Palestine Magazine January 2019 - Page 56

Michael Hornes Improving quality-of-life for city residents An acknowledged workaholic, Palestine City Manager Michael Hornes puts the quality-of-life of city residents at the top of his to-do list. “I love what I do,” Hornes, 39, told the Herald-Press. “It’s about getting it done, and doing what’s right and best for the community.” Since taking office in October of 2017, Hornes has tasked himself and city employees with urban renewal projects, city beautification initiatives, economic development of the Loop and downtown districts, and work- ing on multiple infrastructure issues – all while balancing a budget with a deficit of more than $1 million. Hornes has also opened city government to the public and media, fol- lowing the closed administration of former city manager Mike Alexander. Under Hornes’ leadership, the city razed its worst eyesore, the Old Memorial Hospital. Discussions continue as to what the city will build on the hospital property, but Hornes said he will take the public’s sugges- tions seriously. “They pay me a lot to do this job,” he said. “It’s something I take very seriously.” Having moved with his family to Palestine last year, Hornes experiences the issues faced by other city residents. “Quality-of-life is very important to a city,” Hornes said. “I’m big on it.” Mike Kelly Stepping up for Anderson County’s youth When city officials and leaders of the Anderson County Youth Football League deadlocked over the Palestine Athletic Complex, threatening to end the football season, Mike Kelly, 65, decided enough was enough. On his own, he talked to the editor of the local newspaper and to lead- ers on both sides of the dispute. Quiet and understated, Kelly brought the football league and city officials together to reconcile the rift—and made headlines in the process. As chairman of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Kelly helped make last year’s youth football season possible, while expanding the use of the complex. A former maintenance director for Westwood and Cayuga Independent School Districts, Kelly looks for projects that improve the lives of youth. Kelly serves on Westwood’s school board. He volunteers with the Master Gardener program, which introduces students at Westwood Primary and Elementary to gardening. Kelly does not shy away from additional leadership responsibilities: This year, he serves as president of the Anderson County Master Gardener Association. His first term on Westwood’s school board will end this year, but he plans to run again because he wants to stay involved. “Exciting things are going to happen,” he said, smiling.