Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland emphasized in his State of the City speech Thursday at the Kiwanis Club, “There is no component of the city more focused on the future than the Cleveland City School System.”
He also discussed the importance of the city’s two higher-education institutes — Cleveland State Community College and Lee University.
Banner coverage of the mayor’s final State of the City Address is being published in a series of four articles, which will conclude Monday. This is article No. 3. Rowland announced recently he will not seek re-election later this year.
“After years of anticipation and planning, construction has begun on the Candies Creek/Cherokee Elementary School,” Rowland told his audience Thursday. “This state-of-the-art school building will serve the rapidly growing area west of Interstate 75 for decades to come.”
He also praised the Cleveland Board Of Education, which is reaching out to the future through its BLADE (Blending Learning And Digital Enhancement) Project. Students are already using the Internet and technology to prepare for the digital world around them. Through the BLADE Project, the school board is purchasing 1,400 Dell Chromebook laptops for Cleveland Middle School students to use.
Plans call for laptops to be issued to Cleveland High School students this fall, and the school system is adding more Internet access to its classrooms.
“Building a new school and enhancing technology for students are just two of many ways city schools are preparing for the future,” continued the mayor. “Meanwhile our student population continues to grow. We started the 2017-2018 school year with a record 5,626 students.”
“Our two institutions of higher education continue to flourish and grow as well,” added Cleveland’s longtime mayor.
Lee University is celebrating its 100th year in 2018. It opened its new School Of Business in 2017, a development which represents the university’s continued south campus growth and an indication of how the School Of Business is expanding and attracting more students to the community.
Other south campus developments of the university this year include The Forum, an open space with a new clock tower, and Dirksen Row, a townhouse unit for women students. There were also additions to the Communications Arts Building and the School Of Nursing, bringing Lee students within walking distance of downtown.
Last summer a 1992 time capsule was opened at Cleveland State. Rowland said the contents brought back a lot of memories, and the items illustrate how much our world, and Cleveland State, have grown and changed in just 25 years.
He said the items likewise emphasize just how CSCC is still growing and changing. Beginning this fall, weekend classes will begin to help students with full-time weekday jobs to reach their education goals.
Rowland added that Tennessee Reconnect is coming to the campus in the fall of 2018, helping older students earn their certificates or work towards a degree — tuition free.
In 2017 CSCC was one of only three Tennessee community colleges to receive the Veterans Reconnect Grant to help veterans returning to the campus to pursue their education.
“We may not often think of Cleveland as a college town, but with our two thriving campuses, there are more than 10,000 college students in our city on any academic day,” the mayor pointed out.
Among the mayor’s top highlights was the growth and planning currently going in the city’s emergency services (police and fire).
“We are building the Cleveland Fire Department’s Station No. 6 on Westland Drive off APD-40 to serve the new industrial park and the future Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home, as well as the expected growth in the area,” emphasized the mayor.
“A new fire station also means adding firefighters and equipment when the building is ready,” he continued. He also pointed out that one of the department’s additions was named in his honor. “During our 175th anniversary celebration, the department introduced its newest fire apparatus, Quint 6. The name comes from the word “quintuple,” meaning five. That’s because this apparatus brings five different capabilities to an emergency scene,” he said.
Rowland said the City/County 911 Board recently saw a need for a backup emergency communications center. That backup center is now installed inside the Cleveland Police Department, and ready as needed.
“Our Police and Fire departments continue to expand their already active community outreach efforts,” said the mayor. “During the past year, both departments held community events. During Career Showcase events, the public learned about the missions of each. Potential recruits were encouraged to explore how to become a city police officer or firefighter, and dozens of children learned more about police officers during last summer’s Youth Police Academy.”
“There is much we can say proudly say about our emergency responders,” Rowland continued. “Let me just highlight two examples. Last summer all of them quickly responded to an Amber Alert for a missing 10-year-old girl. City, county and state officers banded together, found the child and returned her to her family. Then just a day later, they all reassembled for another Amber Alert. A five-year-old had wandered into some woods and was found safely in an hour and a half. This is the kind of ‘City With Spirit’ we are.”
Another highlight this year was the special events held in the city, for city residents. “Last summer Cleveland added more events to the year-round calendar of good times,” said the mayor.
The First Friday Festivals downtown took place on the First Friday evening of the month in June, July and August. Hundreds came out to hear live music, sample the food from local vendors and just relax. First Fridays were organized by MainStreet Cleveland, Allied Arts Council Of The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber Of Commerce and funded by Wacker. “How’s that for a great partnership?” added the mayor.
He pointed out that the Halloween Block Party, turned 30 this year.
The city marked its 175th year with special events. Many came to a free public concert at Lee University’s Pangle Hall featuring the renowned Voices Of Lee and Cleveland’s own American Idol finalist Jermaine Purifory.
That was followed by an ice cream and cupcake party at the Greenway Park, featuring the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the city’s official band. Rowland was allowed me to direct the Pops in Cleveland’s official song, John Phillip Sousa’s “The Diplomat.”
At the close of the city’s 175th anniversary year, the city offered another new way for people to interact. Photographers were invited to seek out interesting and “picturesque” scenes.
It was the first Capture Cleveland photography contest, and 60 participants took part. Winners received checks or gift cards supplied by a host of local sponsors. The city partnered with Cleveland Workspace to provide a Gallery where the public could enjoy these creative efforts.
Cleveland Workspace provides just what the name says, a workspace located at The Old Woolen Mill for local artists. It’s one of the unique ways the historic mill building is being transformed into a new downtown landmark.
(Editor’s note: Mayor Rowland’s conclusion and fourth article of this year’s State of the City Address will be published Monday in the Banner. it will include comments on city outreach efforts and the multitude of accolades received by Cleveland in 2017.)