Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2014
Olathe is happy and healthy, mayor reports in State of the City
By JENNIFER BHARGAVA
Special to The Star
Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland described the city as happy and financially healthy at his State of the City address last week at the Hilton Garden Inn.
“I’m proud to say that Olathe is a healthy community,” Copeland told the crowd on March 7. “That means we’re paying attention to our financial stability. We’re environmentally strong. We’re engaged in civic and social connectedness that is absolutely critical to our long-term success as a city.”
Residents appear to agree, according to the recent results of the annual Direction Finder citizen survey.
The annual Direction Finder survey showed a 92 percent satisfaction rate for city services, compared to an average satisfaction rate of 57 percent nationally and 54 percent in the metro area, the mayor said.
In addition, 74 percent of Olathe residents report satisfaction with the value they receive for their tax dollars. The national average is 45 percent and the metro is 40 percent.
Copeland also said the city received an economic boost in the past year thanks to 1.25 million square feet of new commercial development. As a result, almost 2,000 jobs were created or retained and the city saw more than $85 million in economic development, he said.
The mayor also described changes that are coming for Olathe.
The new 71,000-square-foot community center opens in July. Google Fiber is installing its infrastructure throughout the city. And groundbreaking for the new Embassy Suites hotel and conference Center is set for April 3.
Cathedral Builder Awards
Also at the State of the City address, Copeland introduced the recipients of this year’s Cathedral Builder Awards, Curtis and Marge Smith and Paul and Connie Cunningham.
The Cunninghams are credited with helping to launch MidAmerica Nazarene University. They helped the small college open its doors in 1968 with 263 students. Within 20 years it became the largest private college in the state of Kansas.
The couple led College Church, adjacent to the university campus, for several decades.
The late Curtis Smith became MidAmerica Nazarene’s first president in 1968. He and his wife, Marge, helped build the university and became prominent community leaders in the process.
“The story of Olathe and the university are woven together because we have always shared the same values,” said David Spittal, the president of MidAmerica Nazarene University, after the address. “We are extremely proud of the award winners. The Smiths are legends on campus and the Cunninghams have been visionaries their entire lives. They are all incredibly inspiring.”