The annual State of the City address, delivered last week for the first time virtually by Solon Mayor Edward H. Kraus, also had another twist.
Instead of the mayor presenting all of the various updates in the city himself, he did it this time as a team, complete with department heads and city staff.
“We have assembled the best team in the community,” Mayor Kraus said. “Brief and to the point is what I want to accomplish, but today I want it to be about the team.”
Mayor Kraus, who donned an old-fashioned hat and coat commemorating Samuel Bull, one of the founding fathers of the city, said that the goal in light of the coronavirus pandemic is to remain healthy and safe, while staying connected.
“All we have done since mid-March is about the health and safety of the community,” he said. “Fortunately, we have a low amount of COVID-19 in Solon.
“We’ve stayed safe, stayed healthy and stayed at home.”
Mayor Kraus went on to highlight the work of the city’s Recreation Department, who re-opened the Solon Community Center earlier this month as well as the work of Jill Frankel, director of senior services, in helping seniors in light of the crisis.
“As we reopened, what was critical for us was to stay connected,” Mayor Kraus said.
Meals were delivered to the homebound while Arthur Road pool opened and Grantwood Golf Course continued to thrive.
The Solon Center for the Arts held ongoing virtual classes to keep the community connected and engaged, he said, and a new dog park opened in the city.
Mayor Kraus went on to recognize more city “team members,” including the safety forces of the Solon police and fire departments, as well as the service department.
Road work continued despite the crisis, he said, and a business friendly City Council continued to help with various projects, including a new drive-thru for Panera Bread on Kruse Drive.
Finance Director Matthew Rubino relayed various cuts over the past three months, noting that department heads made “targeted reductions” due to lower tax revenues linked to the ongoing pandemic.
“We had to react,” Mr. Rubino said. “Our objective was to offset that revenue loss.”
Economic Development Director Angee Shaker said there was an outpouring of support for the city’s business community during the pandemic. She also talked of various projects citywide, including the proposed Hawthorne Golf Estates, that will hinge on a rezoning issue before city voters Nov. 3.
Information Technology Director Jim Gibbs shared the challenges his department faced in terms of helping leaders conduct public business during the pandemic.
“We want to work to continue to be as efficient as possible,” he said.
Mayor Kraus rounded out his state of the city noting that one of the most important things moving forward is to continue to work with the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission on Solon Connects, an initiative that would create a walkable, connected community.
“Solon Connects is so important to the future of our community,” Mayor Kraus said.