Muskogee Mayor John Tyler Hammons announced his goals for Muskogee at his second State of the City address this morning, at a luncheon put on by the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce attended by over 300 business and community leaders.
Hammons' main goal was an education plan based off of 'Tulsa Achieves' - providing free college education to students who graduate in Muskogee County, and meet several guidelines (good grades, reside within the county, community service, etc.). "This is the next step [for Muskogee] to be competitive," he said. "Education is the only way to improve your way of life."
"Jobs and titles come and go, but your education is forever," he emphasized. He admitted that no funding mechanism had come to the surface yet, but encouraged public input to find the best plan.
He mentioned several other goals as well. He wants the City to implement environmentally friendly policies, such as switching some city vehicles to compressed natural gas, and setting an objective that by 2014 at least half of the paper used by the city be environmentally friendly. He also wants to see recycling programs expanded.
He called on the city council to form a Street Oversight Committee to, utilizing public input, work alongside the Public Works Department in prioritizing streets to be repaired. In addition, while praising recent steps taken towards making city government more open and accountable, he announced hope to "take [openness and accountability] a step further," by posting all proposed ordinances and resolutions on the city website before the council votes. He plans to bring this up to the council soon.
Hammons also wants to see the City assist renters buy homes, through grants to help with down-payments.
He spent the rest of his address discussing various highlights from the past year.
- No murders in Muskogee since August 2007 (ironically, a Tulsa World article in 2006 called Muskogee "Oklahoma's killing field", after statistics showed that Muskogee had a high rate of murders per 100,000 people; the article came at a time when Tulsa's murder rate was skyrocketing)
- Crime rate cut by 50% since 1995
- Muskogee EMS first in state to provide flu shots to the elderly and homebound
- Growth in building permits issued
- Least (1st) expensive transportation costs in nation, when compared with cities of relative size
- 4th lowest housing costs in nation, when compared with cities of relative size
- 12th lowest cost of living in nation, when compared with cities of relative size
- 35% increase of events at Civic Center (2010 events to include the Harlem Globetrotters, and the ESPN Bass Elite Tournament)