East Grand Forks Mayor Steve Gander outlines accomplishments, goals in State of City address
Throughout his speech Gander reflected on the city’s brand of “Life Connected.”
EAST GRAND FORKS – Mayor Steve Gander says he looks forward to the accomplishments to come in 2023 as he outlined the past year's achievements of East Grand Forks city departments during his annual State of the City address on Thursday, April 20.
“(City employees) have a long track record of doing good work for our people and I’m really proud of our department heads and all our city staff,” Gander told the Herald after his speech.
Throughout his 45-minute speech, Gander reflected on the city’s brand, based on the slogan "Life Connected," which the city uses in logos and even on its water tower. He said a lot of discussion and work was put into coming up with the city’s brand a few years ago, with the overall message revolving around working together.
“It means people help each other. It probably starts there,” he said. “There’s a ton of kindness across our community. ... In a smaller city like Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, we help each other.”
In his speech, Gander shared accomplishments and upcoming goals of the various entities in the city. He also highlighted the work city employees have done to make those accomplishments possible.
Gander first took time to thank those who serve on the City Council, boards and commissions.
“When I consider all that you put in serving the community through these boards and commissions, I’m sure you know because you see the product of your work. It's essential,” Gander said.
Gander then thanked department heads and highlighted accomplishments and goals for each department, including ongoing efforts in the police department for drug enforcement within the Pine to Prairie Drug Task Force and flood fight efforts taken on by public works staff last year. He noted that East Grand Forks was chosen as having the state's best drinking water in 2022.
“What a great accomplishment for all our water treatment employees,” Gander said.
Some citywide goals throughout the coming year include a renovation project to make street, sidewalk and ADA improvements using federal “subtarget” funds.
Other goals include installing a high-intensity activated crosswalk (HAWK) system at Bygland Road and 13th Street Southeast, along with improvements to LaFave Park to improve parking and adding a new kayak launch area and picnic shelter,.
Gander said another goal is revamping recreational facilities within the city. A 1% citywide sales tax is still awaiting a decision from the Minnesota Legislature. Proceeds from the sales tax, if approved by the Legislature and voters, would fund proposed upgrades to the Civic Center, baseball field at Itts Williams Park and VFW Memorial Arena.
City Council President Mark Olstad also recognized several city employees for their work.
Gander recognized external entities in the community and across the Red River, in Grand Forks.
“We do know that it takes a lot of linkages to make things run smoothly and for us to get our work done,” he said. “You can’t be an island, you can’t try and do it yourself. You have to have a lot of these great connections.”
Among those connections are the city of Grand Forks, the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce, Visit Greater Grand Forks, Grand Forks Air Force Base, UND, Northland Community and Technical College, Polk County Board of Commissioners, East Grand Forks Public Schools, Sacred Heart School and Riverside Christian School.
Gander ended his speech by addressing the political divide in the nation and encouraged people to work together, reflecting back to the city's brand.
“I invite each one of us to be instrumental in pulling together as a nation. Pull together as a region. Pull together in any which way,” Gander said, “because that’s how we do most good together.”