Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012 | 5:12 p.m.
North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck offered thanks to the community Thursday for helping the recession-ravaged city recover, but challenged businesses and residents to do even more.
Speaking at the Texas Station Casino Hotel during the annual State of the City luncheon, Buck also vowed that the municipal government would help foster the recovery by taking steps to improve collaboration between the public and private sector.
“Now is the time to stand up, now is the time to contribute, now is the time to make a difference,” she said, encouraging businesses to build on extensive vacant space within city boundaries. “Fifty percent of our land is still available."
Buck and other city leaders dispensed plenty of thanks for patience, contributions and special efforts made by residents during the past year, acknowledged a tough 2011, and talked of better times to come at the annual event.
North Las Vegas has been hit particularly hard in recent years, battered by high home foreclosures, declining development and general business setbacks. As is generally the case at such early year events, speakers City Manager Timothy Hacker, North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce chairman Mike PeQueen and Buck focused on more positive aspects of the city and economy.
PeQueen set a tone early in remarks about the community’s ability to “grow and adapt,” characteristics he said were essential to survival.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but those most adaptive to change,” PeQueen said, before reflecting on the economy. “What goes down does eventually go up — just not on the timeline we’d prefer.”
He pointed to the new City Hall building, which opened in November and cost less than originally projected, as something that would make North Las Vegas stronger and more efficient.
“The ability to have all city services under one roof is a unique advantage,” he said.
The audience watched a video presentation outlining community and economic highlights of the past year. The city’s theme for 2012 is “Go North.”
Buck, a native of North Las Vegas, cited the city’s community values, amenities and what she called a “pro-business environment” as positives going forward. She pointed to city parks, trails, infrastructural improvements, increased use of solar energy and an improved multigenerational recreation center as things to be proud of. Buck listed a number of awards won by the city during the past year, along with grants it had successfully landed, as evidence it is on the right track.
She also complimented Hacker, who assumed his duties in September. In a brief look back, she acknowledged that staff layoffs, a contested election and budget deficit had made a large impact on city officials last year.
“It left us all feeling worn out, stressed out and underappreciated,” she said, admitting that cutbacks had affected some city services, but that community outreach programs and public safety remained largely intact.
Buck also sang the praises of North Las Vegas residents and supporters, citing as an example that more than 2,200 volunteers had turned out to perform community service on “Make a Difference Day” in October.
Numerous past and present elected officials and a number of political candidates from around the Valley were in the audience.
Mitch Fox served as master of ceremonies for the event. Among food items that were served were shrimp from Blue Oasis, a company in North Las Vegas that grows and harvests shrimp, and was among a number of economic highlights Buck cited.