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Monday, Mar. 11, 2013

State of Olathe is bright, mayor tells city

Special to The Star

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It’s a great time to live in Olathe, Mayor Michael Copeland said in his State of the City address last week.

Copeland used the annual speech on March 1 at the Holiday Inn conference center to announce that a developer wants to build a new conference hotel in the city and to say that Olathe is in great shape.

He encouraged the audience to tweet throughout the speech, saying that one of the reasons Olathe is doing so well is because the city embraces technology to communicate with residents.

Copeland pointed out that using the Internet to engage residents in the budget process, spreading news over social media and conducting the annual citizen survey to document progress all allows Olathe to develop a more intimate relationship with its community.

The city also remains fiscally responsible, Copeland said.

While many cities are still struggling with the aftermath of the recession, Olathe is keeping its head above water.

“None of us know if the economy is out of the woods yet,” Copeland said. “But we do know that being fiscally prudent during the heyday and in uncertain times has positioned Olathe for a brighter future as the economy improves.”

That bright future, he added, is not limited to the budget.

More and more businesses are choosing to call Olathe home, adding more jobs and revenue into the city.

Plus, residents will soon be able to enjoy a new community center. The facility, which broke ground in December, will have a pool, gym, event rooms and other amenities.

Downtown Olathe will also have a new look next month when the Santa Fe streetscape project is finished.

But the most important aspect of Olathe is its residents, the mayor emphasized. He reminded the audience that over the last holiday season, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund raised more than $100,000 thanks to generous donations from the community.

“Olathe is full of people who are eager to give back, to make this a better place for kids, for people who are disabled, for those in need — for every one of us who resides in this wonderful community,” Copeland said. “Once people buy into our brand, they become the brand. That’s what sells Olathe to a company looking for a home.”

He ended the address by revealing that a developer plans to build an upscale hotel and conference center at Kansas 10 and Ridgeview Road. He encouraged the audience to let that breaking news be their final tweet about the address.

Most of the audience members left the State of the City address with smiles. One of them was Frank Devocelle, the president and CEO of Olathe Health System, who was honored during the address with the Cathedral Builder award.

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