Shelby main street project rednering

An artist's rendering from the Shelby Main Street Corridor downtown revitalization plan.

SHELBY -- Shelby Mayor Steven Schag was full of optimism as he gave a State of the City address at last week's council meeting.

Schag cited the completion of multiple improvement projects as evidence that the city is healthy, fiscally sound and well-positioned for the future.

The city saw utilities upgrades and modernization in 2019 with the construction of a 2.5-megawatt solar array and the $8.9 million upgrade to the city’s wastewater treatment Plant.

“Perhaps the crowning jewel of last year’s achievements was the completion of our 14-acre State Street solar field,” Schag said. “This was the culmination of years of careful study and strategic planning.”

Schag praised John Ensman, director of utilities and deputy director of public service, for his guidance of the project.

“His knowledge of and passion for public utilities is unsurpassed in our region,” he said.

Shelby’s utilities developments will continue into 2020. The West Main Street sewer project is “well under way” and will provide city sewer service to 24 parcel owners on West Main Street.

Ensman said the contractor is on schedule with the project, which he expects to be completed in early May, barring any change due to weather or unforeseen issues.

The city government is also exploring the possibility of citywide broadband.

"We are working through the necessary steps to make the municipally owned and operated broadband a reality," Ensman said.

The city is currently preparing a broadband needs assessment and feasibility study to see if the project is a feasible undertaking for the city, which will take between four and five months.

"Once the study is launched, it will take approximately four to five months to gather the required data," Ensman said. "If the study indicates the broadband project is feasible, the next steps would be to design and engineer the project layout.

"Both of the mentioned steps would carry the project timeline into 2021. The actual build out of the fiber to the home or business would probably start in late 2021."

Ensman noted these steps will only be carried out with city council's approval.

The mayor also highlighted community development accomplishments, such as the completion of the Black Fork Commons Amphitheater and citywide paving project. 

He also hinted at the advancement of the Main Street Corridor Plan, a revitalization initiative consisting of three projects including a Main Street streetscape installation.

“Downtown Shelby will have a whole new visual appeal in the years to come as a result of major streetscape enhancements and additional aesthetic improvements," Schag said.

Jessica Gribben of the Richland Area Chamber said revitalizing a downtown can have a ripple effect on the local economy and promote growth.

"The downtown is your city center. It's the core of the city, it's really the heart of the city," said Gribben, the economic development liaison for Shelby. "It allows the citizens to have a sense of pride about their place and that's really half the battle."

The mayor also commended the city’s various public officials for their service, especially in the wake of the tornado that cut across the south section of Shelby then moving northeast across several different townships.

“I cannot say enough about how this Community pulled together in the aftermath of that eventful day,” Schag said. “We are so blessed to have capable leadership in place, such as our Director of Public Utilities John Ensman, Fire Chief Mike Thompson, Police Chief Lance Combs, and the extraordinary personnel that serve with them.

"As a mayor, it was comforting and reassuring to me that our city was under the oversight of these devoted public servants.”

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