GARLAND — As Garland nears its 106th birthday, the town has attempted to undergo a sort of rebirth in its most recent year through revitalization projects and economic development efforts — that now includes a revamped website.
Garland Mayor Winifred Murphy, in advertising the new page at www.townofgarlandnc.com, also reflected on 2012 and looked forward to 2013 in a recent State of the Town address posted on the page. The new site looks much like the previous one, with many of the same tabs, but where that site stood almost completely dormant for months at a time, there is now a great deal of Garland-related information contained in the page.
That includes a list of news and events, a community calendar, information on local businesses and attractions, a plethora of new meeting minutes (those from more recent meetings are still being compiled), contact numbers, announcements, helpful links and some history about the town, along with other items.
Visitors to the site are greeted with a welcome from the mayor, its status as a N.C. STEP (Small Towns Economic Prosperity) community and a message about the town’s fast-approaching birthday. Garland was chartered as a town on Feb. 8, 1907.
Murphy said the goal of the new page is to inform.
“It is our goal to keep you informed about the town of Garland,” Murphy said in her message. “We encourage you to visit this website frequently to stay connected with Garland. More importantly, we encourage you to become actively engaged in our community by attending board meetings, community meetings, serving on leadership projects, volunteering and providing your input to our elected officials.”
Small-town friendliness and community spirit are found in Garland throughout the year, the mayor said, offering a reminder of the town’s motto: “Greatness Grows in Garland.” The mayor said it is hoped that visitors will find the site “useful, entertaining and informative.” She urged feedback, suggestions and contributions so that everyone can be included and ideas can be utilized to improve the town.
“We are proud to call Garland home and invite others to visit us and consider making Garland (their) home,” Murphy said.
State of the town
Contained in the site, along with new pictures, updated meeting minutes and an up-to-date calendar noting board meetings, N.C. STEP gatherings and town events, is a “State of the Town” message.
In the message, Murphy thanks everyone for the support given to the town, and urges continued support in the year to come.
“Together, we weathered many challenges. Together, we had many successes,” she stated.
The “most significant accomplishment” of 2012 was receiving the N.C. STEP grant, Murphy said, the subsequent kick-off celebration for which brought thousands into the town. She said it was now up to the community to offer feedback toward planning for future growth and projects in Garland.
“At this time, town leaders and citizens are in the planning stage of establishing a vision and priority needs for the town,” Murphy stated to Garland citizens. “Your input and participation are very much needed. You have the opportunity to make sure that your voice is heard as we all work together to make Garland a better place to live now and for generations to come.”
Some positive change is already happening, as even though “The Corner Store” was closed at the beginning of 2012, the Han-Dee Hugo’s/Subway is now open for business at the same location, Murphy said. The Christmas tree lighting and last month’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations were “highlights that brought many people together in fellowship, love, and celebration.”
“We plan more of these activities to further unite us and make Garland a wonderful place to live and visit,” the mayor said.
During 2012, the town also saw its elected officials change. Murphy was elected as commissioner in 2011 and has served as the mayor for the past year following her appointment. “I love our town and we must all work together to make our town one in which we love to live, in which others want to visit, and in which businesses want to locate,” she said.
The mayor reminded Garland residents that this year they will once again choose who will guide the town for the future. In the November 2013 election, the mayor’s seat and three commissioner’s seats will be vacant. Whether as an elected official or an engaged citizen, all residents’ voices should be heard, she said.
“As elected officials we are charged with making decisions (popular or unpopular) based on many factors, based on the needs of our citizens, on research, on financial documentation, and based on local, state and federal laws,” said Murphy. “Probably the most heart-wrenching decision that this board had to make was the increase in utility rates. And yet, we had no choice and must share this increase together. Please believe that this board is being fiscally responsible.”
The board has decreased unnecessary expenditures, while trying to ensure there are enough operational funds to maintain the high cost of street maintenance, water and sewer operations, town utilities, services and personnel.
“Based on our financial audit report, our financial status has improved,” said Murphy. “however, compared to other towns our size, we are still struggling financially.”
In her address, Murphy stressed the need to collect 100 percent tax revenue, cut costs and generate revenue from sources other than through rates hikes in order to remain financial stability. Supporting the community must be a priority, she said.
“If we can work together to increase jobs, housing, (and) services for the young and the older, then we should be able to increase our population, increase our sales tax revenue, and have more people and revenue to share in our operational cost,” said Murphy. “We must also continue to support all of our existing businesses by shopping locally.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.