Ottawa — A longtime Ottawa businessman got a new title Wednesday
A city literally on the move got a new mayor Wednesday.
Gene Ramsey, Ottawa business owner and third-year city commissioner, was sworn in as mayor during a brief ceremony at city hall.
"I think it's a great time to be fortunate enough to be mayor," Ramsey said. "Because for one thing, later this summer or early this fall, we're going to move into a new city hall and we'll see the library move into the same building.
"That will be a big change for the city."
Last month, commissioners approved a contract with a Paola contractor to remodel the former Franklin Savings Assn. building, which will house city hall and the library. The city purchased the building for $800,000 in September 1994.
Ramsey accepted the gavel from Matt Matthews for a one-year term in the largely ceremonial position. As mayor, Ramsey will chair meetings and serve as the city's top elected representative at special occasions.
During an interview Wednesday, Ramsey identified housing, streets and downtown improvements as some of the city's top priorities.
"We'll be looking at some additional streets, which will enable us to create more housing," Ramsey said. "The city is growing -- I don't think there's any question about that -- and I think that's only going to continue."
While the city handles expansion, it also will look at its core. Ramsey said a top goal was to establish a neighborhood revitalization program that would provide tax rebates for people who remodel or build downtown.
Although much of what's happening in Ottawa is promising, Ramsey said, there are darker issues to tackle as well.
Three homicides over the past 30 months, including a widely reported gang-related slaying last year, have tainted Ottawa's image.
Ramsey said he expected the city to work with the chamber of commerce and other community groups to address the city's crime problems and improve its image.
The owner of Ramsey Printing Co., which opened in 1973, Ramsey was appointed to the commission in 1994 and was elected last spring to a four-year term.