PARKERSBURG - This year marks the beginning of Parkersburg's "most progressive times," according to Mayor Bob Newell.
Newell presented his State of the City address during Tuesday's city council meeting, which followed swearing-in ceremonies for the mayor and the nine council members. Newell called 2013 "the beginning of what may be one of the most progressive times in our city's history."
In his address Newell lauded the city's accomplishments in 2012, including several development projects and reduction of the city's debt.
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell, left, the Bible held by his wife Debra Newell, center, is led through the oath of office by Judge J.D. Beane, right, prior to Tuesday’s Parkersburg City Council meeting. (Photo by Michael Erb)
Newell said he has planned "a very aggressive agenda this year and for the next four years, and I have a long list of expectations for this city council and from my administration."
Among his goals outlined Tuesday:
* Continue to develop properties, deal with abandoned facilities and attract new businesses.
* Continue projects and initiatives which bring people to downtown Parkersburg.
* Develop more areas and opportunities for people to enjoy outdoor activities, such as biking and running, as well as more park and playground development.
Newell asked the council to consider participation in the state's Home Rule Pilot Program, which is being considered for expansion by the state Legislature. If approved, four more cities would be added to the program, and Newell said he plans to bring more information on the program to council in future meetings.
He asked council to continue consideration of bringing a baseball team to Parkersburg and development of a stadium.
"I ask that you investigate the feasibility and economic impact of such a venture for our community," he said. "We are the only large city in West Virginia without a venue for large events."
Newell ended his address by talking about what he termed the "vocal minority."
"I ask only one thing from members of city council and that is to have an open mind when considering these issues and the many opportunities ahead for our city," he said. "You will find it becomes easy to follow a vocal minority of people who are against everything. This group is generally made up of people who do not take the time or effort to actually understand an issue and are led by those who do not want to see Parkersburg progress.
"I would ask that you instead pay attention to the vast majority of citizens who say nothing and enjoy the services Parkersburg has to offer. The majority of people want to see Parkersburg grow, but they don't see the necessity of showing up at meetings to influence anyone."
Newell said in the last four years council has taken steps to correct issues in the city, and not all of those decisions have been popular.
"A lot was said by the vocal minority. However, everyone on city council who voted for the necessary measures were re-elected," he said. "So please, don't underestimate the support, understanding and appreciation of the silent majority who expect us to do what is necessary to provide essential daily services."
In other business, council members unanimously approved District 9 Councilman Jim Reed as council president and District 8 Councilman John Rockhold as vice president. Councilwoman Sharon Lynch nominated Councilwoman Nancy Wilcox for vice president, but the motion died for lack of a second.