Posted Wednesday, January 31, 2024.

Mayor Looks to More Ahead in Annual ‘State of the City’

HUNTINGTON – In his annual State of the City remarks to City Council members, Mayor Richard Strick reconfirmed a strong commitment to serving our families, friends and neighbors who make Huntington home – referring to it as a “sacred” duty and “highest ideal”.

“We know that life together is difficult. We know that self-government is challenging. We know the temptation of competing agendas. But we also know that we are up to the task of working together to leave this city better than we found it to our children and grandchildren,” Mayor Strick said Tuesday evening.

The mayor gave due credit to a team of city leaders that is committed to growing in their effectiveness as public servants. Entering 2024 with the start of a new four-year term, he noted that city staff is positioned to “do more and do it better” because it is now fully staffed across all departments.

Equipping city employees with the tools, training and accountability to do the work well and return home safely at the end of their shifts will continue to be a key focus.

“I am grateful to work alongside a City Council that understands and often leads the way in ensuring our staff is competitively compensated for their work,” Mayor Strick said.

Mayor Strick continued his address by highlighting the successes and accomplishments each city department worked toward in 2023.

The Huntington Fire Department responded to 1,473 calls in 2023, 72 percent of which were medical runs. The department looks forward to receiving a new engine later this year and will begin planning and preparations to pursue opening a new station within the next three years.

The Huntington Police Department continued strengthening its relationships throughout the Huntington community. Investments in training and equipment to better protect the community included rolling out body-worn camera systems and participating in the Flock License Plate Reader program to highlight vehicles previously flagged for outstanding offenses.

Public Works and Engineering Services kept major construction projects on schedule, including the Long-Term Control Plan’s final three phases and Phase I and II infrastructure for the new Riverfork West Industrial Park.

Community Development and Redevelopment engaged the public in a Destination Downtown Master Planning to guide the city’s efforts in improving downtown. The department permitted construction projects in 2023 valued at a total of $20.5 million while also permitting the construction of 29 new single-family homes.

The Street Department maintains the city’s 95 miles of streets and 25 miles of paved alleys, coming in at all hours to ensure streets remain clear and safe to travel.

City Utilities worked closely with the Street and Engineering departments to improve the City’s water and wastewater systems. In 2023, City Utilities oversaw surveying for 32 miles of water mains, finding and repairing 23 hidden leaks that were costing city ratepayers more than $54,000 annually.

Parks and Recreation maintains 186 acres of public parks while providing creative programming to engage residents of all ages. More than 1,000 attendees attended 2023’s Daddy-Daughter Dances and Mother-Son Extravaganza. About 250 volunteers helped celebrate the grand opening of Evergreen Park’s new arboretum, and the summer SPARK day camp program hosted more than 1,500 kids.

City Communications launched an overhauled city-county website early in 2023. Residents reported more than 150 issues around Huntington through a new mobile 311 app called Huntington Connect that the city addressed. Enrollment with the city’s weekly digital newsletter increased steadily (up 10.8 percent from 2022), as did the following of the city’s social media pages (up 9 percent).

Looking ahead to 2024, Mayor Strick anticipates a busy and productive year for Huntington.

“As the second largest city in Northeast Indiana, I’m not content – we can and will do better as we keep investing our lives in this community,” he said.

  • The Destination Downtown Master Planning process will guide public investments in access to the Little River, repurposing older buildings, launching new business ventures and improving traffic flow.
  • The city will move forward on planning and design for the second phase of infrastructure at Riverfork West. Teijin Automotive is set to begin operations at the new plant this year, while joint efforts continue to recruit the new industrial park’s next client.
  • A local board is forming to lead efforts to launch a south side grocery store and open up new economic opportunities for Huntington residents and neighbors.

Among other priorities, Mayor Strick said the city will remain diligent in working with partners to build more and better housing, expand childcare access, improving utility services and creating more transportation options while redoubling its efforts to get accurate and timely information to residents.

“Let us take up the work of serving alongside one another as we seek to make Huntington the city we are all proud to call ‘home,’” Mayor Strick said to close his State of the City remarks.

Watch Mayor Strick's 'State of the City' Address Below