On the eve of its 160th birthday on Feb. 16, Conyers is in great shape and will keep moving forward, Mayor Randy Mills said in his annual "State of the City" address tonight at Cherokee Run Golf Club.
"I think you'll all agree 2013 was a good year to the city and a great deal was accomplished. But we won't stop there, and frankly, we can't afford to," Mills said to a crowd of well over 200 residents and officials.
Mills, who was sworn into office for his fifth term at the event, was joined by City Councilmen Chris Bowen, Vince Evans, John Fountain, Gerald Hinesley and Cleveland Stroud in reporting on 2013's accomplishments.
Highlights included large-scale rezoning, approval of the Four A development, filming of the TV vampire drama "The Originals" in Olde Town, and the hiring of new Conyers Rockdale Economic Development Council Executive Director Marty Jones.
Mills briefly acknowledged that some of the zoning and development changes drew some controversy and complaints. Stroud, who chairs the City Council's Public Safety Committee, noted similar friction on such new policing efforts as security cameras in the Dogwood Drive corridor.
"I told [people who complained], Big Brother is watching you to prevent Little Brother from robbing you," Stroud said to laughter.
Fountain emphasized that strong zoning is the "first line of defense in keeping Conyers a place where we want to live, work and play."
Mills noted that Conyers and Rockdale County are competing with other Metro Atlanta areas to attract residents and businesses. The mayor illustrated the success of drawing newcomers by asking audience members born in Conyers/Rockdale to stand up. Only about one in five audience members rose to their feet, with Mills praising them as the "foundation."
Mills also presented the city and county governments as united in their commitment to the "long-term success of this community."
"When I say, ‘Community,' I am talking about Conyers and all of Rockdale County," Mills said. "We're all in this together. What's good for Conyers is good for Rockdale County, and what's good for Rockdale County is good for Conyers."
The mayor said he recently read "The Noticer Returns" by corporate speaking guru Andy Andrews, who advises about the "fallacy" of the old saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff." In a community, "the small stuff, the fine details, the absolute minutiae, could ruin or hurt a community," Mills said, explaining the city government's interest in details.
Trey Rusk, the superintendent of Cherokee Run, was named the city employee of the year. Rusk, who is recovering from hip replacement surgery, accepted the 2013 Dee Buggay Award of Excellence at an earlier breakfast event.
Conyers Police Department Cpl. Shyra Hardwick was given a plaque honoring her work organizing the annual Christmas "Shop with a Cop" program, where police officers take underprivileged children on toy-shopping trips paid for with donations. Police Chief Gene Wilson praised her work, which last month resulted in 113 children getting presents.