The holiday season is a time to reflect on the achievements of the passing year and to celebrate time with friends and loved ones. It's also a time to show support for those less fortunate than we are.
We are truly blessed to live in a community that helps one another during challenging times. Recently, some families in our community were affected by a fire.
Thankfully, no lives were lost, but these families lost many of their personal belongings. Recognizing the need, three area businesses -- AutoZone, Lind Automotive and Gahanna Hardware -- stepped up to help replace many of the items lost and provided services so that those affected would be able to resume some sense of normal life.
During the Dec. 18 council meeting, I recognized these businesses with my Lead by Example award for their willingness to step up and fill a need. For these businesses to go above and beyond is a testament to the kind of compassionate community we are blessed to be a part of.
It's been an exciting year for Gahanna as we've witnessed substantial progress in our city, including the completion of Hamilton Road Central, continued success with the Detroit subdivision street-rebuild program and the approval of a much-needed neighborhood park for the residents of the west side.
We also launched a new data-driven and responsive website to help enhance our customers' experience and led an initiative to establish the Gahanna Area Arts Council, an organization that is committed to promoting and cultivating the arts in our community.
Through a partnership with the Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District and our local businesses, we have made important progress on a workforce development initiative -- a partnership created to help prepare today's students for tomorrow's jobs. We also reaffirmed our commitment toward protecting our natural resources through a proclamation I signed, making Gahanna a pollinator-friendly city. Through a resolution adopted by our City Council, we were awarded the distinction of Bee City USA.
Thanks to Make Gahanna Yours and many other community organizations, we have been able to restore some treasured community traditions like Music in the Park and holiday decorations in our public spaces. And we also saw the "G" on our signature arch lit, thanks to CRT Realtors.
In the coming year, we will continue to make progress on our Detroit subdivision street-rebuild program, improve trail connectivity on the Big Walnut Trail, expand on our workforce development initiative, begin construction on the new park on McCutcheon Road and implement strategies to address traffic congestion on the west side of our city. We will begin work on creating a new brand for our city, one that residents and businesses will be proud to embrace and ultimately will help bring commercial real estate development to spur economic growth for Gahanna.
In 2018, there will be a new communitywide initiative that will be an all-inclusive collaborative effort among the city, school district, Gahanna Ministerial Association and the entire community to firmly establish and identify Gahanna as a compassionate and communicating community that cares about its vision, values and faith. More details about the exciting initiative will come in the new year.
We have much to be thankful for this year. I am especially grateful for the support of council and the efforts of a dedicated and hardworking city staff. Most of all, I am thankful to have your support and confidence to serve as your mayor. The success of our city lies in our ability to come together for a common purpose, which is to make Gahanna the best place to live, work, play, visit and shop. I look forward to working with each of you in the coming year.
From my family to yours, Happy Holidays.
Tom Kneeland is mayor of Gahanna.