COLUMN: Reflections

Published 11:18 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2023

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To be elected mayor of one’s home city is a tremendous honor. I am proud to have served a community which has been so good to me and my family. I believe that it is important for everyone to serve their community in whatever capacity their individual skill set allows.

As I reflect on the past six years, we have many accomplishments for which we should be proud. I say “we,” because no one member of City Council can proceed with the city’s business without the cooperation and collaboration of all its members. Having said that, please indulge me as I share a few of the city’s accomplishments.

Financially, your city is in a very strong position. Our bond rating has improved and provided us with the opportunity to borrow needed funds for capital improvement at competitive rates. Through the efforts of the city manager and council actions, our capital reserves are the highest they have been in decades. Working with the commissioner of the revenue and the city treasurer, we have provided extended benefits to veterans and Gold Star families. Our delinquent taxes have decreased significantly. 

Our city departments are staffed with very capable and knowledgeable leadership. The Police Department has been successful in recruiting and retaining new officers. Fire and Rescue has successfully extended its service coverage to Southampton County. Other departments have diligently worked to keep our eight square miles well-maintained. 

We have improved our parks with the dedication of the River Walk, a generous donation from International Paper, and the soon-to-be officially opened Blackwater Park. Our parks are ADA-compliant with improved facilities. The King Center is in a time of transition because of the completion of Hayden Village, and we look to improve the Armory Field complex with a new multiuse facility for community needs. Through collaborative agreements with Camp Community College, we assist in supporting its athletic programs and look forward to a continued long-term relationship with them.

After 30 years, Pretlow Industrial Park is “sold out.” Our Business Center is 100% occupied, and we are in the process of kicking off our fourth round of “Start Up” programs. We have reinstituted our Fourth of July celebration, continued with the annual Christmas parade, and started the Soul Fest celebration and the Lumber Jack festival. 

I have been fortunate to participate in many ribbon cuttings as we welcome and celebrate multiple new businesses to our community. Our downtown looks better than it did before the flood and is thriving. Also, we have reestablished our partnerships with local corporations to provide continued philanthropic support to our community and its citizens.

As I leave, I say thank you for the community support, the new friendships, and mostly, the opportunity to serve. A special thanks to my family for their understanding of the early-morning and late calls and texts, the weekend events and multiple other obligations. I think we have left the city in as good if not better position than we started. 

I wish you all the best in the years ahead. I am not saying goodbye, just saying I’ll see you around!

FRANK M. RABIL is the former mayor of the city of Franklin.