Early in his State of the Town speech Friday morning at the Stardance Center, Mayor Ed Honea stumbled over the word "Marana."
"Geez," he said in self-deprecation, "I've lived hear all my life."
From there, the 21-year city council member delivered his fourth State of the Town address, sharing his visions of Marana, where it's been, where it is and where it's going, for a breakfast audience of some 340 people. The event, at the foot of Sombrero Peak, was hosted by the Marana Chamber of Commerce and the Marana Foundation for Educational Excellence.
Honea received applause on several occasions, among them a reference to the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain resort and its opening this fall, renewed announcement of the Twin Peaks interchange project on Interstate 10, and a strong commitment to securing water resources.
Honea shared highlights of Marana's new strategic plan and its five priorities: commerce, community building, heritage, progress/ innovation and recreation.
Last week, before he delivered the speech, Honea said the crowd doesn't want "your life story, and I don't want anybody falling asleep.
"I'm more comfortable now, especially as mayor, being involved in the day-to-day routine of what's going on," said Honea. "I'm more knowledgeable now, and more comfortable in what I have to say."
Representatives of Oro Valley and Sahuarita town governments were in the crowd, along with District 25 and 26 legislators.
The Marana High School choir sang The Star Spangled Banner.
Excerpts from Marana Mayor Ed Honea's State of the Town address:
Despite the slowdown in the economy, many private sector partners are eager to meet with the town to discuss projects associated with our downtown. The groundwork is being placed for what will be an exciting downtown, one where people can work and live. … I look forward to the day, which is coming soon, when the first downtown projects begin construction.
Even though he was only around for a couple of days, Tiger Woods made his PGA Tour comeback in Marana. His presence brought worldwide attention to our town and helped sell more than 65,000 tickets to the event. Worldwide viewership of the event was at record levels when Tiger played, including the largest-ever TV audience to watch second-round action at the Accenture Match Play. It would be incredibly expensive to buy the exposure our town received that week on the Golf Channel and NBC.
We worked with FEMA to reach a resolution that saves our citizens about $9 million a year in flood-insurance premiums. But we aren't finished. Through various capital improvement projects and private sector partnerships, the town will work to have as many affected areas as possible removed from the new floodplain because public safety is our top priority.
When completed, Twin Peaks and its sister project, the expansion of Dove Mountain Boulevard-Camino de Manana, will link Continental Ranch and Dove Mountain with an overpass at I-10 and a bridge over the Santa Cruz River. … This is a major accomplishment for the town and is the result of many years of partnerships with the public and private sector.
These difficult economic times will not last forever and the town will be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when conditions improve.
An important element of the economic roadmap will be the ability to attract and retain business and industry. Our residents must have opportunities to work in Marana. It's the only way we can reach our goal of becoming a self-sustaining community where people can live and earn livable wages. … We will re-establish our downtown, we will have a central business district and we will see more and more people both living and working in Marana.
Commerce is the engine that drives any community and Marana is ready to hit the accelerator.
One of the subjects we have discussed during the past couple of State of the Town Addresses is the need for a cemetery to honor those who have meant so much to Marana. I'm happy to report that ground will be broken on the Barnett Road facility in June. For the first time in generations, Marana families will have the opportunity to memorialize loved ones in their hometown.
When development picks up again, and we all know it will, Marana will be known as the best place in the region to do business. … We also expect developers and business owners to think in progressive ways when they come to Marana because that's what our citizens deserve. Town leadership will see to it that Marana continues to be a model of excellence in the region.
Earlier this month, we broke ground on the Silverbell-Cortaro District Park, near Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr. Library. … In the future, we plan another large park in the northern part of town, near the airport.
Like most other Arizona municipalities, we face growing budget challenges. Staff and council continue to aggressively monitor our revenue picture. We developed creative ways to reduce expenditures this fiscal year and (are) working toward a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2010. Our priorities are to ensure that our community remains safe, that we maintain and keep current our infrastructure, that we position the town for a quick recovery when the economy rebounds and that we align our decision-making with the strategic plan. The town has been prudent in its budgeting throughout its history because we all knew lean times would eventually arrive. Tough decisions will need to be made and we can't shy away from that fact. … This is a trying period for all of us, but a new day is coming and the Town of Marana will be well-positioned for success when that happens.