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Superior residents filled the YellowJacket Union Great Room on Tuesday evening to hear Mayor Jim Paine give his first State of the City address, the first of its kind in Superior since 2010. The speech was a laundry list of accomplishments relayed quickly to the audience of many dozen, that ended in him awarding his first Citizen of the Year award.
“I told you that I would move my city forward” Paine began. “I told you during this campaign that we are in this together,” he continued, saying that the progress of Superior is made up of all of its residents. “I need your help to move this city forward.”
He said that although the best parts of Superior have been enjoyed by many residents, they haven’t accessible to everyone. He said he has been advocating for pedestrians, because every single citizen is a pedestrian at some point. This has cumulated in increased funding for sidewalk improvement. The city has also made room for bike lanes on Belknap Street and are working toward beginning a bike share program.
There was a lot to talk about in the way of public safety. Paine said that public safety is more than investing money into police and fire staff, but a culture of safety requires better training on crisis intervention and biases. This spring the police department replaced their mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP) with a smaller civilian emergency vehicle as a part demilitarizing the police department. Paine called the MRAP unnecessary, expensive and inefficient.
Paine highlighted that Superior hired its first African-American police officer this past year. The city also created the Mayor’s Commission on Communities of Color in February.
Housing has been an ongoing problem in Superior, so Paine convened a housing task-force to try and solve problems such as aging housing stock. Over the next five years the city is investing $4 million annually to a home rehab program. They are also looking to hire a housing coordinator to help restore properties and to advocate for affordable housing.
Paine finished his speech by giving a symbolic key to the city to Barb Certa-Wener, whom he proclaimed to be Citizen of the Year. This award is to go to a non-elected official who has improved the lives of people in Superior. Certa-Werner is the executive director of Harbor House Crisis Shelter. Harbor House offers emergency and transitional housing to woman and children in Douglas County.
Explosions at Cooper Elementary
Several gas explosions took place at the new Cooper Elementary School in Billing’s Park. The new building was still under construction. School was still held on Monday because the current Cooper Elementary used different gas line, though another fire flared up at the new building during the school day.
“Much is unknown days after the incident,” wrote principal Aaron Lieberz. “Investigators have to determine the cause of the original fire. Once that is complete, insurance adjusters will have to complete their own investigation. Once the dust settles, clean up and repairs will begin. I do not have any information as to the timeline or the amount of damage at this point. We will work closely with Kraus-Anderson during this process and overcome this setback.”