By Steve Dreyer
Mayor Don Higginson shared his “State of the City” speech spotlight with four longtime city volunteers Tuesday night, saying they represent the spirt that has made the city what it is today.
“Everyone knows Poway as the ‘City in the Country,’ but today, we are also known as the ‘City that Volunteers,’” the mayor said.
Receiving special recognition were Morris and Muriel Rinehart, Anna Gateley-Stanton and Gwen Mauder. The Rineharts are original members of the Poway Senior Volunteer Patrol and continue to volunteer 25 years later. Morris is 96 and Muriel is 89, the mayor noted. Gateley-Stanton has been with Blue Sky Ecological Reserve since 1993 and is the only remaining docent from the original class. She oversees the Blue Sky tracking team. Mauder was volunteered at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts since 1994 and averages 140 volunteer hours a year
“We have a lot of people who are quietly doing well, and doing amazing things” Higginson said of the city’s corps of volunteers.
Turning to more traditional subjects, the mayor said the city in 2011 will emphasize two projects: progressing the planning of a new Community Park activity center and working with the business community to encourage economic development.
The Michael P. Cafagna Community Center is in the preliminary planning stages, with ground breaking a possibility within the next year or so. It would be a multi-generational center, incorporating activities for senior citizens, youngsters and the general public.
Higginson noted that a January business summit co-sponsored by the city and the Chamber of Commerce drew 70 participants, saying “I want to express my appreciation for the confidence and hope expressed by our businesses.”
Looking back on 2010, Higginson said that despite the “distractions” of two city elections within five months, “we still actively pursued our goals and met them.” These included maintaining a balanced budget, selling the Poway Royal Mobile Estates park, maintaining a low crime rate, dedicating a new Veterans Park and “establishing a proper water rate for our ratepayers.”
“We have a balanced budget, an honest balanced budget,” the mayor said. “We have had to tighten the best and scale back, but have not experienced any significant cuts in service.” The city will remain “vigilant” in the area of finances through “appropriate pension reform and pay,” and with accurate revenue projections and a close watch on expenditures.
A second version of the “State of the City” speech was scheduled to be presented by the mayor on Thursday to a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored breakfast.