Following the pandemic, the “new normal” in Statesville is in full swing. While zoom meetings are hardly a thing of the past, more and more meetings are live and in person. At times, it is overwhelming how much is going on, both in city government and in the city at large.

Again, I want to start with nothing but praise for our entire staff. We are over 500 persons strong — their daily dedication and leadership provide the nucleus for our vibrant and growing community. Not only do they do their daily jobs conscientiously and competently, but also they constantly look for ways to deliver municipal services more efficiently. Multiple leadership positions were filled this year with current employees, confirming our desire to have succession plans in place where possible. Together with leadership additions from outside our organization, we are staffed with strong and capable employees from top down.

Our 2023 municipal elections brought Lisa Pearson as a new member of council. We welcome her and look forward to her ideas as we continue to thrive as a city. We get to focus entirely in 2024 on non municipal elections, but 2025 will be an interesting election year locally, as I anticipate the landscape of local city leaders could change yet again. I hope voter turnout will improve over this year’s turnout.

Public construction projects abound! Woodard Fire Station is nearing completion, utility projects are in various stages of development, our multi-phased warehouse and garage rebuild is well underway and an expanded police department is not far behind. Several airport projects, including a beautiful new terminal building, will further brighten this crown jewel of Statesville.

I do not believe the city has ever made as great a commitment to expansion of its own assets as we see right now. Thanks to our staff for their dedication in planning and implementing these needed additions. Thanks to our state and federal elected officials for securing much of the money needed to make these public projects possible.

We continue to experience the greatest residential and industrial growth in our long and storied history. As more and more folks move into Statesville, other sectors of the economy will flourish. Work at the Vance Hotel continues, and we approved a transformational project for 126 apartments adjacent to our police department, together with a parking deck which will serve the tenants, the SPD, Civic Center overflow and general public parking.

We live in a caring community — one that supports numerous not-for-profit organizations, each of which seeks to make life better for all of us. Statesville is much better as a result, I am especially proud that our employees and council members serve vital roles in many of these groups.

Our city government, by example, has sold property to Habitat for Humanity and has renewed its commitment to the Green Street / Garfield area by continuing its maintenance of the Green Street Cemetery, obtaining a study grant for the entire area and generally gaining awareness of the significance of this corridor to our city’s history. Our fire department is one of eight in North Carolina which is internationally accredited and holds the highest ISO rating. We completed our AMI installation, so every citizen can monitor electric and water use remotely. We created a social district and I am optimistic the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council will come to council this spring with an exciting “ask” and a great opportunity for all the young people here. The second Tourism Summit brought Chris Chung, CEO of Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, along with just over 250 tourism leaders from around the state and confirmed the need for, and the impact of, tourism as an economic development driver. The area has great destination spots and as more and more people visit Statesville, they learn what we already know — it is a great place to bel.

Our citizens are unique —they care, they share, they give, they support — they make the “Statesville Spirit” something very special and very real. Heck, we have the first Miss Statesville to become Miss North Carolina in history! And we will survive the fire loss in downtown as well. I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I am 100 percent enthusiastic that 2024 will be a great year here. 

Costi Kutteh is the mayor of Statesville.

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