Mayor Michael Copeland Wishes All a Merry Christmas
It’s my favorite time of year, when our community comes together to celebrate family, friends, and the most wonderful gifts of the holiday season. Each Christmas, I encourage you to ponder the gifts that are most treasured and meaningful – the gifts of our time, gratitude, generosity, compassion, and joy. I invite you to reflect upon the gifts of service, hope, peace, encouragement, and community – all gifts we are blessed to find in abundance in Olathe.
As our diverse and vibrant city continues to grow, we see the gift of unity becoming ever more precious and meaningful. Now more than ever, it’s our community’s unifying spirit that keeps us focused on what’s most important. By sharing the gift of unity, we break down the barriers that divide and separate us and find the common ground that brings us together.
We were so fortunate to recognize an outstanding group of residents and organizations again this year during Olathe’s 13th Annual Community Awards Program presented by our Human Relations Commission and Persons With Disabilities Advisory Board. Over the years, these awards have honored many champions for unity – leaders with unwavering passion for fostering appreciation and harmony among the diverse groups in our community. They are the role models and mentors who inspire us to advocate for equality, celebrate the differences and contributions of all citizens, and look after the most vulnerable.
Our commitment to Olathe’s most vulnerable – our children – has unified our community and allowed us to accomplish amazing things for our children and families in need. Because of compassionate, giving hearts united across our city, the Olathe Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund will reach $1 million raised for local charities since 2007. We are celebrating this incredible milestone because of your spirit of unity and support for the vital organizations who serve Olathe kids.
The past year has been a challenging one for those who serve in law enforcement, and I am so proud of how united Olatheans are in demonstrating their love and respect for our Police Department. It’s been so rewarding to see your outpouring of encouragement and support for the brave men and women who serve and protect our community, making Olathe one of the top ten safest cities in America.
Our Police Department outreach programs are also promoting unity and greater understanding between the Police and Olathe citizens. These initiatives include new National Night Out neighborhood activities in partnership with the Human Relations Commission and community forums sponsored with the Citizens Police Advisory Council. Three forums held this year, including a teen forum for Olathe youth, offered participants the opportunity to learn about Police operations and engage in open dialogue on current and emerging issues. Our new “Coffee With a Cop” events at Olathe restaurants are allowing residents to enjoy informal conversations with individual officers.
Ensuring your safety and high quality of life remains our top priority, and our annual DirectionFinder citizen surveys continue to affirm your satisfaction and confidence in our efforts. Olathe is number one in our region for overall quality of City services and customer service, and more than eight out of ten residents are happy with the value of services received for their tax dollars. Our success is made possible by your remarkable City employees, who are united in their dedication to excellence and to serving you with the utmost professionalism and pride.
We have much to be thankful for, including exceptional schools, a growing economy, and exciting new projects on the horizon. We’ve celebrated the ongoing expansion of Olathe Medical Center, the groundbreaking for GARMIN’s new facilities, and the opening of Menards, the KDC Data Center, and the Main Event family entertainment center. We’re watching renovations at the corner of 135th Street and Mur-Len transform the Santa Fe Square shopping center.
Our community continues to attract more jobs and investment, including the addition of nearly 2 million square feet of new warehouse/distribution space in the I-35 and Lone Elm interchange area.
The new year promises more progress on redevelopment plans for Cedar Lake and Lake Olathe, the Meadow Lane trail, and our new Public Art Master Plan.
We can also look forward to the unique opportunities ahead to enhance Olathe Library services. The City’s purchase of the former Hy-Vee building at 135th and Brougham for the future Indian Creek Library will allow us more space to develop state-of-the-art library programs.
We will always seek ways to improve and serve you better, keeping your local government accessible, accountable, and performance driven. Our new, mobile-friendly City website offers you more ways to connect and communicate with us. Its customer-focused design features action icons, advanced search features, and areas for photos submitted by our residents.
You’ll soon be hearing more about What Works Cities, which is partnering our city with global experts to share best practices for using data and performance analytics to engage residents and enhance our service delivery. Olathe is one of only 55 cities selected for the Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities initiative since its launch in April, 2015.
The accomplishments of the past year are a tremendous testimony to our successful partnerships and collaboration. They are also an affirmation of the gift of unity we share and the common vision we have cast for our future.
I speak for all of us on the City Council in saying thank you for your support, investment, and service to our community. Together, we are building the foundation for an ever stronger, more unified city.
With grateful hearts, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy new year!
Mayor Michael E. Copeland
City of Olathe