“People of Mount Vernon: This is Where We’re Headed”

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YOUNG_MayorClinton-SOC25March09
Mount Vernon, NY — Mayor Clinton I. Young, Jr. delivered a powerful and promising State of the City Address before more than 300 city residents, elected officials, and dignitaries last night. 



 
While offering a realistic assessment of where the city stands in light of ever-tightening economic conditions, Mayor Young highlighted the accomplishments achieved during the first year of his administration, presented his vision of where Mount Vernon is heading and offered a roadmap towards realizing that vision. 
 

Highlights of Mayor Young’s Address:

 
Improving Government Efficiency: 
 
In its first year, Mayor Young’s administration made great strides towards making governmental operations more efficient and interactive. The creation of a Human Resources department is improving efficiency in the employment process while also customer service skills of city employees to make for a more user-friendly City Hall. 

The Management Services department is working to improve the technological capabilities of city government and upgrading our document and asset management systems. One big step taken towards streamlining operations is the creation of an online payment system for parking tickets. Soon, residents will be able to also pay fees for other city services including, water bills, building permits, recreation fees and property taxes. 

“We are working hard to bring city hall to your home computer, 24-hours a day – seven days a week, 365 days a year. Working harder for you requires your having complete access to city government,” stated Mayor Young.  
 
By instituting internal budgetary controls, the city has reduced spending by $1.5 million compared to the 2008 Adopted Budget, outside of salaries, wages and benefits. In addition, every commissioner and department head has been instructed to trim their budgets even more.
 
Public Safety:
 
Last year, the Mount Vernon Police Department responded to over 48,000 calls for service and as a result of the department’s hard work, the city saw an overall decrease in the amount of violent crimes compared to 2007.

“Unfortunately, we have experienced a disturbing trend in murders,” noted Mayor Young. “By and large, these are young black men killing other young black men with the use of illegal handguns. This has to stop!”

“As Mayor, I have been working closely with Public Safety Commissioner David Chong and neighborhood organizations to turn this disturbing trend around. Our officers, put their lives on the line each and every day. Last year, the Mount Vernon Police Department responded to more than 48,000 calls for service and Detectives solved 9 of the 12 homicides that occurred in the City.”
 
Mayor Young said technology will also play a vital role in the fight against gun violence. Thanks to County Executive Andy Spano and Legislator Lyndon Williams, an automated gunshot detection system will be placed in Mount Vernon that will instantly alert the police department when a gun is fired and the location with pinpoint accuracy. 
 
Improving Infrastructure:
 
In 2008, Mayor Young established a capital projects committee which created a five year plan to rebuild the city’s infrastructure and update its vehicle fleet. Thanks to that committee’s diligent work, the city is preparing to go out to bond this year in order to fund these long-awaited projects. 
 
The City of Mount Vernon has identified and submitted twenty projects to the state for consideration for federal stimulus monies and thanks to the assistance of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, we have already received $1.2 million in stimulus funding for Community Development Block Grants and to fight homelessness. 
 
Petrillo Plaza awaits just a few minor finishing touches before it is unveiled as an aesthetically pleasing state of the art transportation hub that improves the business environment in that area. The city has reached an agreement with the MTA to completely rebuild the long-neglected Park Avenue Bridge which will complement the reconstructed Petrillo Plaza. Mayor Young said funding to rebuild Memorial Field is in place and the city will break ground this fall on the new stadium.
 
Economic Development:
 
Our development of a Comprehensive Plan for the city is well underway. Once complete, the plan will guide development and shape the future growth of Mount Vernon.  
 
The city will be teaming with the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce to hold the first ever Mount Vernon Business Expo. Scheduled for September 30th & October 1st, this event will showcase the City of Mount Vernon is an ideal place to locate a business. 
 
Mayor Young noted that successful business people like Warren Buffett, who many consider the world’s richest person, has invested in Mount Vernon. 
 
Mount Vernon is Going Green:
 
Mount Vernon has partnered with leading authorities on alternative energies and conservation to develop its “Green Initiatives” program which will not only make Mount Vernon a more earth-friendly city. A core component of our Green Initiatives is creation of a Green Industry and Job Training incubator which will attract startup businesses and serve as a resource for our residents to develop the necessary skills for a career in that field. Job creation within the green sector will be paramount to this strategy.
 
Our Youth:
 
Mount Vernon’s youth are our most treasured asset and we will continue to provide safe and effective programming for them. Last year, Mayor Young created his Youth Empowerment Council that seeks and heeds input from a broad cross-section of Mount Vernon’s young people. The city’s Youth Bureau leads the way in providing job preparedness training as well as after-school and summer jobs. After-school programs such as the acclaimed ASPIRE program provide a safe environment for hundreds of young people.

“Our children are indeed our most treasured resource and Mount Vernon’s young people will ALWAYS be a top priority within my administration. Everything I have talked about up until now is aimed at giving our young people a stronger city to inherit from us. 2009 WILL BE the best year yet for Mount Vernon’s youth,” said Mayor Young.

Mayor Clinton I. Young, Jr.'s State of the City Address of March 25, 2009.


People of Mount Vernon: This is Where We're Headed
 
 
WELCOME 
 
Thank you Council President Bill Randolph, City Council members Loretta Hottinger, Steve Horton, Yuhanna Edwards and Marcus A. Griffith, City Clerk George Brown, and City Comptroller Maureen W
alker; ladies and gentlemen-good evening and welcome to my second State of the City Address.
 
As Mayor of this city I am blessed to have such conscientious partners in government, who are focused solely on the betterment of our city and its citizens. We are pleased to acknowledge the many elected officials and clergy here tonight. 
 
I want to particularly recognize our future City Court Judge Helen Blackwood and the new Corporation Counsel Loretta Hottinger. You may not have heard or read about their qualifications recently, but Helen Blackwood is a Colgate University graduate, with a Juris Doctorate from New York Law School, as well as other advanced degrees in law. In 2008, she was one of only three lawyers to be chosen as "New York Super Lawyers" in the area of government practice. She is now trading in her super cape for a robe. And Loretta Hottinger, her experience in civil litigation and her passion are perfectly suited to best serve as the City's Corporation Counsel. She has done a superb job as an outstanding member of the City Council since 1998.
 
We have great people here in city government. I want to thank the dedicated men and women of each Department and all City Hall staff for their hard work and dedication over this year of transition. You continue to show an interest in improving upon the jobs that you do on a daily basis, and I thank you. 
 
A year has indeed passed and our city, our state, our country have been confronted with challenges that not many generations before us have seen.  
 
Despite these enormous challenges, I am very pleased to stand before you this evening to report to you that our city is much stronger than a year ago. Mount Vernon is stronger, because we are better prepared to meet these challenges and harness lessons learned from the past year. And, we will emerge from these trials a more robust and sustainable city full of people who care not only about themselves, but about future generations of Mount Vernon. People of Mount Vernon, This is Where We're Headed.
 
IMPROVING GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY
 
During my first State of the City Address, I said that Mount Vernon is moving toward a robust and dynamic renaissance. Promises were made back then-and we worked hard to keep those promises. 
 
In year two, we are already reaping the benefits of many projects and initiatives that my staff developed last year. I established a Human Resources Department, under the leadership of Jen Coker-Wiggins. Jen has done a magnificent job improving efficiency and implementing customer service training for our staff to create a more user friendly city hall. 
 
I am proud of the Management Services Department. Commissioner Mary Young and her team have worked tirelessly to advance our technological capabilities. Commissioner Young is currently working on improving telecommunications, upgrading our document and asset management systems. 
 
This year, as promised we are able to generate more revenue for the city through online bill payments. Now you can log on to our Website www.CMVNY.com to pay parking tickets. In the coming months other services will be added, such as Building Department forms and fees, Recreation Department program fees, Water bills, and hopefully, with cooperation, property taxes, as well as block and lot identifications.
 
We are working hard to bring city hall to your home computer, 24-hours a day – seven days a week 365 days a year. Working harder for you requires your having complete access to city government. We are in the 21st century.
 
We have made significant strides in ensuring the transparency and accountability in city government. The inspector general has turned out to be a truly independent voice in city hall. Unquestionably credentialed as a certified inspector general, Harry Stokes has shown a true dedication in weeding out fraud and waste. 
 
I want you to know that during my first year, I instituted internal budgetary controls, a system that has, so far, reduced spending by $1.5 million outside of salaries, wages, and benefits compared to the 2008 Adopted Budget. We foresaw and prepared for further erosion of the global economic markets. And as we prepared the 2009 Budget, we fully understand that the 2010 Budget will present an even greater challenge. To meet that challenge, we are working diligently to stabilize our tax base by encouraging all types of new development.
 
This year, I have called on with every commissioner and department head to trim their budgets even more. Last year, there were no job losses. But, we may not be able to avoid job cuts next year. In addition, further evaluation of the revenue side of this budget is going to be required. Concrete justifications for spending and accountability will continue to be stringently enforced this year. 
 
We took the necessary steps to resolve a costly and longstanding legal matter with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Through the efforts of my office as well as our law and Planning departments, we were able to reduce the settlement from nearly $2.3 million to $1.7 million, without additional penalties. This type of synergy works. Thank you, Law Department. Thank you, Planning Department. We saved our city's taxpayers close to $600,000.
 
But, we still have a long way to go. I know all too well that people in this city are suffering financially and worried about losing their homes. In fact, Mount Vernon has one of the highest rates of foreclosures in Westchester County. We must think out of the box and employ non-conventional measures to stop this trend. That's why I have established a new program entitled "How to Buy, Sell, Finance Real Estate Without Losing Your Shirt." A series of four seminars plus private counseling appointments will be held here at City Hall. 
 
These seminars will be held April 6th, 18th, 27th, and May 9th. They will focus on answering questions and giving good information and procedures to help Mount Vernon people stay out of harm's way. I have enlisted the talents of two Mount Vernon residents and former business owners – familiar to many of us, Edna Haber and Liz Lindsey, who have so generously volunteered their time and expertise to fulfill a real need in Mount Vernon. Welcome ladies and thank you.
 
People like Liz and Edna show us that there is a lot more good going on in our city. I strongly encourage all residents of Mount Vernon to participate in the rebuilding of our city. We're all in this together. By using our collective talents, we can become a model for grassroots government. People of Mount Vernon, This is Where We're Headed.
 
 
TAKING BACK OUR STREETS
 
Unfortunately, we have experienced a disturbing trend in murders. By and large, these are young black men killing other young black men with the use of illegal handguns. This has to stop!!!!
 
As Mayor, I have been working closely with Public Safety Commissioner David Chong and neighborhood organizations to turn this disturbing trend around. 
 
Our officers, put their lives on the line each and every day. Last year, the Mount Vernon Police Department responded to more than 48,000 calls for service. As a result of the department's hard work there has been an overall decrease in measured violent crimes from 2007. Here are other notable statistics:
 
* Detectives solved 9 of the 12 homicides that occurred in the City and have substantial leads in solving the other 3.
* The Mount Vernon Police Department has received close to 3 million dollars in outside Federal, State, County and local grant funding alongwith donations from the Mount Vernon Police Foundation and seized assets. West
chester County has procured additional funding that has assisted us with expanding the Step Up program. Step Up helps many "at risk youth" communicate with police officers and build bridges of cooperation and understanding.
* The Department also works cooperatively with Federal, State as well as County law enforcement agencies to initiate long term, in-depth investigations. This initiative resulted in the arrests this month of hardened drug dealers and removed illegal hand guns from our streets.
 
Here are some additional steps we're taking to create a safer Mount Vernon:
 
I will continue my work with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in the fight against illegal handguns as well as with Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore. I greatly appreciate the support of the United Black Clergy, with its President The Reverend W. Darin Moore and Vice President Bishop C. Nathan Edwers, as well as other neighborhood groups to help establish initiatives to stop the madness on our streets. 
 
I am also engaging more community involvement by instituting a new community-based policing program designed to enhance public trust and cooperation with our police department. We must all work together to bridge any remaining gaps in these relationships. In fact, I encourage the community to get involved in the safety our city. We can no longer protect and house those who are dealing poison to our youth and murdering people in the streets. There are many of you who have already stepped forward, like our Auxiliary Police, to be the eyes and ears of the city, but we're not stopping there.
 
By this Summer, we are hoping to have in place an Automated Gun Detection System, thanks to 3-million dollars in Capital Project funding from Westchester County to provide the city with the latest in gunfire detection technology. We certainly thank County Executive Andy Spano, County Legislator Lyndon Williams and the Board of Legislators for this new system. The system can immediately identify gun fire with pinpoint accuracy to catch criminals in the act. Through this and other initiatives we are building a safer city. Mount Vernon, THIS IS WHERE WE'RE HEADED.
 
 
IMPROVING INFRASTRUCTURE FROM THE INSIDE…OUT
 
In order for Mount Vernon to develop into a true world class city, its long neglected infrastructure must be rehabilitated. For too long, Mount Vernon has been allowed to decay, before our very eyes, in order to produce budget surpluses. As a result, we now face a great challenge in terms of rebuilding and repairing our roads, our buildings, our parks and our vehicular fleet. To do so, however, requires funding. We have been diligently working to identify other funding sources that will allow us to rebuild at a minimal cost to the taxpayers in this city. 
 
Last year, I established a capital projects committee to identify the needs of the city. Each department has submitted a list of projects and equipment needed to improve services in the city. This year, with the cooperation of the City Council, we are hopefully going out to bond in order to fix our city. The capital projects committee has developed a five year plan that includes replacing the City's 25-year old garbage and fire trucks that are in constant need of repair; as well as fixing parking structures and city buildings that are crumbling. 
 
DPW Commissioner Terrence Horton and his team work hard every day with very, very limited resources and outdated equipment. But, they get the job done! Our DPW crew is second to none in this county. I thank you for keeping the faith. 
 
My staff, led by Chief of Staff Yolanda Robinson and Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Bochow, along with our newest staff member Hank Miller, are working tirelessly with our county, state and federal lawmakers to bring home some of the much publicized stimulus funding enacted by President Obama. So far, with the help of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, we have received over 1.2 million dollars in stimulus funding to help fight homelessness and Community Development Block Grants that will go a long way in improving our downtown area. 
 
We all know that our parking lots and streets need an overhaul. I'm happy to announce tonight that renovation work on the Fleetwood Avenue Parking Garage will get underway this year. I have set aside funding to repair or replace the elevators at the Fleetwood and Third Avenue Garages, as well as the elevator at the Armory! Thanks to funding from Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, we can give the Fleetwood Garage an overdue facelift. While I am mentioning the Armory, I would like to recognize the fine work of some of the people who work so diligently and with such care with our seniors. I would like to thank Traci Proctor, Edith Charles, and Joan Horton for their phenomenal work. They have truly expanded our senior programs and I know will continue to do so.
 
In addition, the City of Mount Vernon has submitted over twenty separate projects to the state for consideration for Federal Stimulus monies. I have attended several meetings with other top elected officials in the county who, like us, have infrastructure and economic issues. However¸ the City of Mount Vernon is not sitting back and waiting for stimulus money to come through. We are already taking action and moving forward with much needed and long-anticipated projects.
 
Petrillo Plaza on East Prospect Avenue is awaiting just a few finishing touches before it will be unveiled as an efficient and user-friendly transit hub within our city. While I served as your County Legislator, I secured more than ten million dollars for this project, along with County Executive Andy Spano and Board of Legislators Chairman Bill Ryan. This project will not only enhance the attractiveness of the downtown area, but will improve traffic and pedestrian safety and make the block more business friendly.
 
The Park Avenue Bridge, which spans the New Haven Railroad line, is more suited for off road vehicles than it is for passenger cars. Again, the poor condition of this bridge is due to many years of neglect and deferred maintenance. I am glad to announce that we have reached an agreement with the MTA under which they will completely rebuild the bridge. 
 
We continue to seek funding from our federal and state legislators to rehabilitate our firehouses and upgrade our firefighting apparatus. Fire Commissioner Noah Lighty has done a tremendous job in promoting the Fire Department in a very short time. For example, the Department is putting back in service a third ladder truck that will improve response and reduce the need for mutual aid from other cities. 
 
This administration will not ignore the Fire Department when it comes having the proper tools to do their job. Last year, we repaired the floor at the Oak Street Fire House, which was on the verge of collapse. Currently, we are seeking contractors to remediate a severe mold contamination condition at our main fire headquarters so that we can move our firefighters out of costly trailers and back into their house where they belong.  
 
Finally, Memorial Field, which was once the crown jewel of all Westchester County athletic facilities, is now outdated and sits in an embarrassing state of disrepair because of decades of neglect. I have long been troubled by the message we send to our young people when they visit modern and pristine athletic fields in other areas, yet ask them to host contests and compete in such a run down and decayed facility. Our athletes, cheerleaders, Razorback youth football players and the seniors who walk the track starting at 5 o'clock in the morning all deserve so much better.  
 
As your County Legislator, I began the fight to receive county funding and since becoming Mayor, that torch was pa
ssed to my successor at the county level, Legislator Lyndon Williams, who saw the effort to a successful conclusion earlier this year when the County Board of Legislators voted to award the City of Mount Vernon nearly ten million dollars in Legacy funding which will go toward the design and construction of a new Memorial Field. We will break ground at Memorial Field in the fall of this year. Once again, Mount Vernon will be home to the PREMIER recreational and athletic facility in the region. As an added bonus, this project with spurn further development on the Sandford Boulevard corridor that will surely stimulate our tax base.
 
At the same time, we are also making substantial improvements to Brush Park. This year, we will announce new plans to give Brush Park a major overhaul for our all of our youth baseball and softball teams. In addition, the planning stage has begun for a new tennis center in Mount Vernon. I would like to acknowledge Judith Norton and Danielle Carr. Judith, served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, just returned home to work with our young people through the city's tennis program. Thank you both for being here. Mount Vernon, THIS IS WHERE WE'RE HEADED.
 
  
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
 
In 2008, our city took its first steps toward becoming a more development-friendly municipality.  
 
We have moved to the next phase of our Comprehensive Planning Process. We are now in the middle of the Community Survey period where everyone in the city has the ability to tell us what you want to see happen for the future of Mount Vernon.
 
We, as a community have taken control of our future. The City of Mount Vernon has been without a new Comprehensive Plan for Development since 1968 or as Planning Commissioner Jeff Williams often states not since before man walked on the moon. Now is the time for Mount Vernon to reach its full potential.  
 
Please understand, this plan is not going to be a full makeover of our city, but rather it will serve as a guide for the administration and developers for what you want to see happen. For more information about the Comprehensive Plan process please go to our website www.planMV.com. If you haven't filled out a survey, please do so. We need to hear what you have to say. At the end of this process we will have outlined a path to smart development that will truly benefit our community. We're not looking for investors, we are looking for partners.  
 
While on the subject of partners, on September 30th & October 1st, the City of Mount Vernon will be hosting, along with the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce, the first ever Mount Vernon Business Expo. Over the course of two days in the early Fall, we are going to showcase Mount Vernon as what we all know it to be: the most convenient place in the Metropolitan Area outside of New York City to live and own a business, a place of substantial competitive advantage, all amongst a tight-knit community of people who care what happens in their city. The theme for this year's business expo is "Mount Vernon is Open for Business." We look forward to working with Frank Fraley and the Chamber on this project.  
 
But, I want to be clear, we are open today for smart business and development growth. And, that's why successful business people like Warren Buffett, who many consider the world's richest person, has invested in Mount Vernon. Today, Mount Vernon is attractive, which is why Philip Eisenberg has invested over $90 million in property acquisition in Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon is attractive, which is why Insaf Ali, the owner of Two AA's Mechanical on Fourth Avenue invested his life savings in a business in Mount Vernon. There are so many other medium to small businesses that continue to recognize the great potential for economic growth in our city. Mount Vernon is open for business. Mount Vernon, THIS IS WHERE WE'RE HEADED.
 
 
MOUNT VERNON IS GOING GREEN
 
In last year's State of the City Address I mentioned that my administration would be exploring how Green Initiatives can play a part in the re-birth of Mount Vernon. Let me tell you this evening that Mount Vernon is on its way to becoming a Green City. The city has partnered with a group lead by John Berenyi, a world renowned expert in the fields of alternate energy and alternate fuel technology, along with Richard Garfunkel, to guide us on this path. Together with my Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Bochow and Planning Commissioner Jeff Williams, the group has outlined a Vision Plan for Creating a Sustainable City.  
 
We are looking to reformulate and revise our zoning laws and building codes to encourage sustainable developments. Soon we will establish "green zones" that will promote concentrated green industry sections of the city. We have already evaluated several of our city-owned buildings for their ability to be rehabilitated and modified with sustainable features. Within the next month, our Department of Public Works will be participating in a pilot project with EV Power Systems, a company that specializes in retrofitting pick-up trucks and other large vehicles with an electric engine that ultimately will save 25-40% in fuel consumption. I very much look forward to building upon this pilot program as we continue to upgrade our public works fleet. Perhaps the most vital piece of the Green Initiatives puzzle is the creation of a Green Industry & Job Training Incubator. This incubator will serve as a launching point for businesses who are interested in coming to Mount Vernon and creating jobs for our citizens. It will also be a place for a training and educational center where our residents can develop the necessary skills in this emerging field of green technology. Mount Vernon, THIS IS WHERE WE'RE HEADED. 

Just as I asked last year, while we are putting our plans in place, I would encourage everyone to think about how they can reduce their energy consumption where it makes financial sense for you. Whether it's purchasing a hybrid vehicle or replacing their incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescent bulbs, every little bit counts.  IT'S ALL ABOUT OUR YOUNG PEOPLE

Our children are indeed our most treasured resource and Mount Vernon's young people will ALWAYS be a top priority within my administration. Everything I have talked about up until now is aimed at giving our young people a stronger city to inherit from us. I created an initiative titled "Taking Back Our Kids" which is a comprehensive plan that involves both municipal and community resources working to redirect our young people. The City of Mount Vernon, working together with private organizations, will continue to provide safe and effective programming for our youth.  There are thousands of talented and conscientious young people from Mount Vernon who go on to achieve great things and they are the RULE, rather than the exception.

When it comes to our children, we WILL dedicate resources to them, we WILL nurture them and we WILL expect great things from them. This year our schools were faced with difficult budgetary choices, which unfortunately resulted in the elimination of the sports program from the school district's 2008-2009 Budget. Although the school district is not under my jurisdiction, I created the Save Our Sports (S.O.S.) movement to work with Superintendent
Tony Sawyer to help the district to raise the money. I immediately contacted Mount Vernon High School graduate and NBA star Ben Gordon, as well as my dear friend Denzel Washington who immediately put their celebrity and monetary support behind this worthy cause. With the help of our Bronxville neighbors, like Jeff Cooney, we raised a tremendous amount of money to help our kids. The entire Bronxville community displayed what great neighbors they truly are. I'm happy to say that thanks to the work of Ronnie Cox, President of the Mount Vernon Educational Foundation, we saved sports this year. Saving the sports program gave our young people the opportunity to show their talents. For many of them, this is their path to success above and beyond athletics, like obtaining a college scholarship. So many of our Mount Vernon High School student athletes have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, actors, artists, and even the mayor of Mount Vernon. This community came together and did what was necessary to provide these opportunities for our children.  In order to best serve young people, you must have their input, and that was the basis for the creation of my Youth Empowerment Council.

Early last year, under the direction of Theresa Reid and Dena Williams, we put together a broad-based group of youth who hail from a variety of backgrounds. Their dedication and hard work has already paid dividends to our city in the form of new programs and events that provide a safe and secure environment for young people to gather and enjoy themselves. The Youth Empowerment Council introduced a supervised and popular Teen Night series which has been held at locations such as The Y and the Boys and Girls Club. The council will also be traveling to Washington D.C. and taking a tour of the White House and is planning a Debutante Ball to be held in July that will expose participants to community service projects, public speaking and social etiquette. Over the past year, our Youth Bureau, under the leadership of Deputy Director DaMia Harris, has made great strides in reaching out and extending important programs to Mount Vernon's youth. One area which is crucial to the future success of our younger generations is career preparedness. Ensuring that our young people are able to compete for job and career opportunities is a core component of our youth programming.

In 2008, thanks to Westchester County, the city's Youth Bureau provided job readiness training to over 300 city teenagers, which led to after school and summer employment opportunities at locations that included City Hall, the Mount Vernon Hospital, the animal shelter, the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, the Boys and Girls Club, The Wartburg and more. These youth employment opportunities are crucial in providing a foundation and preparing our young people for future employment and career options. And, we will work even harder this year to find the resources to expand these invaluable programs.I'm also excited about the continued development of our Entrepreneurship Summer Academy in which we partner with Westchester Community College to develop within high school students the knowledge and skills necessary to develop and run a small business. Our summer Cook Academy provides culinary training to students interested in pursuing a career in that dynamic field. Our Lifeguard Program offered scholarships to our youth to receive lifeguard training and certification, which resulted in 90% of participants earning summer employment.  Keeping our youth safe and off of the streets requires that we provide them with safe alternatives. After all, the best crime fighting tool is a good after school program.

The ASPIRE program, run by Brother Arthur Muhammed, at Mount Vernon High School is a shining example of what can result when the City of Mount Vernon partners with the Mount Vernon School District. HUNDREDS of students were able to take advantage of after school literacy and homework assistance, college and career exploration, cultural enrichment and recreational activities.   Make no mistake about it, Mount Vernon's Youth Bureau is the FINEST in the state and it will become even better in 2009 by improving existing programs and offering new services. So far this year, we've already had Playland come in and hold a job fair for our youth at Mount Vernon High School and our job readiness programs are well underway. Our youth have attended college fairs and will be going on college tours. And, just a couple of weeks ago, over 700 young people applied for Summer Employment placement through the Youth Bureau. 2009 WILL BE the best year yet for Mount Vernon's youth.  

A LIMITLESS FUTURE

I have outlined a vision tonight, a roadmap to success for us to follow. This realized vision will help, but I know that it is not going to be the cure-all for the problems we face on a daily basis. It is clear that the city you live in, the city that we all love and hold so dearly in our hearts has a bright and limitless future waiting for us. When you enter my office, there is picture on my wall of our president, President Obama. Under that picture there is a quote, it reads "Our destiny is not written for us, it is written by us." We understand that the only way for us to get there as a successful community is through hard work and in having faith in the fact that great things are possible and that they can be achieved right here in our city. Mount Vernon, I promise you-we will write our destiny together. We have that faith. We believe in ourselves. We believe in our neighbors.

Believe…Believe…Believe… MOUNT VERNON…THIS IS WHERE WE'RE HEADED.

Thank you, God Bless You All, God Bless America, and God Bless the Great City of Mount Vernon.

eHezi“People of Mount Vernon: This is Where We’re Headed”

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