Belle carries goals from 2012 into new year

ABERDEEN – Since taking office last May, Mayor Cecil Belle has worked on tying loose ends carried over from his first term at the helm of Aberdeen, which ended in 2008. Accomplishments along the lines of securing direct deposit for city employees and consolidating the public works departments into a centralized location have either been completed or are on the verge of completion.
Throughout the last half of 2012, implementing a series of town hall meetings along with taking and addressing citizens’ concerns are tidbits he’s used to focus on the public’s best interests. For 2013, he wants to continue that stride by continuing the foundation laid in his first year of the term while aiming for a few new goals.
“By the end of the year, I want to see more jobs coming to town. I hope our hotel and business center will be complete with the solar plant soon to follow. I’m also looking for more homes to be built,” Belle said.
Officials broke ground in November on an economic development at Stinson Industrial Park, headed off by the upcoming construction of a MainStays Suite hotel. Belle said a business center and solar plant will also help anchor the project dubbed the Aberdeen Economic Development and Energy Initiative.
Aberdeen continues to work with Pierson Technology in completing the steps to bring a biofuel plant to the Port of Aberdeen, where Belle sees more opportunities for the future.
“MDOT is doing a complete study of the port and we’ll use that to try to find more avenues to generate revenue. I want to work on securing a transport loading facility and railspur at the port as well, which would create more jobs,” Belle said.
Through Aberdeen’s housing initiative program, potential homeowners walked through the steps of making their dream a potential reality. He hopes to duplicate the program with a business initiative this year.
“We’ve brainstormed with Aberdeen Main Street, the Aberdeen Visitor Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce in how to retain business, but have also had several new businesses start up in the last year. That shows people are still interested in locating here so we’re looking at having professionals lead a series of programs that will educate people interested in starting more new businesses,” Belle said.
The board of aldermen recently approved the Adopt a Park program and only General Young Park is the last remaining city park unspoken for at the time. Through Aberdeen’s adjudication process, several dilapidated houses have been demolished with several more on the list for 2013.
Aside from beautification projects, Belle wants to build on recreation by providing for more festivals to follow in the success as staples like the Pilgrimage and Bukka White Blues Festival. He also wants to build on the park and recreation department to provide more for children and adults alike.
Another way of reaching out to younger generations is the Mayor’s Youth Council he plans on implementing soon to enrich the lives of Aberdeen High School students.
“I think the town’s attitude has changed with this new board and people are happier with the perception of the town. With everybody working together, it gives the whole town more hope. Hopefully that new attitude will bring more people into town from the bypass to see everything we’re working for in Aberdeen,” Belle said.

RAY VAN DUSEN/MONROE JOURNALABERDEEN MAYOR – Mayor Cecil Belle looks to bring 2012 goals into 2013 in addition to a new list of challenges.

RAY VAN DUSEN/MONROE JOURNAL
ABERDEEN MAYOR – Mayor Cecil Belle looks to bring 2012 goals into 2013 in addition to a new list of challenges.

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.