PEORIA- Mayor Jim Ardis looks back at Peoria's high's and lows of 2012 in his "State of the City" address.
Almost 700 community leaders came to hear Mayor Jim Ardis sum up the year that was. Ardis said looking back, education is the biggest challenge facing the River City.
"In Peoria, on one hand we're facing real and perceived weaknesses with our largest area school district, while on the other hand we're benefiting from an extraordinary array of educational opportunities," Ardis said.
By "perceived weakness" Ardis said he meant the notion that District 150 is a failing institution, Ardis said it's not. He said that district leadership has a lot to do in terms of changing that image as well as fighting the challenges of poverty.
Ardis also said neighboring communities should work together on economic growth, not compete.
"The entire region benefits when Bass Pro Shops opens in East Peoria. When Five Points expands because of their success in Washington, it's a win for the whole area," he said.
The mayor also talked about Peoria's new anti-violence initiative. Looking to 2013, Ardis said "Don't Shoot will continue to grow. He says getting community support and awareness was just the first phase of the program.
"Keep in mind, "Don't Shoot" is not going to be over in 2013. It literally is just the beginning. They've been doing it out in high point for over 20 years."
Although vague, Ardis did mention other changes coming to one of the city's most run-down areas.
"After a great deal of planning and investment, look for exciting things to begin happening in the warehouse district this year."
Also in the works, Ardis says he wants to get the community connected to passenger rail.
"Both of our city managers and I met with transportation secretary ray LaHood last week to continue to express our needs in this area," Ardis said.
Even though LaHood is stepping down, Ardis says the plans were presented just in time, and everyone is on board.
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