Message from the Mayor:
Last week I traveled to Washington D.C. for the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting. A few days before the trip I was called by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs asking if I would be interested in coming to the White House in advance of the conference. On Wednesday, I attended the President and Vice President’s press conference on gun violence in our country, and had the opportunity to sit next to Blacksburg, Virginia Mayor Ron Rordom and Newton, Connecticut Selectwoman Patricia Llodra. Each of us represent cities which unfortunately have been impacted by horrific acts of violence, and this shared experience gives us the added responsibility of seeking out ways to make our communities safer.
At the Conference I sat down with a small group of Mayors (including Mayor Steven Ponto of Brookfield, WI) who know too well the impact of violence in our country, and we agreed to work on local initiatives designed to improve the mental health resources and funding available to our citizens. In the next few weeks we will put together some common sense, community-based ideas to provide local resources and outreach for any of our residents who feel they may have a family member who needs some assistance or counseling. I look forward to working with my peers to find local solutions to an issue that many in our country feel has grown to epidemic proportions. As we continue this discussion in our community on these important issues, I’ll continue to ask our residents to provide input and guidance to make a positive impact in our city, with community forums similar to the event we held on January 12th.
This past week, two long-time residents of our community passed away, both with significant legacies in the early history of our city. Thomas Stevenson Jr., the original band director at Oak Creek High School, and the creator of the Oak Creek Knights School song, died at the age of 85. After his retirement in 1988, he continued in his passion for music by playing and directing in the Wilson Knights Band. Mr. Stevenson was an inspiration for many in our community, and at the Common Council meeting on January 15th, I compared his career to that of the movie character Mr. Holland, from the “Mr. Holland’s Opus”. His positive outlook and his cheery “life is good” motto made him the favorite teacher of many students over the years.
Arthur H. Olson Jr., long-time School Business Administrator for the Oak Creek/Franklin School District, passed away on January 5th, at the age of 82. Mr. Olson, Oak Creek Citizen of the Year in 1988, oversaw the building of the high school, and several elementary schools during his tenure. He was a member of the Oak Creek Kiwanis Club for 40 years, and was active in many other civic and private organizations benefitting the community. I remember him as my next door neighbor when I grew up, and for his sense of humor and incredible wit. A memorial service will be held in Wisconsin in August in his honor.
On February 11th, we will hold a community open house for the Drexel Town Square development. I encourage all of our residents to attend and give us their thoughts on what they would like to see in our new city center, with a specific focus on smaller retail, restaurants, and civic components that will make this an exciting new downtown destination for Oak Creek.