MARION (WSIL) -- Marion mayor, Mike Absher, gave his "State of the City" address Monday night at a city council meeting. The council discussed accomplishments over the last two years along current projects and plans for the future.
The three-part presentation highlighted new businesses looking to call Marion home and adding jobs. One of the latest announcements being Readerlink moving into the "Circuit City building" on the west side of town.
"The biggest accomplishments really in terms of numerical number of jobs, is Readerlink. I want to tell you what Readerlink is--I didn't know what it was until we started pursuing them and they started pursing Marion. It's the largest distributor of hardback, trade and paperback books in North America," Absher said.
The city's four commissioners showcased the departments they oversee.
John Stoecklin, the Public Works Commissioner, provided a list of plans to build a new water tower and improve aging sewers.
Commissioner Jim Webb talked about future plans for the city's streets and cemetery.
Public Healthy and Safety Commissioner, John Barwick, discussed the city's animal control, police and fire departments. The fire department has just purchased a new fire truck with help from the Harrison-Bruce Foundation.
Commissioner Doug Patton discussed the city's finances. Marion changed it's tax structure more than a year ago, eliminating the city portion of property taxes and increasing the sales tax. Despite the pandemic, Marion maintained a surplus budget.
Mayor Absher shared plans to update the town's square, which includes adding fountains and even a seasonal ice skating area. Meanwhile, private investments from community members are rehabbing some of the older buildings in the downtown.
One of the biggest and most exciting announcements came with the plans for the former Marion Star Centre Mall. Rodney Cabaness and Shad Zimbro, owners of Black Diamond Harley-Davison and several other Marion businesses, plan to develop the old mall and the surrounding area into a large ATV/UTV dealership along with a large multi-faceted entertainment complex that even includes a golf driving range.
"Our franchise that we're seeking is called Bigshots. I don't know if you're familiar with Topgolf, it's a similar development as Topgolf, but it's called Bigshots," he said.
Other announcements at the meeting included plans for the former Motel Marion site which will include a strip mall and duplexes.