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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Murray faces public on 'Ask the Mayor' live show

Thursday, October 4, 2012

(Photo)
Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray and "Ask the Mayor" host Stan Jastrzebski discuss the issues of the city with a live audience during a Monday taping of the show at the Swizzle Stick.
(Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN) [Order this photo]
Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray is becoming a veteran on the weekly WFIU radio program "Ask the Mayor" but her Monday evening experience on the program was entirely new.

The program, which normally offers direct access to four area mayors by email, phone and Twitter, made a live visit to the Swizzle Stick in downtown Greencastle as part of a live show tour.

So instead of a phone conversations with host Stan Jastrzebski and questions coming in over the wires, Murray and Jastrzebski were across the table from one another, with questions coming from but a few feet away.

(Photo)
Mayor Sue Murray faced some tough questions from the crowd, including how to improve relations between Greencastle residents and students of DePauw and Ivy Tech.
( Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN)
The mayor, the host and their modest audience covered a variety of subjects during the 50-minute program, some very real (the Stellar Communities grant) and some but a pipe dream at this point (a U.S. 231 bypass of downtown).

The heart of the evening, though, seemed to be that of progress, of a vision for the city shared by Mayor Murray and other city leaders.

Asked by Jastrzebski how she would like the city viewed from the outside, Murray said she wants Greencastle seen as "the whole package."

"We're going to be viewed as an amazing small city ... That's strategically located... That is one of the best college towns in the U.S. but also has an incredible mix of opportunity for people of all backgrounds and offers a quality of life that you can't find in 90 percent of small cities in the United States," Murray said.

But saying it is one thing. Murray spent much of the program highlighting the partnerships that will make the vision for the city possible.

When making this a great college town, those partners are obviously DePauw and Ivy Tech.

"We're a college town. Let's embrace the best that brings to us," Murray said.

A big obstacle to this has always been the disconnect between the city and its college students -- both real and perceived. Murray said she thought the negative perception of the relationship has always been overblown and somewhat self-perpetuated.

The collaborative effort that brought the Stellar grant to town, and its most obvious fruit to date -- the downtown DePauw bookstore -- are signs of progress on this front.

"I don't think we've done a good job for 175 years. I don't think we've appreciated each other very well," Murray said. "People are beginning to understand it's not a terribly difficult three blocks."

When it comes to job opportunities, the partnerships are obviously with industries. Asked what the city has had to offer to get recent investments at sites such as Phoenix Closures, the spec building, FB Distro and Crown Equipment, her answer was simple -- "tax abatement for 10 years."

The mayor also highlighted other things the city has offered such as job training, assistance with the rail spur for Phoenix, road work for Crown and the ever important location, location, location.

The city was surprised recently, however, when one of those partners offered something back in the form of a $100,000 gift from Heartland Automotive.

Near the end of a meeting with Heartland's president, he hit the mayor with a big surprise.

"He said, 'We would like to give you $100,000,'" Murray said. "That doesn't happen very often ... that never happens."

"Ask the Mayor" focuses on issues facing communities in central Indiana, and everything from potholes to tax policy is often covered in 30-minute interviews with the mayors of Terre Haute, Kokomo and Bloomington in addition to Greencastle.

WFIU radio can be found at 103.7 FM, Bloomington. Programming also airs over 95.1 FM in Terre Haute.

The live program with Mayor Murray aired on Wednesday, but the complete 50-minute conversation can be heard at indianapublicmedia.org/mayor/greencastle-mayor-sue-murray-person/.



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