WOODSTOCK – Displaying optimism for the coming years, city leaders put the spotlight on economic development during a State of the City luncheon that began with a tribute to the recently deceased Mr. Woodstock, Don Peasley.
Addressing a room of about 50 at Woodstock Country Club on Thursday afternoon, Mayor Brian Sager said the city is well-positioned to take on economic growth and noted successes of the past year as an indication that businesses are already turning its way.
“That is, one, because we have been responsible stewards as a collective community,” said Sager, who recently won unopposed re-election. “But two, that we also have been constantly taking advantage of chances to prepare our city for growth and development when it’s ready.”
Sager’s list of five priorities for the year includes two bullet points centered on his vision for growth: economic development – which he repeated three times for effect – and fostering an environment that facilitates business.
The city will consider adding incentives like short-term loans or revolving loans for new businesses, Sager and Community and Economic Development Director Cort Carlson said.
Sager added infrastructure, fiscal responsibility and planning a community-wide celebration to his list.
“I think we need to think to the future positively,” he said. “We need to think to the future with gratitude for what we’ve been able to accomplish during these difficult times.”
City Manager Roscoe Stelford echoed Sager’s optimism in his first public address since he took over the position May 1.
He said the city is in transition, as it sorts through applications for director of the Public Works and Finance departments.
But he looked forward to a couple of upcoming improvements in city services. City staff members are working out the kinks in a plan to make water bills payable online and establishing an online signup for recreation programs.
“We are moving more toward a 24/7 online presence to provide service for our residents,” Stelford said.
Before Sager started his speech, he spoke about Peasley, a longtime Woodstock resident and McHenry County historian and journalist. Sager said this was likely the first State of the City address he’d given without Peasley, who died early this month.
“Mr. Woodstock, Don Peasley,” Sager said after a short video clip played, showing a jovial Peasley during a recent interview. “Forever in our hearts.”