At Westerville's annual State of the Community address, several city leaders took the opportunity to share their thoughts on 2015 and the future.

At Westerville's annual State of the Community address, several city leaders took the opportunity to share their thoughts on 2015 and the future.

While most remarks from the five guest speakers -- introduced by Council Chairman Craig Treneff -- reflected on positive accomplishments last year, a portion of each leader's address looked forward.

City Manager David Collinsworth lauded new projects in the city's Uptown district, discussed construction and talked about park expansion. He also used some of his time to make an appeal to voters to approve the proposed fire levy on the March 15 ballot.

"Economic factors over the last six years contributed to a shortfall in revenues, but the city kept its promise in 2010 of not returning to voters with a levy request for six years," he said. "Deferring some capital expenditures and eliminating four full-time positions has helped us along, but the needs continue to grow."

School board president Richard Bird focused largely on assessment scores and other district measurables.

Although he said he was pleased with most scores, he admitted "missing the mark" on the American Government portion of testing and offered an explanation.

"We've done our due diligence and believe students scored lower on this exam because it was not required for graduation and did not carry similar repercussions as would poor performance on other exams," he said. "Regardless, we have a strong social studies curriculum and believe it's unacceptable for our students not to exceed the state average on this exam."

Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce President Janet Tressler-Davis said the chamber's membership, accounting for 16,700 employees, is strong, and the organization would work to build partnerships to continue to grow.

"We have now and will continue to have open dialogue with our school district, Otterbein University and Columbus State (Community College)," she said. "Making sure we have students and candidates that are equipped with the skill sets to match the jobs of today's businesses is essential to the success of our economy."

Karen Albury, deputy director of the Westerville Public Library, discussed the library's membership and increased profile of its guests, including authors Gillian Flynn and Mitch Albom and former NBA star and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Otterbein University President Kathy Krendl finished the program, talking about the school's new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math Innovation Center, which was unveiled last week.

"Otterbein has long understood the value of talented, inquisitive, diverse students," she said. "This new generation will embrace and thrive in the innovative environment the STEAM initiative offers."

For the full address video, visit westerville.org.

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