November Willoughby Times Article:
The month of November and Thanksgiving welcomes the holiday season and this year we are especially thankful. Looking back on a challenging two years, I am amazed at the resiliency of our community, and I am proud of how we supported our local businesses and each other. I am also thankful to those city employees and directors who maintained the quality of services while working with reduced staff.
Willoughby’s Recreation Director, Judean Banker, maintained programming with facilities that were closed either because of the pandemic or due to the loss of seasonal staff. Her efforts were commendable. With the assistance of Shana Boyd and Amy Skolny, Judean conceived and organized events and celebrations throughout the year, re-opened our Senior Center, resumed our summer camps, and opened most of our recreation facilities. With Golf Course Manager Brian McCoy, Judean also developed new programs and events and increased revenue at our Lost Nation Golf Course.
Finance Director Diane Bosley, with Deputy Finance Director Cher Hoffman, did a masterful job of maintaining a fund balance despite a significant loss of income tax revenue. The Finance Department, working with City Council and its Finance and Personnel Committees also succeeded in addressing long-term liabilities to better ensure the City’s financial stability.
Willoughby’s safety forces, led by Police Chief Jim Schultz and Fire Chief Todd Ungar maintained their superior level of services though, as first responders, they were at high risk of COVID exposure. Our police department, while providing for the daily safety of our citizens was successful in quickly solving significant cases and our fire department dealt with major fire events and accidents with skill and professionalism. Both Police and Fire worked tirelessly to keep the council, administration, and our residents informed.
Law Director Mike Lucas continued to navigate through several ongoing legal issues while guiding our Boards and Commissions, City Council, and the Administration. With the help of Cheri Lory, our Law Department adopted and amended codes and ordinances, and resolved questions about contracts and agreements with clarity and precision.
Our Service Department, led by Rich Palmisano, oversaw several road construction projects, and managed to keep our city beautiful with greatly reduced seasonal and administrative staff. Service also began several important initiatives including the installation of energy-efficient lighting, replacement of critical equipment, and ongoing road improvements projects.
Darryl Keller and our Building Department helped manage a significant increase in construction activity and with our Zoning Code Inspector, Karen Brooks, oversaw our property maintenance program. Our Building Department is also actively pursuing ways to streamline our permit processes including online applications and payments.
Our economic development team, led by Tom Thielman, continues to pursue, and secure quality businesses for our community and he was pivotal in the successful sale of the former Union High School, a transformational project for our community. With Judean Banker, Tom has also been a driving force behind our Chagrin River Trail and Osborne Park initiatives.
I would especially like to thank the residents of Willoughby. You have shown remarkable resourcefulness, resiliency, and support for the administration, city council, and each other.