In delivering her 2015 State of the City address, Mayor Francie Sullivan kept the laundry list of infrastructure improvements and civic accomplishments to a minimum and opted instead to talk about the “hidden heroes” who work behind the scenes to keep Redding running.
A lot of people are familiar with the big, visible projects like the ongoing improvements to the Henderson Open Space south of the Highway 44 bridge, Stillwater Business Park (which snagged its first occupant this year) and the Palisades Trail, but “most of what the city of Redding does goes unnoticed. Behind each of those projects are city employees who make them happen. They, too, often go unnoticed.”
On Tuesday, during the 29th annual State of the City luncheon presented by the Greater Redding Chamber of Commerce, Sullivan made sure to highlight the behind-the-scenes staff members who “keep our lights on, our streets smooth, our parks safe and our neighborhoods safe. I call them ‘hidden heroes.’ They are our neighbors, our coaches and your customers.”
She then introduced a trio of videos—produced by Bethel Media with help from Eric Johnson, a Bethel pastor, and Nathan Edwardson, pastor at The Stirring—that focused on parks supervisor Mike Herzog, public works street crew foreman Jim Carter and Bob Brannon, a Redding police officer who works on graffiti eradication and river bank cleanup programs.
Each of the polished videos drew rounds of applause.
Sullivan, who frequently comments on the dedication and quality of city employees at city council meetings, relayed a story of how Redding firefighters Rik Valles, Aaron Dieck and Cody Buick were climbing Mt. Shasta this summer and went out of their way to assist a severely wounded climber.
The mayor plucked a few heartstrings by reading a note a young boy named Gavin penned to Roger Wilson, his favorite garbage truck driver. It read, “Dear Mr. Roger … I am going to miss you because I am going to school for like FIVE months. Thank you for the lollipops. You are the best. I love you. From Gavin.”
Sullivan then noted that of the reams and reams of correspondence the council receives, she could not recall a single missive that ended with “I love you.” “I guess we need to work on that,” she quipped.
Sullivan shifted her speech to Redding’s image and prefacing her remarks by telling the Civic Auditorium audience that her husband, Dick Roseberry, is retired. “We can live anywhere. We moved away and chose to move back. We are grateful, every day, to live in Redding. There are others who feel the same way and our helping to spread the word.”
She mentioned new Instagram and Twitter pages that can be accessed at @thecityofredding and #thisisredding, respectively; the revamped site, www.visitredding.com, managed by the Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Redding’s own revamped site, www.cityofredding.org.
“We live in a pretty fantastic place … sometimes we forget that,” Sullivan said while introducing another promotional video that was produced with help from Bethel Media. “Clearly we live in a beautiful place,” Sullivan continued, “but obviously we have challenges, with public safety being at the top of that list.”
She listed steps the city has taken to crack down on theft and vagrancy, including the addition of more officers and the doubling in size of the city’s code enforcement staff, implementing a bike patrol and partnering with Shasta County on the Blueprint for Public Safety.
Like the previous mayors who have made the annual address, Sullivan ended her speech on a high note, pointing out Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Sheraton Hotel at the Sundial Bridge and the opening of the Sierra House, a two-story shelter and headquarters for One Safe Place.
“Sierra House shows we care about each other and our quality of life. It is a reminder of the problems we can solve when we work together,” Sullivan said.
Prior to her speech, former Mayor Rick Bosetti presented the Past Mayor’s Philanthropic Award to Steve Woodrum. The award acknowledges Woodrum’s substantial gifts to nonprofit causes, including $50,000 for improvements to the Henderson Open Space and another $50,000 to the Shasta Family YMCA for improvements to its pool and swimming lessons for underprivileged children.
Bosetti said Woodrum has a great knack for “making his money work” by leveraging his contributions and using them to encourage others to donate.
“Donate early and you can see great things,” Woodrum said. Woodrum is a descendant of the pioneering Henderson family. His father, Henry, was Redding’s airports director in the 1970s and his brother, Mike, is a bartender and co-owner of Jack’s Grill in downtown Redding.