A Publication of WTVP

As I put together my thoughts for this issue, I can't help but wonder, "What happened to 2006?" Here we are in November already, when it seems like only last month we put away the shovels to prepare for spring. Now it's time to get the shovels out again. The holidays always provide us with an opportunity to reflect, and in this month especially, we all have an opportunity to give thanks for our many blessings. I thought it was appropriate for me to do so this month.

First and foremost, I am thankful to live in a community that has begun to embrace its diversity. In our faith-based community, I see people of all faiths joining hands to face our challenges. Faith-based groups from throughout the city are beginning to converge, as we realize how much stronger we are as a united group than as separate entities. I truly believe that God sees us coming together and will guide us through these difficult times. Thank you to all of you who are working through God to achieve a stronger community.

Thank you to our educators, from teacher to superintendent to school board, to parents who understand the responsibility of raising their children properly, and to our pastors and social workers, who carry such a heavy load of responsibility. You do not receive the credit you deserve. We as a society must recognize the importance of these unsung leaders and the impact they have on our children, tomorrow's leaders.

Thank you to community leaders, both volunteer and elected. Thank you to Caterpillar, without whose leadership and commitment would have us as just another mediocre Midwest city. Thank you to OSF St. Francis Medical Center, Methodist Medical Center, Proctor Hospital, the University of Illinois College of Medicine, and the hundreds of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals for establishing Peoria as a world-class city for medical education, research, and clinical care. I believe that in the not-too-distant future, Peoria will be seen in the same light as the Mayo Clinic and M.D. Anderson when it comes to outstanding care and cutting- edge research and treatment. Thank you for Dr. Jasti Rao and others, who have placed Peoria on the global map for research they are doing right here in town.

Thank you to the men and women serving in all branches of our military, and to their families, who sacrifice so much. Sometimes we find ourselves insulated from the fact that we are at war. Without the sacrifice and commitment of our armed forces, we could not enjoy the freedom that we too often take for granted. As we prepare for the holidays, please take time to reflect on those serving our country in all parts of the world and say a prayer of thanksgiving for their protection. May they come back safe when their missions are accomplished.

Finally, I would like to thank all of our outstanding city employees who work so hard every day to make Peoria a great city. This includes those in the clerk's office, treasurer's office, public works, planning, code enforcement, dispatchers, trades, finance and accounting, legal, economic development, and everyone in between. To our firefighters and police officers, thank you for your extraordinary bravery and dedication. To our Council members who give back so much to our city, thank you.

Peoria is our home. We have so much to be proud of and to be thankful for. Faced with significant issues like challenged school districts, crime problems, and a tight budget, we are persevering and making progress, as our city grows and becomes stronger. I hope that you feel the same pride and will commit to making us stronger in the future, and I hope your Thanksgiving is peaceful and safe. IBI