Our Opinion: Resolutions for 2014

Published 8:25am Friday, January 3, 2014

Daily Herald editorial

As the new year gets underway, there are plenty of things we would like to see take place in Austin and Mower County. We hope to see others share our New Years Resolutions, as we believe Austin needs to accomplish much in 2014 to lay the groundwork for bigger and better things.

Reduce unemployment

We would like to see more economic growth in Austin, as the community is in dire need of what Mayor Tom Stiehm refers to as “good, decent-paying jobs.” Austin’s unemployment may be at less than 4 percent, but more than 19 percent of its residents live at or below the federal poverty line. That’s an incredible statistic, and a serious issue for the city’s to contend with. We hope local leaders will do all they can to bring more jobs that will raise our community’s standard of living.

Support Vision 2020

We hope Vision 2020 organizers can make progress on several of their bigger projects. Though organizers may see support among their neighbors, there are still Austin residents who remain unconvinced of Vision 2020’s potential after two years of planning and smaller projects. It’s time to silence the critics with decisive action on a community recreation center and a community-wide fiber project, among other initiatives.

Merge the arts

We hope the Austin Area Commission for the Arts can get an answer soon on where the Austin ArtWorks Center will be located. The first choice for the downtown art center is the bank building, but officials are still in negotiations with building owner Patrick Bradley about the space and have discussed alternate locations. We hope the two sides can come to an agreement, as several events have already been held to showcase the potential of the bank building, which is the most visible choice for a location. But if officials need to find a new location, we hope leaders can meet their goal of holding a grand opening during the 2014 Austin ArtWorks Festival.

Work together

We hope the Mower County Board of Commissioners and Auditor-Treasurer Doug Groh find a better way to work together in 2014. Last year saw many public disagreements and conflicts between Groh and the board. The Office of the State Auditor investigated Groh’s office for a $500 fund shortage. The board moved vital statistics records from Groh’s office to Recorder Jill Cordes’ office after the public had a difficult time seeing the records. And, the situation peaked when an altercation led both Groh and Finance Director Donna Welsh to accuse the other of being verbally abusive, and then the board voted to limit contact between Groh and Welsh to emails or letters, with a human resources or county administration representative present during face-to-face meetings.

We urge the board and Groh to find a middle ground in 2014 — or at least a way to work together without such public disagreements. What happened in 2013 can’t make a positive work environment.


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