Dawn of a new era

New Madison Mayor Armstrong
is ready for business

Former baseball coach takes the field in a new game

By Don Ward

(February 2008) – Tim Armstrong says he didn’t do it for the money or the glory. He ran for mayor of Madison to set a different course for his beloved hometown and to raise the bar for excellence. He believes Madison can do better and, after only three weeks in office, he has set out on a course to prove it.

Tim Armstrong

Photo by Don Ward

Mayor Tim Armstrong is working to
unite community groups with a
common strategy for success.

“I’ve lived here all of my life, and I wanted more for my community,” he said of his decision to run for office. “We’ve done a lot, but there’s so much more that we can do.”
During an hour-long interview in his newly remodeled office Jan. 24, the 47-year-old former police detective captain and high school baseball coach outlined his goals and described the whirlwind of activity he had experienced since taking the oath of office on Jan. 1.
“It’s been crazy, but it’s all been good. We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Armstrong, a Democrat who defeated 13-year incumbent Republican Al Huntington in the Nov. 6 election.
He says he wants to bring the various organizations and groups together to work for the overall good of Madison. With the 200-year Madison Bicentennial Celebration coming up in 2009 and the Madison Bicentennial Park development under way, he believes he has the perfect opportunity to do so.
“We’ve got good groups out there, but we need to bring these groups together so we are all working on one strategy or plan for our future,” he said.
He was referring to such entities as the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Madison Main Street Program, Historic Madison Inc., the Madison Riverfront Development Committee and the newly formed Madison Bicentennial Committee.
Armstrong began his term by selecting the people who would form his new administration. He retained two former city hall staffers – engineer Randy Eggenspiller and fire chief Steve Horton. Harold Pewee Lakeman had served as purchasing manager for Huntington but has been tapped by Armstrong to serve as parks director. It’s a position Lakeman held for 13 years prior to Huntington’s reign.
Armstrong selected his longtime friend, John Wallace, to serve as police chief, replacing the recently retired Bob Wolf. Andy Lytle was hired as Special Projects Administrator and will serve on the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Board as the mayor’s appointment. Mike Hoffman is serving as Building Inspector.
Armstrong is also working closely with newly elected Dave Adams, a Republican who was voted to replace Clerk-Treasurer Beverly Armstrong, who retired after 16 years. Adams relinquished his position on the City Council to run for the post.
In addition, the City Council has undergone a dramatic re-ordering, with the November election of four new members, three of them Democrats and no women – Democrat Rick Berry (2nd District), Democrat Pete Backus (3rd District), Democrat Darrell Henderson (5th District) and Republican Damon Welch (At Large). They now sit on the council with Democrat Bob Schoenstein (1st District) and Republicans Jim Lee (4th District) and Bob May (At Large).
With the first two City Council meetings behind him, Armstrong said he has now shaken off the jitters and is ready to get down to work. He has spent much of his time meeting with representatives of business, industry and various organizations. He has met with outgoing and incoming department heads to assess the current status of projects and problems of running the city. He has attended countless meetings and sat in on strategy sessions as he strives to get a grasp on his new job.
Armstrong has spent a lot of time with Corey Murphy, executive director of the Madison-Jefferson County Industrial Development Corp in devising strategies to promote job growth and lure businesses to the new Industrial Park on the hilltop. He has heard from industry leaders on areas in need of improvement for Madison to become a stonger competitor in the industrial sector.
“We are way behind in many respects, and we need to do everything we can to catch up, or neighboring communities are going to pass us by,” he said.
For instance, he is having the city’s website overhauled. He is meeting with state officials in February to keep pressure on funding for a future “replacement bridge” for the 78-year-old Ohio River Bridge connecting Madison and Milton, Ky.
Armstrong reported news on two other ongoing projects – that progress would soon be made on the Madison Riverfront Development project and the Heritage Trail bicycle and walking path leading from the hilltop to the downtown riverfront.
The long-delayed approval of the next phase of the Madison Riverfront development was forwarded to state officials on Jan. 25 for final approval. Once approved, nearly $1 million in funding will be released to continue developing the sidewalk east to the bridge and complete work on the river overlook, he said. The bidding on the project could take place as early as June, with the work to begin by August.
The Heritage Trail, meanwhile, had been held up due to a property dispute in the downtown area near the former Madison Railroad incline. A solution to resolving the dispute was “in sight,” he said. The final leg of the path from the bottom of the incline to the riverfront has yet to be paved. Another phase on the hilltop has not yet started, but federal transportation enhancement funds totaling nearly $1 million has been pledged for the project.
Armstrong admits he has a full plate but is committed to exploring all his options. Among his short-range goals are cleaner streets. He wants to restart the now-defunct Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program in local schools. He wants to create a Merit Board to handle personnel matters in the police department. And he wants to create an open-door atmosphere to allow citizens to become more involved.
“I ran on a platform of change, and I am committed to that,” he said. “I want more people to become involved in local government. Madison is essentially the people, and I want them to be able to participate in presenting ideas and be allowed to help put them into action.”

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