Mayor McAdams Delivers State of the County Address

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams delivers his annual State of the County address on January 14, 2014.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams delivers his annual State of the County address on January 14, 2014.

(KCPW News) Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams delivered his State of the County address on Tuesday. He made it clear from the beginning of his State of the County address that this speech would be about the future—namely, how the county prepares.

From the outset, McAdams characterized the county as being on an irreversible trend of growth and transformation, saying the community needs to “shape the future we choose—or react to the future that chooses us.”

“What is certain is that the future will look very different than the past. Whether that energy burns like a wildfire, threatening destruction—or like rocket fuel propelling us towards the stars—it depends on choices we make today,” McAdams said.

One such choice proposed by McAdams was updates to the Clark Planetarium in downtown Salt Lake City. Standing next to a moon rock and a model of a NASA rocket, McAdams pointed to the planetarium as a source of inspiration for children in the community.

“Nothing inspires our children to imagine the future like seeing an actual moon rock or a model of the next generation of rockets that will carry equipment into space, such as this one designed by ATK,” he said.

McAdams also vowed to complete the Jessie E. Quinney Ballet Center, as well as most of the Jordan River Trail. In addition, he pushed for renewal of the Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) fund—something that will be decided by voters later this year.

One of the major points from McAdams’ speech was reforming the way the county works with repeat criminal offenders. He announced a new initiative called “Better Futures,” designed to give high-risk adults more opportunities. He described the initiative as “results-based.”

“With ‘Better Futures’ we’ll offer the opportunity of different options for ex-offenders, so that they can become contributing members of society, provide for themselves and their families and reduce costly trips through the revolving door of our courts and jails,” said McAdams.

Perhaps the mayor’s most emphatic point came when he discussed the new 911 merger between the Unified Police Department and the Valley Emergency Communications Center. He called it a necessary step, but stressed that the arrangement still has kinks to work out.

The next step is for regional 911 to be seamless,” McAdams said. “We must finalize the selection of and move to a single software system. It’s unacceptable for a citizen of this valley—in 2014—to sit on hold for 13 minutes—as happened last year—while confusion reigns among dispatchers, who struggle with a patch-work system. Especially since Salt Lake County stepped up to fund the solution.”

Save for a brief mention at the conclusion of his remarks, Mayor McAdams did not address the issue of air quality in the county. Conversely, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker made that issue the focus of his State of the City address last week.

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