St. Joseph Mayor Delivers State of the City Address

Published 02/14 2014 01:25PM

Updated 02/14 2014 08:56PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A packed room at Holiday Inn greeted St. Joseph mayor Bill Falkner as he took the stage for his annual State of the City address.

The event is the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce's St. Joe Rising program for the season.

Mayor Falkner begins by reminding the crowd that St. Joseph was recently recognized by the Conference of Mayors as seventh in the top 10 fastest growing economies.

"This kind of recognition doesn't happen overnight," Mayor Falkner said.  "It takes hard work, dedication, and partnerships to see things through.  But it also takes the trust of the public.  I think this council, city staff, and the people in this room have done a remarkable job earning their trust."

The biggest applause of the address came when Mayor Falkner praised the leadership of the 139th Airlift Wing.

A standing ovation greeted high ranking members of the Missouri Air National Guard.

"The 139th plays a vital role in the economy of St. Joseph," Falkner said.  "It's exciting to see all the possibilities open up for this unit.  It's great to see the 139th partner with Missouri Western [State University] working on different projects together."

The mayor was not shy about his views on the proposed smoking ban for the city, which he called a property owner's rights issue.

"Many business owners are understandably worried what a smoking ban will do to their business," Falkner said.  "I feel this council made the right decision that if we are going to take the rights away from business owners that it be done by a vote of their community."

The ordinance, which was sponsored by Smoke Free St. Joe, will go to voters in April.

City council candidate Mary Attebury from Smoke Free St. Joe admits she disagrees with the mayor's stance.

"It's simply not a property rights issue, it just isn't," Attebury said.  "It's purely a public health issue.  It's about the safety and health of the people who patronize those places and the workers who work within them."

Falkner also made points to praise Missouri Western State University, and added goals to improve the city's sewers, streets, and downtown district.

The mayor's position is up for election this year in April as well, but it was recently announced that he will run unopposed.

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