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Moline Mayor Acri says state of city is strong; two promotions announced

Moline Mayor Acri says state of city is strong; two promotions announced

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Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri said the city is strong and "filled with opportunity" in her annual state-of-the-city address Monday, while acknowledging challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

"This past year has brought unprecedented challenges and hardships to so many Moliners," Acri said. "The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on families, businesses and everyday life is not something any of us will forget. We lived through history; and future generations will remember Moline as a community that came together in the most difficult circumstances to care for, support and assist one another.

"I know you join me in the pride we all have for our city employees for their determination to deliver services to our community through the most challenging days. We took incredible steps to keep Moline functioning and viable during the pandemic."

Acri said the city is financially stable with a balanced budget, which has reduced tax rates for the fourth year in a row.

Moline Rotary Club President Dougal Nelson opened the state-of-the-city address, broadcast virtually on YouTube, highlighting the theme of "Strength Through Preparation and Partnerships."

"We are proud to be a fundamental part of the city of Moline," Nelson said. "We recognize this past year has presented both challenges and opportunities for our city."

Acri applauded some of those partnerships, including with the Moline-Coal Valley School District in its efforts to expand broadband internet accessibility so more students could access e-learning during the pandemic; with Project NOW as they worked to provide Chromebooks to disadvantaged children and senior citizens; the police department's incorporation of a social worker to provide better services; and with the Urban Land Institute, as they continue planning with the city on the redevelopment of land at the base of the old I-74 bridge when it becomes available.

Acri also celebrated the city's successful partnership with Mercado on Fifth, the Hispanic farmer's market held every Friday night along Fifth Avenue in the Floreciente neighborhood. 

Mercado on Fifth president and co-founder Maria Ontiveros said the city's special events committee has been good to work with in overcoming obstacles in expanding the market and has given grants to Mercado on Fifth for the purchase of street banners. 

"The business community needs to be as diverse as our population," Ontiveros said. "I value diversity on a basic level. Everyone who wants to start a business should be able to."

Acri said there are many "other things the city is working on that don't always grab the headlines," among them the delivery of services, "the recruitment of key staff and the developing of a culture of customer service.

"Our state of the city is strong, vibrant, filled with opportunity, and I'm joyful for the days to come."

Hours before the state-of-the-city address, Moline announced that city council members will likely vote to approve Joe Kuhlenbeck as interim director of public works and the promotion of Tony Loete from utilities general manager to director of utilities during Tuesday night's city council meeting.  

Current Public Works Director J.D. Schulte is resigning after more than 30 years with the city; his last working day will be March 19. Kuhlenbeck has been in the city's public works department for three years and has more than 20 years of experience in the construction industry. 

"Kuhlenbeck brings strong communication and leadership skills to the role, and with the I-74 project at a crucial phase, a strong leader in place at public works will be an asset in the days to come," City Clerk Janine Hollembaek Parr said in a press release. 

Loete has been employed in the public works department for more than 30 years. He was promoted to utilities general manager in August 2016.

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