With 2017 just hours away, The Madison Courier turned to local leaders for their thoughts on the new year. Familiar faces in government, education, religion and service organizations responded to the open-ended question: What are your hopes for 2017?
- Damon Welch, Mayor of the City of Madison: “I think in order to be able to look forward at 2017, we need to look back at all the great work that happened in 2016 and before that. Envision Jefferson County gave Madison a kick start, America’s Best Communities has taken us to the next level, and the Comprehensive Plan adopted by our City Council in 2016 will help take us even higher in 2017. My priorities for 2017 include improving our quality of place, growing and improving our work force (which includes tackling the substance abuse issue), and continuing to provide the best trash, water, police/fire protection services we can. I think 2017 has the potential to be a stellar year for Madison, and I’m excited to work with the City Council and our community to make it happen.”
- Trevor Jones, Southwestern Schools superintendent: “My hope is that the Indiana General Assembly will develop a new system of accountability that fairly and equitably evaluates teachers, assesses student achievement, and drives professional development. Furthermore, the data must be delivered in a timely manner to allow for proper adjustments in instruction and remediation to promote success.”
Ginger Studebaker-Bolinger, Madison Consolidated Schools superintendent: “Our hopes for 2017 are that our community will continue to support our students and our schools with their generous financial support through donations and scholarships; that we will continue to expand our excellent student programming to include additional opportunities for state, national and global experiences; and that we will continue to be transparent with community stakeholders and fiscally responsible for taxpayers. My hope is that we will also be able to gather support to make our facilities safe and functional for students and staff.”
Joyce Imel, outgoing president of the Madison Consolidated Schools board of trustees: “I would like for us to resolve and move forward in facilities planning. We need to make a giant leap to improve (buildings) and provide a safe and clean learning environment for the children. I hope we will continue to make headway with programming for all students. We have really stepped up to get (programs for) students who aren’t college bound. We’ve really sparked their interest. I hope we continue strengthening those programs.”
At the January meeting, the school board will select a new president for 2017. After a year of serving in this capacity, Imel had some advice for her successor:
“Put the children first. With every leadership decision, keep the focus on the children and do not be swayed by negativity. There is a lot of negativity against some of our administrators. Keep that focus; work hard, study heard. It’s an awful lot of reading. Be well prepared and attend every possible professional development opportunity you can.”
Molly Dodge, The Clearinghouse: “In 2017 I think my biggest hope is for ‘opportunity.’ I hope employers will have opportunities to employ our clients, including our Rita Works graduates and work-release offenders earning their Manufacturing Production Worker certification within Madison Correctional Unit. I hope many in our community will seize opportunities to earn their high-school equivalency diploma, enter college or earn a certification to qualify them for a better job and careers with local employers.
“I hope the Clearinghouse partners can continue to provide opportunities to help our clients overcome barriers to employment such as: child care vouchers, mental health services, domestic-violence prevention services, financial literacy and food and supplies. I hope our volunteers will continue to view the Clearinghouse as an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on our community. If given the opportunity, families, volunteers and funders can work together to make a positive difference in our community.”
Lake Lambert, Hanover College president: “I wish for a strong entering class in the fall, a great start to our new engineering program, success for all of our 2017 graduates, and new opportunities to partner with our friends in Madison and Jefferson County.”
Kenny Garrett, Hanover Town Council president: “We’re definitely going to be seeking more grants for sewer lines in town,” Garrett said of needed improvements. After failing to earn a grant earlier in 2016, Garrett said the council will stay on that track in hopes for another opportunity. Plans to upgrade the fleet of police vehicles and trucks for employees are also in the works.
Garrett also said the council would continue efforts to better enforce town ordinances and “get things cleaned up.”
“And we’re working with the College on a lot of projects,” he said of the council’s talks with Hanover College. Garret said he hopes the area might evolve into more of college town, “rather than Hanover and the College.”
Phil Kahn, Prince of Peace Catholic Schools president: “We hope that 2017 is a year full of joy and prosperity for our country, our Madison community and all of our schools. We pray for our youth of today so that we can continue to lead them in a positive direction toward their future. Let’s work on this together so that we can all watch the youth of today grow and succeed.”
Father Chris Craig, pastor of Prince of Peace Catholic Church and schools: “I pray that in the year 2017, all people will feel loved. Love and respect for one another is the answer to our society’s problems. We must see one another: white, black, Christian, Muslim, young, old, gay, straight, etc. as brothers and sisters. Jesus, the teacher, said ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ His love was sacrificial. May our love be a sacrificial love for one another in the New Year.”