Susan Narvaiz

State of the City Address - Oct. 16, 2008

Susan Narvaiz
October 16, 2008— San Marcos, Texas
State of the City address
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This is a very special evening tonight as it signifies the preview opening of the San Marcos Conference Center and Embassy Suites Hotel—a grand partnership by so many people and organizations who put their “hands to the good work.”

I hope you have enjoyed your first glimpse of a facility that will host many special events for our families and friends for years to come.

As we begin, I want to thank my council colleagues for their commitment to the common good of all of San Marcos. We, you and I represent the citizen’s views and bring thoughtful ideas forward that make our community a better place.

I would like to recognize the spouses of our council who live with your elected officials and allow us to serve. Theirs is the harder job! I would especially like to take a moment to acknowledge my husband Mike who is has encouraged and supported me. I also welcome members of my family and some of my dear friends from San Antonio.

We want to recognize our 5th Student Liaison Chris Covo. Chris, we welcome you and look forward to your representing Texas State Students and the partnership that this position signifies to our shared community.

Let us now ask Associated Student Government President Brett Baker and Vice President Jason Moore to stand. We thank ASG for sponsoring the liaison process and are excited about our continued work together.

To our City Manager, Rick thank you for your leadership during your first 5 months on the job. We are anxious for you to use the expertise that we recognized as the council chose you to guide our city, our hometown and to further the council’s commitment to bring positive progress and sensational service delivery to our citizens.

To the over 500 servants that make up the city team, San Marcos would not be the same without your passion and devotion to our neighborhoods, our business community, our schools and university, and most of all your continued support for the mission of our City and its people.

Let me begin…

Last October in my address I spoke of having hope and having faith. I shared with you that I have such a hope for our city… for our San Marcos, for our people, for this place we call home. I told you it would require more from us than ever before but it would be worth it! I told you I was willing to press forward and I asked you to join me. And you did.

Tonight I am happy to talk with you about our joining together, our accomplishments, our Traditions, our Transformation and our Transcendence.

In this, my fourth State of the City Address and as your Mayor, I will report to you our current conditions, discuss our challenges and offer our vision for the future, so we may go forward together.

Across this nation in recent weeks, we have entered a period of uncertainty and economic upheaval. A few weeks from now, we will hold an election to choose new national leaders. Americans are both eager and quite anxious for the future.

We hope that recent Congressional action to rescue Wall Street will enable the people on our “Main Street” to hold a steady course, maintain jobs and services, and keep our local economy prospering. As we hope for a sustainable recovery for our nation’s economic picture we must remain positive, we must continue to encourage investments in our city and we must be prepared and open to the changes that may be necessary as a nation, a city and as individuals. Here are some current Economic indicators for San Marcos.

Our population has grown to 50,373 people in 2008 —a number that will have great significance in coming years and gives us a greater extraterritorial jurisdiction, better access to grants and funds—and more responsibility over state highways in our community. The greatest benefit of this growth is it stops encroachment and allows our own footprint to expand. This gives us more say in what is going to develop around us and in what manner.

Texas State University has grown to an enrollment of nearly 30,000 students. Our daytime population is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 85,000 people! Join me now in recognizing Dr. Denise Trauth, President of Texas State University.

Although Dr. Trauth cannot be here tonight, —she and the outstanding Texas State administration, staff, faculty and student body are taking the university to new heights.

The growth of your enrollment is directly attributable to the expansion of your graduate and undergraduate academic programs that are creating excellent educational opportunities for our community and all Texans.

The physical transformation of the campus is making it more beautiful while retaining historical value. Texas State will be more accessible and more welcoming to all who enter.

In the area of new job creation and according to the Capital Area Council of Governments, since 2004, San Marcos has seen 6,900 new jobs created in our community. Our area per capita income has also increased by $10,000 in the same period. This reflects our efforts at economic development, the faith of business and industry in new and continued investment in San Marcos, and the economic climate that is drawing people here every day. Our violent crime rate is down 23% and our property crimes are down 22%. A declining crime rate is good news especially during a period of growth.

During the same period your council has increased staffing in Public Safety, including Police, Fire, Code Enforcement and our Park Ranger Program. Our Insurance Service Office (ISO) fire rating for insurance purposes was lowered from a 4 to a 2, (with the best rating being a “1”). This rating is based on the assessment of our fire protection services. The result was a 10% reduction in insurance premiums in 2008 for our citizens and businesses. If you have not realized a savings I recommend that you call your agent and notify them of this change. Thank you for your work and your commitment to the people of San Marcos.

Our property tax base grew by 5.4% for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2008, as we gained $117 million in new valuations. In the current budget, the City Council maintained the same property tax rate, same electric rates and after discussion with many of you we have the same water-wastewater rates. Our sales tax collections for the fiscal year just ending September 30th totaled $18.3 million, reflecting a new record in retail sales. The annual increase was 5.4% above2007. This compares to a negative 1.3% in Round Rock 2.4% in Austin to a high of 11.9% in Schertz. Our 2009 budget totals $145.7 million, a 5.4% increase compared to 2008. The increase can be attributed to the rise in cost of wholesale electric power, fuel, payroll costs and debt service payments. The City Council has embraced a cautious approach to budgeting and monitoring our financial status.

The Council’s Audit Committee which examines the annual independent audit, will expand its role and also evaluate our major financial policies, utility rate studies, and the annual budgeting process.

As we monitor and assess the impact of the current financial circumstances from Wall Street to our “main street,” we think about our own community. In San Marcos our “main street” is known as Hopkins Street, one of the primary entryways to our community. Hopkins Street links much that is San Marcos—our government, churches, businesses, transportation arteries, parks, schools, museums, grocery stores, and neighborhoods. Hopkins transitions into Hunter Road south of town to an area of newer subdivisions, an explosion of new business development and an area that will see great growth in the coming years.

Hopkins, our “main street,” provides linkage not only to our daily activities—but also to our important Traditions, to the activities that will transform our community and provides the foundation to Transcend.

San Marcos is a treasured place in Texas. Our pristine, spring fed river is unique, attracting Native Americans to live and hunt along the banks for more than 10,000 years. The modern community of San Marcos was founded in 1851, just a few generations ago. The history and traditions of San Marcos are celebrated in this beautiful, new Conference Center.

Honoring our heritage we have named the ballrooms and meeting rooms after some of our most valued heroes and places. The Spring Lake Ballroom is named for the unique, crystal clear springs that create our River. It also celebrates the role this development played in setting the stage for the acquisition of 251 acres, now known as the Spring Lake Preserve.

San Marcos citizens have a long held passion for our natural blessings that over recent decades has driven policy decisions that preserve and protect the springs and our river. The San Marcos River Room celebrates our river, which meanders through the heart of our community and touches every person who has had the opportunity to swim, tube, canoe, and kayak or just relax along its lovely banks. For some of us the river was the setting for our cherished life moments, for me it was on the San Marcos River and along its banks that my husband Mike and I were married almost 12years ago.

With the rebuilding of Rio Vista Falls just two years ago—a century old dam on the verge of collapse -- we have made the river an even more significant destination for our citizens and visitors alike.

The Chief Plácido Boardroom— Chief Plácido was the last great Tonkawa Chief who helped Texas pioneers in their quest to tame the wilderness. He fought in major battles with the Texas Rangers in the mid-19th Century.

Leadership San Marcos Class of 2007, undertook as its gift to the City last year the creation and casting of a bronze statue honoring Chief Plácido. It is located at San Marcos Plaza Park in the garden next to the Old Fish Hatchery Community Building The Juan Veramendi Ballroom: San Marcos celebrates our Hispanic heritage remembered in Juan Veramendi—the Mexican Governor of Texas in 1832-33; the father-in-law of James Bowie—hero of the Alamo—and the original owner of the two-league land grant that became San Marcos, Texas. I am honored to be speaking in the Veramendi Ballroom tonight!

The Edward Burleson Boardroom: General Burleson was a hero of the Texas Revolution, Vice President of the Republic of Texas and – most important for us—a founder of the City of San Marcos.

The Chautauqua Room harkens back to the late 19th Century—when Chautauqua Hill was the site of summertime gatherings for family educational, cultural and entertainment events. In 1899—the City of San Marcos donated the 11-acre Chautauqua Hill for the creation of what is now Texas State University. These are a few special places and people that are forever commemorated in the City of San Marcos Conference Center.

This building is where memories will be created. Where the Traditions of long ago have been branded into our hearts and where we, who are present tonight, will be forever connected to future generations who walk these halls.

Recently I had the opportunity to join a community march sponsored by the American G.I Forum Women. This organization serves alongside the American G.I. Forum, which was founded by Dr. Hector P. Garcia in 1948 to fight for civil rights for Hispanic veterans of World War II. At the rally School Board Trustee David Castillo made some touching remarks. He recalled that it was a $500 scholarship from the American G.I. Forum that gave him his great chance in life—to go to college—that got him on the pathway toward a successful future.

This scholarship launched a young man into the education field and a lifetime of community service that will benefit many of our young people long into the future. We must support and sustain the traditions that keep us strong. Civic and civil rights organizations such as the American G.I. Forum and G.I. Forum Women remind us of our roots— and the source of our strength.

Tonight I want to honor three very special citizens who personify the Spirit of San Marcos in the way they have helped preserve our traditions—and created new ones. Harvey Miller is one of the key leaders who led the fight for desegregation of the Georgetown, Texas schools in the early 1960s, taking the fight to federal court.

In the decades that he has lived in San Marcos, Harvey Miller founded the Dunbar Heritage Association with the goal of preserving the rich African American heritage of our community. He has led marches in commemoration of Martin Luther King every year and started the Juneteenth festival in 1978—a celebration of freeing of the Texas slaves in 1865—when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached our state. For these things I am pleased to present Harvey Miller with the mayors “Spirit of San Marcos Award”.

Ofelia Vasquez-Philo is a remarkable woman who has served the San Marcos community and broken civil rights and economic barriers for Hispanics for decades. In the late 1950s, she reorganized and led the American G.I. Forum Women, a civic and civil rights group that continues to have clout today.

As the first Mexican-American woman to be elected to public office in San Marcos, Ofelia served on the San Marcos school board in the late 1960s and early 70s. She led the Community Action agency for many years, providing services and opening windows of economic opportunity for low income families in our community.

In more recent years, Ofelia collaborated with other authors and published a wonderful book, “Dreams and Memories of the Past,” the stories and oral histories of Mexican American families and leaders in San Marcos who have so shaped our community. Ofelia—I am honored to present to you the “Spirit of San Marcos Award” for 2008. Dr. Gwen K. Smith –is a definitive “BISM” (Born in San Marcos) who exemplifies a life of service and volunteerism.

Her contributions are so widely recognized that she is being honored by the Heritage Association tonight also—and she can’t be with us here! Gwen is one of the few people who can boast that she helped plan the Texas Centennial Celebration in 1936, the nation’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, the Texas State University Centennial in 1999—and the City of San Marcos Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2001! She is one tough lady whom many of us look to when we need an example of courage, grace, and an opinion. She will give it you whether you want it or not! I am pleased to present Dr. Gwen Smith with the 2008 “Spirit of San Marcos Award.”

San Marcos is a community that continually undergoes transformation. The work of City government is largely devoted to this process of improvement—so that we can assure our citizens have clean water to drink, reliable electricity, safe streets to drive on, firefighters and police to protect the public and set policy to ensure that our city’s economy is sustaining and progressing.

In the past year, our staff has made considerable strides in this transforming process. Citizens, elected leaders, staff and often experts in the private sector have worked together and accomplished much.

Our City Manager Rick Menchaca is working closely with the City Council and staff to help us reach the next high level of public service and to exceed the great expectations of the people of San Marcos. He began the realignment of the City organization to help us achieve improved productivity, efficiency –and where possible -- cost savings as we go forward. The realignment that he has announced will better coordinate the development process, improve our organizational capacity, and provide broader support for economic development efforts.

Following policy direction that was given during the past 3 years we are pleased to announce tonight the creation of a “Neighborhood Services” Division—an expanded concept of our previous Code Enforcement department. We hope to accomplish safer, cleaner and more peaceful neighborhoods through these efforts.

The Downtown Master Plan, a guide for redevelopment and restoration of our historic downtown area, offers a fresh vision of how we can make our Central Business District more walkable, livable, naturally appealing and marketable in our 21st Century life. The Plan will support the work of our Main Street program in its efforts to preserve the historic authenticity and identity of our Downtown while creating a more distinctive destination.

With the help of our Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, we have successfully gained federal funds to support the transformation of the San Marcos Municipal Airport as it gains a new place in the regional transportation system.

With the $1.5 million we secured plus matching grants with the FAA and TxDOT we will improve the northwest side of our airport along Highway 21, repave runways, make major repairs to the aircraft parking area and prepare to construct a new Civil Air Patrol Building. We are leveraging state and federal dollars to advance our airport as it plays an even greater role in aviation and fast becomes our next economic generator.

One of the most exciting projects now underway is the construction of the Wonder World Drive extension that will link Ranch Road 12 to Hunter Road and I-35. The Wonder World extension will vastly improve traffic flow to and from western Hays County – and perhaps most important—relieve downtown and residential neighborhoods of heavy truck traffic and congestion.

Transformative projects that will mean much to San Marcos, Hays County and our School District are the McCarty Lane improvements and the future Loop 110 project. The City of San Marcos and Hays County are jointly investing in the improvement of east McCarty Lane, which not only serves this wonderful Conference Center and Embassy Suites hotel—but is one of the main access points to the new San Marcos High School.

San Marcos and Hays County voters have the opportunity to decide whether to fund a number of significant road projects on November 4th. The Hays County Road Bond is a $207 million package for roadway mobility and safety improvements throughout our County. Residents will be asked to match $74 million to a $133 million reimbursement match provided by the Texas Department of Transportation through pass-through financing.

Included in the bond package are funds for Loop 110 which will connect our current McCarty Lane to State Highway 123.This is an important project for safety and mobility in the vicinity of San Marcos High School.

We appreciate the work of the entire Commissions Court for addressing our urgent transportation needs in Hays County. I want to give special thanks to Commissioners Debbie Gonzales-Ingalsbe and Will Conley, who represent San Marcos, for working so hard for so long on the funding for Loop 110 in San Marcos in the bond package. Loop 110—a project that has been envisioned by San Marcos citizens since the early ‘80s—may get its long-awaited start if voters approve this package.

I encourage you to learn all you can about the Hays County Road Bond Projects on the ballot — as well as the 22proposed amendments to the City Charter and a non-binding proposition on extending hours for on-premise alcohol sales in San Marcos Achieving Community Together (ACT) One of the most remarkable, transforming projects the City has undertaken in the past year is a Police Department’s initiative with Texas State University called…Achieving Community Together… or ACT.

In our on-going quest to achieve a greater sense of community between students at Texas State and residents—and deal creatively with Town-Gown issues, Chief Howard Williams and Assistant Chief Lisa Dvorak have worked closely with University leadership Associated Student Government, Neighborhood Services, and student and non-student residents.

This collaboration is addressing significant, perennial issues -- noise, loud parties, parking, litter, trash and garbage, and poor upkeep of rental properties.

Their focus is to promote positive relations through education, constructive associations and experiences in our entire community, and developing resources to promote these activities. This initiative is bearing some important fruit in programs such as:

  • Neighborhood walks and dialogues
  • Texas Night Out
  • Bobcat Build
  • Landlord education
  • Quarterly property manager meetings
  • Living Green
  • And ACT Advertising Campaign

Will Chief Williams and Assistant Chief Dvorak and all those who have participated in all of these programs to please stand. Thank you for these innovative, creative and transforming efforts that are making San Marcos a true home to all of us.

Just a month ago, a devastating hurricane slammed into the Texas coast at Galveston. While we in San Marcos were spared the ravages of the storm, we were asked to provide assistance to several hundred storm evacuees from the Galveston-Beaumont area. Under the direction of City Emergency Manager Ken Bell and with the outpouring of assistance from all sectors of San Marcos, volunteers literally TRANSFORMED the old Bowie Elementary school into a shelter that could house 200 people in about 12 hours.

I want to express my gratitude to all the volunteers for the swift and effective response to a statewide emergency:

  • City of San Marcos—many departments and staff, especially Parks & Rec, Fire Rescue, Police, Public Works, Water/ Wastewater Utility, Library, Women Infants & Children and many others. Our newly expanded Animal Shelter became a key temporary refuge for the pets of Hurricane Ike evacuees—thanks to the great facilities and caring staff that we have.

  • Hays County
  • San Marcos CISD
  • Gary Job Corps Center-students and staff
  • Texas State University-San Marcos—students and staff
  • Hays County Community Emergency Response Team volunteers
  • Social Service Agencies
  • Hays County Area Food Bank
  • Businesses—including Time Warner Cable who help us wire the Bowie Shelter for the Internet in a matter of hours
  • Churches and individual volunteers
  • Area hotels and motels who have hosted many evacuees
  • Five of our employees -- Firefighters Michael Orichuela, Tory Turner and Isaac Hernandez, Clint Ladd of the Fire Marshal’s office, and Police Officer Tim Saavedra -- went to Houston and then to Orange, Texas where they helped in the search and recovery effort for 11 days immediately after the devastating hurricane. It was a difficult and harsh assignment—and we are proud that our Firefighters and Police are willing to volunteer for such duty.

I hope that all of us will remember that the crisis for many coastal families is not over. In the midst of this emergency, the shelves of the Hays County Area Food Bank were bare—but once we appealed for donations—their shelves were filled within a day.

I encourage our community to keep the Food Bank shelves filled at all times and to give to the American Red Cross, United Way and other agencies in our community.

We have many people in San Marcos who help our community “transform” itself through their meaningful and important contributions.

Tonight, I want to honor three such people:

Eleanor Crook has long been a remarkable and generous builder of community in San Marcos. My tribute tonight cannot begin to encompass all the good she has done here—with our schools, Scheib Opportunity Center which she helped found many years ago—or her other worldwide initiatives against hunger through the years.

Tonight, we honor Eleanor Crook with a “Spirit of San Marcos” Award for her on-going support for the San Marcos Nature Center as well as Crook Park.

A generous donation by Eleanor Crook and her late husband, Ambassador William Crook enabled the City to purchase parkland along the San Marcos River between Cheatham Street and I-35. Eleanor Crook has also generously donated additional funds to sustain our Nature Center, now staffed and offering educational programs about the San Marcos River and the wonderful natural assets we enjoy.

I am pleased to present the “Spirit of San Marcos” Award to Eleanor Crook.

I want to recognize another “transformative” citizen of San Marcos—who has contributed so much to our community.

Chuck Nash is well known here and across the State of Texas as a business leader, entrepreneur, and the former Chair of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. His contributions to education—especially Texas State University and the creation of the Texas Rivers Center—have transformed the old Aquarena Springs amusement park into a significant environmental resource for our state.

Tonight, I want to honor Chuck for his important support for the San Marcos Municipal Airport—one of the hidden treasures of our community. Over the last several years, Chuck has helped us apply for and receive federal allocations for the development of the airport. As chair of our Airport Commission, Chuck has lent his expertise and vision to the airport’s growth and development. He has offered us his advice and connections to Capitol Hill to help us acquire funding that will build infrastructure and new facilities in the future.

I am proud to present the “Spirit of San Marcos Award” to Chuck Nash.

Our next honoree Taryn Guerrero Davis, daughter of Toby and Roland Guerrero, is a remarkable young woman who has transformed the greatest tragedy of her life into a nationwide outreach to others.

Taryn, a 2003 graduate of San Marcos High, attended Texas State University. She married the love of her life, Michael Davis, a 2002 SMHS graduate, and planned for many years of happiness ahead.

Then, on May 21, 2007, Cpl. Michael Davis was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq while serving our nation. His shocking and tragic death saddened our community. In the months after Michael’s death, Taryn turned her grief into something meaningful and helpful to others and she created “The American Widow Project,” a non-profit organization dedicated to the new generation of young people who have lost the beloved heroes of their lives.

Taryn’s outreach has focused on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter—widow to widow. She produced a documentary of their stories and created a network to help them heal and move forward in their lives.

I am very proud to present the “Spirit of San Marcos Award” to Taryn Guerrero Davis.

I would now like to honor all who have served and are serving our country in the defense of freedom and democracy. Would you please stand if you have served in our armed forces. As we thank you for your service others have volunteered to take up the call for freedom.

Please join me Saturday, October 18th at 10 am at the VFW Hall on Hunter Road as we send off soldiers from the 363rdQuarter Master Battalion based in San Marcos. They will be leaving for Iraq shortly and need to feel our support and commitment of prayers for their families while they are serving our country.

We are called upon to rise above ordinary expectations, to go beyond something in quality or achievement, to excel as we serve our community. Your City Council has dedicated much time in the past 12 months, developing specific goals upon which we will focus the resources and energies of City Government and serve our citizens well.

It has been rigorous, demanding and difficult to hone the many needs of our community into goals and objectives that are within our grasp and within our financial means. The goals we have adopted are as follows:

  1. Expand economic development

We will do this by creating a strategic plan which identifies funding resources, expands higher education and workforce training, and implements elements of the Downtown Master Plan. As part of our initiatives for higher education, our goal is to see San Marcos join the Austin Community College district. How we grow, as well as the opportunities for our children, university students and our workforce will depend on us. Our quality of life will be contingent upon the success of bringing in the right kind of business, industry and investments. Economic development always has and always will be the foundation upon which our city’s future will be built.

  1. Improve the image of San Marcos by conducting a branding project that will help us market our community with a consistent message and build on our considerable assets. We also seek to partner with the School District to support and make the public aware of the significant academic achievements of San Marcos CISD. The City of San Marcos applauds these achievements and tonight wishes to recognize two programs that have been initiated at two of our schools:

    • The First Knight Program which was launched at Crockett Elementary in partnership with the San Marcos Rotary Club. The First Knight—as in the Knights of the days of Chivalry—is a character and ethics education program for K-8thgrade students. The goal of this program is to develop our youth into ethical, morally-responsible, community-oriented, self-disciplined adults.
    • The Hernandez Intermediate School has started “The Gentlemen’s Club” for 5th and 6th grade boys. This program teams up area business and community leaders to mentor students in the area of etiquette, manners and improving self-esteem. This pilot program—the first one in Texas---, was first developed by a renowned educator Stephen G. Peters. The Gentlemen’s Club strives to inspire and guide boys who are emerging as leaders among their peers. The program focuses on life skills, social skills and the importance of education. Will members of the First Knight and Gentlemen’s Club and their sponsors please stand. To the young students and their families, thank you for your willingness to strive for more and to the volunteer mentors, you represent the mean of transcendence.

We must also recognize the role of the San Marcos Academy, the Masters School, Hill Country School and Gary Job Corp in providing educational options for the community. Our goal to improve the image of our City also speaks to increasing our beautification efforts— including landscaping, aesthetics, and sprucing up our town.

  1. Enhance the region’s transportation grid by connecting to major road projects in the region, and creating a TOD (Transit Oriented Development) plan that allows for Commuter Rail and continuing to make San Marcos more bicycle/pedestrian friendly. We intend to work closely with Texas State University to plan a united mass transit system that will serve students and residents alike. We also will evaluate ordinances associated with a city-wide cab system.

  2. The fourth and final goal adopted by the City Council is to improve our connection and communication with regional organizations. We will continue to engage in regional meetings on a variety of issues— regional planning, water, rail relocation, legislation, transportation, and many other subjects. We also will work closely with Hays County and other entities to assess the need for a countywide EMS system and we will pursue greater collaboration with Texas State University so that we can address the multitude of shared interests and issues together. Tonight, we are privileged—and thrilled—to be holding the first special event in the City of San Marcos Conference Center.

The Embassy Suites Hotel and the San Marcos Conference Center are dreams built by people with vision, people willing to think big, and people willing to transcend the ordinary to create the extraordinary. Tonight Flintco, our contractors and the Embassy Suites team are putting the finishing touches on this grand facility.

This event serves as a way to train the new team. Wow—what a great first impression! In a few weeks, the Conference Center and Hotel will open for business—and in December we will mark this with a Grand Opening Celebration. It is fitting to give special recognition to hotelier John Q. Hammons who saw a beautiful community and chose to become part of it.

His vision back in 2003 to build a hotel/ conference center in San Marcos captured our imaginations, our enthusiasm and yes created some controversy. But when the dust settled, together we took the rare opportunity to create a monumental structure with a world-renowned hotelier who relied on his proven, savvy business instincts and his heart for a community that had potential.

In January 2007—together we broke ground on this project. We asked for God’s blessing on this place where people would gather and we asked for prosperity in our city. Part way thru the construction we celebrated the safety record of those that labored here and all in attendance signed a beam that will be our time capsule recording the people present and our shared vision. That beam is located in this very room, the Veramendi Ballroom linking our past with our present.

There are many people who deserve thanks for this beautiful project— and we will truly celebrate at the grand opening, but for now I would ask former council colleagues, our chamber friends, our planning and zoning commissioners and city staff to citizens that spoke during the many public discussions to Contractors and their support teams. If you were part of this five year undertaking in any way, large or small please stand and pat yourselves on the back for a job well done! Look at our collective efforts!

At this time, I want make two special presentations to extraordinary partners that launched the vision and completed the mission of this project--Mr. John Q. Hammons and Flintco Construction.

First, to Mr. John Q. Hammons and Embassy Suites. Please accept this small token of our gratitude for the confidence that Mr. Hammons showed in the future of San Marcos by investing here—and by helping us reach a transcendent moment in our history which will propel us into the future.

I want to recognize the Board of Directors from Flintco Inc. and your entire staff who have done such a beautiful job building this facility. I am delighted to present this beautiful photographic portrait of the Embassy Suites Hotel/ City of San Marcos Conference Center. Your superior workmanship, the hands that carefully laid each stone, has created a beautiful hotel and conference center that will gather people together. As referenced in the book of Nehemiah, You were doing a great work and you did not come down until it was commissioned.

Thank you for seeing the significance of this mission. Tonight we follow the trail that was blazed by former Mayor Kathy Morris and her colleagues when they looked at a cow pasture and envisioned the outlet malls. This is what I label a cornerstone project. The breaking of this ground plants the seeds of prosperity for our next generation. Look and behold the magnitude of this endeavor and know that more will come.

Today, we live in challenging times and because of that we may be tempted to change our direction but let us remember that difficult times do not make us faint rather it stirs us to overcome. We must ask ourselves, “Are we the next generation to be tested as our parents and grandparents once were - How will we fare-” We must stay focused on our future.

I see this as what can be our most exciting times. A time to be strong and courageous, a time to dig deep and to realize that all effort of worth and excellence are difficult, but those days prepare us for a better time. I believe our best days are ahead of us. I believe that we are blessed in this city.

President Franklin D Roosevelt once said to the nation, “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”

This is our time. This is our turn. Let us leave a legacy of tradition, transformation and transcendence. Let us move forward together and in faith.

May God’s Blessings be upon you and this great City.

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