By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
Calling the city he governs “self-sufficient and in good shape,” Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney gave the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce his “State of the City” address Tuesday.
In his remarks during the luncheon meeting at the Corbin Center, McBurney highly touted several departments, including police, fire, public works, and recreation.
He also had a wish list for the city, in the the form of a new fire and rescue truck, along with a bigger building in the future for the Corbin Recycling Center.
Two city employees — the City’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Administrator, Clara Patterson; and Administrative Assistant Dianne Lay — were mentioned and lauded for the special work and role they play in making Corbin tick.
And McBurney took time to salute all the city’s employees for their hard work and loyalty to city government.
“We’ve had an audit, and we’re sound. And it will be announced at next week’s meeting. Business-wise, we just have to manage and be frugal. With our good management and dedicated employees, we’ll manage. …I’ve managed hundreds of employees, but this group of people in the City of Corbin are the best I’ve managed,” he said.
With several key city employees and department heads in attendance, McBurney gave those attending a little history lesson about the city, and its importance to the Tri-County region.
“Within a five-mile radius, we serve over 35,000 people in a three-county area,” said the Mayor, in reference to the regional role Corbin provides in commerce, education, medical care and transportation.
McBurney mentioned the city will purchase three-to-five new vehicles this year for the Corbin Police Department, adding the purchases would either be bought or leased. More training of officers, and the purchasing of new police vests were also mentioned in his address, as was the remodeling of police headquarters this year.
“We’ve turned it around to where they’re well-trained, and one of the finest in the state,” he noted.
Reminding the audience the Corbin Fire Department is the only full-time firefighting force along I-75 from Richmond to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the mayor said the big item needed for the firefighters and rescuers would be a new truck.
“If it’s possible (we want) a new, smaller fire and rescue truck, which will cost about $183,000. Our first responders do a lot for us,” McBurney stated.
While praising both firefighters and police officers, he brought out two other departments that he said play a pivotal role in Corbin’s quality of life.
“Police and fire are the ones you see, but our unsung heroes are the City Works Department and our Parks and Recreation Department. You leave out our city works people for a week and you’ll see what happens,” said McBurney.
From trash collection to working on infrastructure, the city’s public works people were given high fives by the mayor during the luncheon, as were improvements in the city’s parks and recreation people and services.
“We’re wanting to put a splash pad over by the swimming pool next year, and upgrade baseball fields at Miller Park, and improve our Soccer League. It’s (a department) hard to budget, because the needs are day to day,” McBurney pointed out.
Saying the Corbin Recycling Center on South Main has outgrown its current building, he mentioned the recycling efforts have greatly expanded.
“Over the last year, recycling has doubled. We need to be off Main Street and (get recycling) into a bigger building,” announced McBurney.
Looking at the city’s downtown that’s been awash in remodeling and renovations, Corbin’s mayor mentioned the improvements go beyond the city’s center.
“We have some new business on Main Street, including some new restaurants. Our Main Street is viable, and people are coming downtown. And the U.S. 25W ramp project on Exit 25 that’s going on now will be finished in August.”
Towards the end, McBurney gave recognition to the Corbin Independent Schools district, saying “We’re blessed to have a school system that rates consistently in the Top 10,” as well as to Baptist Health-Corbin hospital, who’s CEO, Larry Gray and key hospital officials and staff were in attendance at the luncheon.
Reminding the audience that all departments of the city come together as parts of one, he stated the most important part of Corbin is a common goal for everyone.
“The main goal of the city is to create a better quality of life for our citizens,” said McBurney.