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The 'State of the City'

March 03, 1999

In an emotional moment toward the end of yesterday's program, Hagerstown Mayor Robert Bruchey II dedicated his 1999 State of the City address to his ailing father. The mayor had hoped that the elder Bruchey, a retired city police officer, would be well enough to attend.

But it wasn't to be, and as the son talked about the lessons his father taught him about character and fair play, he was doing more than taking a stroll down Memory Lane.

That's because the theme of this year's report was "Make Hagerstown a Priority" and there was no attempt by the mayor to sugarcoat the city's situation, or to underplay the community effort that will be needed for the city to progress.

The council is still working to shave down a $1.3 million gap between revenues and proposed expenses, to turn more citizens who rent property in the city into homeowners and to develop a new industrial park with its own minor league baseball stadium.

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None of this will happen without the help of organizations and individuals committed to the city's success, Bruchey said. In April, he said, he will call for more private investment in the Home Run Business Park, in hopes of convincing his counterparts of the county board to join the effort.

Bruchey also noted that the recent city-county plan to send some of the flow which had been going to the county sewer plant was really of more benefit to the county than the city. It is a gesture, Bruchey made clear, that the city is making, not because of there's an immediate payoff, but because of what it might lead to in the future.

The mayor also talked about the programs like the Neighborhoods First! initiative, which drew few residents to the first meeting held in the city's HotSpots area. Neighborhoods can't just themselves off from the rest of the city, he said, nor can people within a neighborhood isolate themselves from what's going on.

For those who craved details, a 22-page report on 1998 accompanied the presentation, but its message was the same: The city won't make progress unless a lot of people besides elected officials make it their priority.

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