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Union Celebrates America Event Highly Rated; City Staff Poised for Success

After nine years, a survey shows that residents still enjoy Union's "Union Celebrates America" event.

The event was held for the ninth time on June 30 as the traditionally first local event around the July 4 holiday.

“Overall, I think these results clearly indicate what we already knew: Union Celebrates America was a great event,” said Mayor Larry Solomon. “This year’s event had the largest crowd on record, with more than 3,700 estimated attendees. The City of Union, along with the staff of Boone County Parks, are to be commended for organizing such an outstanding event.  I hope everyone will mark their calendars for June 29, 2018, for the next Union Celebrates America.  My direction to our staff is to make next year’s event even bigger and better!”

Overall, 68 percent of responders rated the event very good or excellent, with 89 percent rating the event at least as good. In organization, the event also received high praise, with 70 percent of survey responders thinking that the event was very organized or extremely organized.

82 percent of the responders to the survey felt the event was about right or just a bit short in length. The 2017 event timetable was adjusted to allow for the fireworks to be detonated about 30 minutes earlier than scheduled to beat out an impending severe storm that hit the area around 10:30 p.m.

Staff friendliness was also rated highly, with 80 percent of responders rating the staff as very friendly or extremely friendly. Responders also felt they got information about the event ahead of time as well, with 68 percent responding that they received most or all of the information they needed to attend the event prior to the scheduled date. The venue location received the most praise with 93 percent of responders rating the location as good to excellent.

Individual comments commended the parade and fireworks, with several special mention to the Wulfe Brothers Band, who performed in the headline role.  Other comments included more community participation in 2017; fantastic fireworks and hometown feel and the addition of food trucks and more bounce houses from previous events.

Attendees did note the lack of a high school band in the parade as a downside. While local bands had been invited according to city staff, KSHAA “dead period” rules prohibited any of the area high school marching bands, including nearby Ryle High School, from participating in the parade. The “dead period” is mandated by the state high school association, and usually falls during the scheduled date of the annual event. 

One suggestion was made to include music to synchronize with the fireworks show, which is currently being planned for the 2018 celebration.  The city is also looking to address a complaint of long drink lines with the addition of water stations run by local organizations in the area.

City staff poised for long-term success

City of Union Mayor Larry Solomon has released an updated staffing organizational chart showing the reorganization of the city staff.

The City of Union is now the second largest city in Boone County, growing at a rate of approximately 2 percent per year, Solomon said. It is projected that by 2020, Union's population will be between 8,000 and 10,000 people. In the past when the City of Union’s population was 2-3,000, it was appropriate for there to be a City Commission and one full-time employee, Solomon said.  

“It is important to stay ahead of the game so the City of Union can better manage growth.  Growth will not stop coming; I prefer to manage it, than it manage us,” he said. 

The new system reorganizes all city staff under the direction of the new city administrator, David Plummer.

Melissa Hinkle, who has served as the communications coordinator since September of 2016 has been moved to communications and operations director, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the city office, in addition to her duties as the chief public relations contact for Union.

Donna Wahoff was appointed to the position of city clerk in June, and has taken over the primary responsibility for city forms, public information requests and compliance with city, county and state laws, particularly in the areas of records retention and maintaining office files and systems.

Christy Everman, who has served as administrative assistant for the city since August of 2016, remains on in her capacity as the primary point of contact for office visitors, and continues to handle the day-to-day organization and structure for the city financial records, including accounts payable and receivable. She was hired as a permanent member of city staff in June, moving from a temporary position with the city.

The city is in the final stages of filling a part-time position as a city treasurer, and hopes to announce that individual in the fall. This person will have administrative oversight for the city’s finances and will assist in preparing financial documentation for commission meetings and the annual state audit.

“These changes position Union for long-term growth,” Solomon said. “Union is the fastest growing city in Northern Kentucky, and we need a stable, organized and competent staff in place to keep pace with that growth.  The team we have assembled is ideal to help Union continue to grow and reach its full potential as the place to live in Northern Kentucky.”

-Staff report