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South Salt Lake Journal

Mayor talks accomplishments and plans in her 13th State of the City address

May 08, 2023 02:35PM ● By Bill Hardesty

Residents, partners, invitees and employees gather for the 2023 State of the City presentation. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood gave her 13th State of the City speech during a dinner at the Columbus Center on March 13.

Previous to the mayor’s speech, a joint honor guard of SSLFD and SSLPD, under the direction of SSLPD Chief Jack Carruth, presented the colors. Edward Lopez of Promise SSL read the land acknowledgment and, as an accomplished singer, sang “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand,” a song made famous by Diana Ross.

While introducing the mayor, Rick Taggart, the MC for the evening, mentioned that Wood recently celebrated her 30th anniversary of public service with the City of South Salt Lake.

“I was 19 when I started to work for the city,” Wood said. “My first boss was the finance director, and she said just think you can retire in 30 years. So I never thought I would stay working in public service.”


At the beginning of her speech, Wood thanked groups, partners and employees. She especially pointed out a particular group of Public Works employees.

“I would specifically like to recognize the winter hidden heroes of our community. A group of South Salt Lake employees that we affectionately call snowfighters,” Wood said. “These 11 individuals have truly stepped up to keep our city on the move during this year’s record snowfall. The streets crew has worked more than 1,200 hours over 28 days during active winter storms to ensure that our 77 miles of pavement are safe for residents to get to work, school, and for our businesses to stay open.”

2022–The year of the big lift

Traditionally, the mayor’s speech outlines significant accomplishments from the previous year. However, Wood pointed out the 2022 accomplishments were different.

“South Salt Lake, like many other cities in Utah and all around the country, has aging infrastructure and lagging revenue to fix that infrastructure. I’m talking about essential things like roads, water and sewer systems, and public buildings,” Wood said. “But infrastructure also refers to public safety and essential city staff. For more than 10 years, our city lacked the courage and commitment to make what I’m calling ‘the big lift’—funding these essential items. Instead, we kicked the can down the road.”

Wood expressed pride in the council and city staff, who “made the hard decisions, took courageous actions to address these critical issues, and invested in our city’s future.”

Some of the items that were noted included:


• Bonded for a new well which will supply water for the next 50 years

• Instituted a stormwater utility fund that provides funds to keep SSL compliant with local, state and federal stormwater standards

• Established a Public Infrastructure District providing funds for improving sewer infrastructure paid by downtown developers

Property purchases

• Secured land along Oakland Avenue to expand the City’s Public Works campus

• Purchased land west of State Street for new parks and amenities

Public Safety

• Instituted a Public Safety tax levy providing a stable funding source for the police and fire departments

“This was a difficult lift,” Wood said.

City Employees

• Conducted an industry salary survey increasing pay for employees along with benefits boosts

Other accomplishments included:

• Community Garden at Fitts Park

• Community Opportunity (Co-Op) Center at the Columbus Center

• Granite Library branch

• Improved playground equipment and shade sails at Fitts Park

• Neighborhood Connect

• Youth cooking competition

• FlashVote, CivicRec, Give Pulse, and a rebuilt website

• Civilian Review Board

• Well-lit streets, including 962 LED streetlights

• Additional Community Resource pantries at Historic Scott School, Central Park and the Co-Op

• Partnering with Mosaic Interfaith Ministries located at the Historic Scott School

• “Best Friends Designation” for the SSL animal shelter

• New celebrations such as Juneteenth, Nepali New Year, the 1520 Arts Block party, Brazilian Summer Festival, and the Pacific Islander Heritage Fashion Show

2023–Press Play!

“I’m feeling excited and optimistic about 2023. My optimism comes from the support this year’s budget received from the City Council and the community,” Wood said. “With newly approved funding, South Salt Lake can provide the level of services and amenities our community needs and deserves. We are ‘pressing play’ and are off and running.”

The mayor’s top priorities for 2023 are:

• Housing including a Housing Plan that ensures the right mix of housing in the right neighborhoods

• Pamela Atkinson Homeless Resource Center, including setting the bar of care

• Promise SSL expanding to the young adult realm with “wrap-around supports”

• Community Development Department with a new director, Jonathan Weidenhamer

• Light-filled birthday party night to celebrate SSL’s 85th birthday in September

• More street lighting improvements

• Historic Scott School upgrades

• New dog park on Oakland Avenue

• Fire Department will get a new tiller fire truck and three new ambulances

• Police department will conduct Crisis Intervention Team training

• New bridge for Parley’s Trail at 900 West

• Citywide Water Conservation efforts

“If all of this sounds like a lot of fun, I am glad to finally share this moment with you,” Wood concluded. “It has been a lot of work together to get to this point. I think we all deserve a cheer. You can join me in ‘pressing play.’”

State of City Awards

The State of the City awards recognizes the people and businesses that “make South Salt Lake truly a community.” More information about recipients is available on the city’s website.

• Citizen of the Year – Joy Glad

• Legacy Family of the Year – The Dipo Family

• United Way and Promise SSL Partner of the Year – Circles Salt Lake

• Education Partner of the Year – Woodrow Wilson Elementary

• Community Advocate – Hoang Nguyen

• Employee of the Year – Hanna Tuia (Community Development Department)

• City Council Champion – LeAnne Huff

• Equity Champion – South Salt Lake Recreation Department

• Mentor of the Year – Randy Sant (Who received a standing ovation)

• Volunteers of the Year – Wendy and Lisa Miner

• Changemaker Award – Police Chief Jack Carruth (Who also received a standing ovation)

• Community Champion Award – Bill Hardesty

• Best Creative Industry award – Old Cuss Cafe

• Best Lunch Spot – Moochie’s, Meatballs and More!

• Best Small Business – Curly Hair Studio λ