Let me start by saying congratulations to all the student athletes at Helena High who have recently signed scholarships to participate in men’s and women’s sports at the college level. I am so pleased to see these opportunities for these young athletes begin to arise quickly and steadily. These young men and women not only represent Helena High School but will also be great ambassadors for the City of Helena as well. I am so proud for each of them and their families.
I am happy to report that progress on several projects continues to move ahead. We were able to repave several streets this year, including the Old Town area where much needed repairs were made. We will continue to make other street repairs as funds come available. I have met with Park Director Bill Miller over the last few months to put a plan in place to pursue building a new youth soccer field at the Sports Complex and add additional parking as well. We will present a plan to the council in the coming months to address these needs.
I, along with other local officials, began meeting with ALDOT’ Director John Cooper over the last several months to request the State 261 widening project be put back on the priority list for ALDOT projects. We are making great progress and are working toward a funding formula with ALDOT and other municipalities who would benefit from this much needed and long overdue project. We will continue to push for this project as it absolutely needs to happen for gridlock traffic relief and is the first step needed before the long planned Bypass project can proceed.
Business is great in our city as a couple of new restaurants and shops have opened as vacancies came available at established locations. As much as many hated to see two favorite restaurants leave Old Town, it was great to see them replaced quickly with new ventures. Senor Chef is now open in place of the Coal Yard, and I am very excited to learn that Beef O’Brady’s will be opening in the building previously occupied by Papa Saia’s.
Please remember that a percentage of the sales tax collected when you shop in Helena insures that city services and improvements continue to be funded as a result of this income. The creation of new jobs as a result of these new retail establishments also contributes greatly to the local economic vitality. We hope to see more progress in this area as we continue to look for retail and business opportunities that will support and provide new opportunities in our community.
Finally, I am pleased to share with you that the Helena Business Association, in conjunction with the City of Helena will host the first annual Hometown Business Expo on Saturday, March 4, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Helena Sports Complex. You can meet Helena business owners and learn more about many local Helena businesses, both store-front and home-based, that serve our local economy. The Helena High School jazz band will headline the entertainment line-up plus your favorite food trucks will be available for dining options. Secure document destruction will be available through Shred-It. Any business serving Helena is welcome, and we invite our entire community to come out for the event.
I would like to close by saying “thank you,” to each and every resident and business owner for working everyday to help our community remain safe and secure, making this the best place to live in our state so we can be proud to say, “Helena, it’s where you want to be!”