The holiday season in Olathe is a time of great joy and celebration, and it’s a perfect time to express my gratitude for all you do to make our city one of the best places in America to call home.
Our city is among the most vibrant cities in the nation, and it truly shines at Christmas because of you and the gifts of the season you treasure most. They are the gifts of time, gratitude, generosity and compassion. Add to those the gifts of joy, service, hope, peace and brotherhood, and you have the gifts that define our community and reflect the values we share.
This year, I was reminded of the special gift of encouragement, which can be as simple as sharing a few kind words with a family member, neighbor, co-worker or friend. It can make all the difference, as the Olathe Northwest Ravens Football Team and Coach Chip Sherman demonstrated this summer at the “All-Star Showdown” on the Miracle League of Olathe adaptive baseball field. The Ravens organized the “Showdown” baseball game for Olathe youth with special needs, and football players from all Olathe high schools helped make it a success. They coached and encouraged the “Olathe All-Star” players, giving them the opportunity to play a team sport and experience the joy of baseball. Game proceeds will help finish the field and support special education programming in our schools.
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Our football players’ actions and teamwork not only helped make dreams come true on our Miracle League of Olathe field, but they exemplified the true spirit of our city. Their efforts represented the most meaningful gifts we can give and celebrate as a community — encouragement, kindness, hope and the joy of serving others. They are outstanding role models for all of us, helping us to never lose sight of what is most important, in sports and in life.
We are celebrating the gift of encouragement each day this season as we grow closer to reaching our $140,000 goal for the Olathe Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund. For years, the fund has supported local charities meeting the most critical needs of Olathe children and families, including food, health care, clothing and shoes, and school supplies. Every donation to the fund, no matter how small, represents a priceless gift of encouragement and hope to a hurting child or struggling family in need. I am so proud of the caring, giving hearts in our community, and I speak for every dedicated member of our Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund Board in saying thank you for your support.
As the year comes to a close, we can look back upon many accomplishments and honors affirming our status as a leader, both regionally and nationally. Our excellent quality of life was recently recognized by MSN, who named Olathe a Top 10 Most Desirable Mid-Size City to move to. MyLife ranked Olathe the seventh best Mid-Size City in which to raise children and the sixth safest City in America.
We continued to make progress on long-awaited projects and witnessed another record year for economic development since the recession. In fact, Olathe gained more commercial square footage and capital investment in 2014 than any other city in Johnson County.
In July, thousands attended the grand opening of Olathe’s beautiful new Community Center, offering quality wellness and recreation opportunities for residents of all ages and much-needed public meeting space.
We celebrated the completion of Santa Fe Streetscape enhancements, which form a gateway to downtown Olathe, creating a more beautiful, safe and pedestrian-family environment — all key components of our vision for downtown. The dedication of Civic Center Park in downtown Olathe reflects downtown as the center of civic life in our community and honors the service of six distinguished Olatheans who proudly served as state governors. Olathe is known as “The City of Governors,” and the plaques displayed in Civic Center Park commemorate their noble service to our community and state.
We broke ground in April for our new 200-room Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center — a first-class conference facility and landmark that will forever change the landscape and brand of our city. It’s the culmination of years of working together, planning and nurturing the kind of positive, growth-enriching environment that has brought high-quality development here and created a growing demand for a state-of-the-art conference center. The project remains on schedule, to be completed in the fall of 2015.
These are just a few highlights of 2014 — a year that’s remarkable for many reasons, but none more important than the involvement and support of our citizens. Together with my visionary colleagues on the city council and our exceptional city employees, we will continue to lead Olathe forward.
All of us on the city council are deeply grateful for the tremendous privilege of serving our great city. Your voice will always be most important as we work to support our residents’ and businesses’ highest priorities, maintain delivery of quality city services, and ensure that your local government is performance-driven, transparent, and accountable.
We wish you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays, and may your new year be filled with the hope and spirit of Christmas!
Mayor Michael E.
City of Olathe