In an annual tradition, Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey delivered his fourth “state of the city” address Thursday evening to a packed house at the Hillsboro Main Library’s Event Room.

Willey began his remarks by paying tribute to the recently expanded library building where he was standing, pointing out that the city’s first library, 100 years earlier, started with a budget of $1,000.

As the city celebrates the centennial year of the Hillsboro Public Library, the city’s library has become the third-busiest in the state, Willey said.

“The Hillsboro Public Library truly serves our community,” he said.

Willey thanked the city’s thousand of volunteers who contribute to the community in a variety of roles, and the vibrancy of the city’s arts community. He praised the city’s police, fire and other emergency responders; noted the involvement of “Barley the Hop” in a pedestrian safety campaign; and relished introducing the city’s new police chief, Lee Dobrowolski.

“I can tell you we hired the best police chief in the country!” Willey said. “He starts work on Monday, and we’re lucky to have him here tonight. Lee really stood out among an already tremendous group of finalists.”

Housing was another issue Willey addressed, noting that the new Orenco Station Platform District will build an additional 1,200 apartments over the next three years; there will be new residential units at the 4th Main project downtown; and affordable housing projects are in the works for seniors at Alma Gardens as well as with the REACH housing project breaking ground next spring.

“We see more and more people wanting to move to Hillsboro,” Willey said. “The opportunities are endless here, and it’s exciting to think that each day, a new family discovers why Hillsboro is a special place to live.”

The mayor pointed to employment opportunities as key to the city’s quality of life.

“I like to say, ‘happiness begins with a job,’” Willey explained. “And our local businesses are creating a lot of happiness.”

Willey cited statistics showing that more than 66,000 people work in Hillsboro, with the average annual salary of those employees at approximately $51,000.

“And with our community partners, we are working to attract, grow and retain companies,” Willey added.

He applauded Intel’s economic impact in Oregon — he referred to a recent study showing that Intel contributes $26.7 billion a year to the state’s economy — and said “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Willey also focused on several local business owners, praising them for their successful ventures in the community.

He introduced Ed and Vicki Ohlmann, owners of Orenco Station Cyclery and Pannier Deli; Manny Berman, recently promoted to serve as president/CEO of Tuality Healthcare; and Jon Gimre, owner of Gimre’s Shoes in the downtown business district.

“We are glad to have you as great community partners,” Willey told them.

Willey also touched on transportation issues and the city’s efforts to plan ahead to meet the community’s water needs, and praised the city’s efforts to promote sustainability and energy conservation.

At the end of his address, Willey made clear that he is bullish on Hillsboro’s future.

“We are here to celebrate our city and our city’s future,” Willey said. “We are bold and we are creative; we are energized and we are growing. And I am proud to tell you, the state of our city is great.”

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