential of the city has been unwavering. We are nearing the five-year anniversary of that milestone in the history of Banks and we face another transition. Jim is retiring this fall, and I will miss him very much.

After a long search, the council, with community input, selected a new city manager to replace him on Sept. 11: Kyle Awesome. (Signal the trumpet fanfare.)

Kyle will be filling some big shoes, but I am confident he will be just what we need during this season in the life of the city. I look forward to working with Kyle, and I am excited about the new possibilities this transition brings.

I view a couple of recent votes as affirmations of community commitment to this city and the surrounding areas. It’s no secret that the economy is slow and personal, business, and municipal budgets are tight across Oregon. Every penny counts.

Nevertheless, even with a slightly higher rate, the citizens of Banks voted to renew dedicated police services for another five years. The vote was close, but the levy passed. There was no lapse in service when the contract expired earlier this year. Considering the economy, I viewed the result as confirmation of my faith that my neighbors care deeply about maintaining the quality of life here.

In the following May election, the Banks School District proposed a school construction bond. After four previous failed attempts, I personally held little hope of passage. However, voters approved the bond.

While I know some are not as happy, I was and still am delighted. Good schools are a cornerstone of any community and the construction bond will allow the school district to focus on education rather than mounting maintenance and safety issues.

Considering that the economy hadn’t improved much between elections and considering that we had recently passed the police levy, I viewed the bond passage as final proof that there exists a broad commitment to make Banks a great place to live.

In keeping with the theme of community involvement, Banks has hosted, and will host, some great events this summer. We held the fourth annual National Night Out. Of course, the Banks Days Celebration, which includes a parade, racing, and truck and tractor pulls, is always great fun. (Music, beer, and good people; that’s livin’ right there.)

BubbaPalooza was held for the first time in Banks, at Sunset Park, and Banks was the official starting place of the 20th Annual STIHL Tour Des Trees 2012, which saw 120 professional arborists start on a 500-mile bicycle trek around Oregon. To help celebrate the event, a local nursery donated about 20 trees to start an educational arbor in our Greenville Park.  

Finally, we’ve recently finished some significant city projects, significant for Banks at least. We finished upgrading the pumps and various elements in the water utility, built out the interior of the Public Works building, and completely remodeled the City of Banks Library. The Friends of the Banks Library are currently working on plans and funding strategies to expand the Library space even more.

I find my word count is approaching the mandated limit, so I must end now, but not before offering the following thought from the great philosopher Buckaroo Banzai: “Don't be mean. We don't have to be mean, cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”

 

John Kinsky is the mayor of the City of Banks




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