Editor’s Note: This is the text of Irmo Mayor Bary Walker’s State of the Town Address
Back in December 2020, 10 months into the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, I delivered my inaugural State of the town address. Irmo citizens were locked down, scared to interact with each other, concerned about meeting at church or even going to the grocery store.
We didn’t know how this virus was being transmitted, we didn’t have a vaccine or a safe treatment if you got it. All we knew that if your immune system was compromised and you got COVID, you probably would die.
We as a town protected ourselves and stayed safe. The lacuna in the COVID-19 manuscript made it confusing read. But we as a town persevered. Not only did we persevere but we grow exponentially.
This past year Irmo attracted hundreds of new businesses, hundreds of new local jobs and added more than 20 acres of new public green space. We protected our first responders by giving them the best equipment possible. We restructured our town hall to operate more efficiently to respond to the citizens needs quickly. We increased our town budget, generated more revenue, increased our financial reserves to the tune of more than 6 million dollars. We’ve done all this with no tax increase and by simply spending less than we took in.
Over the last year the town council and staff have found ways to grow Irmo Police Department staff and resources, upgrade essential Public Works services, expand our parks, and promote a sense of community coming out of the pandemic. Now that we have a new normal. The council created an events committee that generated monthly events for free to the public. The Town was able to give away hundreds of thousands of grant dollars to Irmo non-profits. Citizens used these grants to create the Irmo Outreach Committee, create a Juneteenth celebration, an International arts festival, a fall music festival and work collaboratively with citizens to open a community garden and dog park, to name a few.
In the near future Irmo Police Department will research how we can use current technology to put a network of real time video surveillance cameras in high traffic areas.
In the near future we will work with the Richland County to widen Broad River Road from I-26 to Ballentine. This is on track and you will begin to see progress early next year.
In the near future as part of the new normal, the Town of Irmo will embrace over the fence opportunities to meet your neighbors at regular events in our parks
In the near future Irmo will work closely with our chamber of commerce to attract new businesses that will relocate in our town.
We will be able to accomplish all of this while still having a surplus at the end of our annual budget.
It has been stated that citizens receive more from the Town of Irmo today than they did prior to my election as Mayor of Irmo.
Yes, our town is moving forward, Moving forward but not forgetting our past. That’s why tonight we are recognizing our 132nd founder’s day (Our Birthday). Irmo officially was incorporated on Christmas Eve 1890, take a minute to look at copies of the original incorporation documents on display here tonight. We have come a long way please celebrate with us.
I would like to thank my colleagues on the Irmo Town Council, Bill Danielson, Erik Sickenger, Barb Waldman and Kelly Bush for being the visionaries they are. The Council and staff has worked tirelessly to build up a synergy between the School District, the County Councils and relationships between the State legislature and Federal government representatives. Folks, this is how you get things done for our Town.
Rebranding our town after 132 years is part of our commitment to you. A new normal, a new sense of Community and a new town flag. The town of Irmo is financially doing well and growing with smart strategic annexations.
Ladies and Gentlemen I am so very proud and thankful to be your Mayor and this is the state of our town.
First Lady Susan Walker and I want to wish you a blessed, peaceful and healthy merry Christmas and happy new year, and may God continue to bless Irmo, SC.
Mayor Barry A. Walker, Sr.