2009 Was A Very Good Year for Clayton
Mayor Jody McLeod looks back at 2009 and the progress made
With the year quickly winding to a close, this is a good time to look back at 2009 and the progress we've made as one of the state's brightest up-and-coming municipalities.
Despite the harsh economic climate, Clayton had a solid year, one of the best in recent memory.
Here's a brief look at some of the milestones:
Ranking in the nation's top 10: By now, you probably know that BusinessWeek Magazine has ranked Clayton the tenth best town in the nation for affordability and quality of schools. That's an awesome honor, and we should all feel quite proud. We earned it by making the right decisions and doing the right things over a period of years, and all of us are a part of it.
Top 10 ranking for the US 70 Clayton Bypass: In addition to being ranked among the nation's top 10 highway projects, the bypass was up for the country's top two transportation awards. It won a regional award, and was named a "NC Scenic Byway." Almost forgotten in all this glory is that it eased the load of traffic through town, which has equated to fewer traffic accidents and citations. More than one person has told me they enjoy driving around town again.
Our first hospital: The year 2009 will be a date that our children and grandchildren will have to memorize in school some day, because it's the year that Johnston Medical Center-Clayton opened. Yes, it's that big. A town moves to a new level when it gets a hospital.
Improved financial rating: At a time when you would least expect it, Clayton received an upgrade in its financial rating from the nations two top rating agencies, moving us into some elite company. This is a major accomplishment that will save the town a ton of money moving forward. We were lauded for both our financial strength and our professionalism--and that's enough to make any Mayor proud.
Another Finance Department award: Our Finance Department won the financial world's highest honor in Financial Reporting again this year. That's eight in a row. Wow!
Holding the tax rate: We had to scale back a little to do it, but we managed to hold the line on taxes again this year, largely by holding the line on our spending. We're being impacted by the harsh economy, just like everybody else, but we're doing our best to hold things together without putting an additional burden on taxpayers.
Our first public art: We unveiled our first public art this year, a mural of town scenes called "Clayton Patchwork" on an upstairs wall of The Clayton Center. And that's just the start. We've got another public art project in the works for the Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library.
Police Department Accreditation: The Clayton Police Department moved into some elite company this year, becoming the only law enforcement agency in Johnston County to earn full accreditation. The unanimous decision by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) moves the Department into the top-tier of law enforcement agencies across the country, joining just over 700 worldwide who have earned the honor. In addition, work is slated to begin next year on a new Law Enforcement Center downtown that will give the Department more room and better facilities.
Downtown Historic District: The National Register Advisory Committee recently made a formal recommendation for the Clayton Historic District, moving it just one step away from reality. If approved by the US Interior Department, the District will be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which brings with it some tax advantages for downtown buildings.
Downtown Concert Series: Once again our series of monthly concerts on Town Square drew hundreds downtown each week, helping to build an alive central business district. Add to that the many other events and initiatives during the year, and it's easy to understand why the downtown area continues to make great strides.
As you can see, we've had quite a lot to be proud of this year, and I haven't even mentioned the success of the new Farmers Market, our support of Hospice House, the excellent series of shows and concerts at The Clayton Center and a dozen more things. But, I'm running out of room.
This is Clayton, and we're all a part of it.