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City leaders present ‘State of the City’

Mayor, city manager discuss rapid progress in Midlothian despite pandemic

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror

In spite of the surging COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Midlothian continues to grow, both Mayor Richard Reno and City Manager Chris Dick told the audience at the State of the City luncheon on Nov. 10 at the Midlothian Conference Center.

Leading off was Jary Ganske, administrator of Methodist Midlothian Medical Center, who talked about the opening of the hospital this month. Midlothian’s first acute-care facility opened on Nov. 9 with 46 beds, with capacity for 80 once fully open. More than 200 employees are already on site, with another 100 expected at full capacity.

The new hospital was built at a cost of $175 million and occupies a campus of 67 acres adjacent to U.S. Highway 287.

“Our new hospital is all about serving the health and well-being of our neighbors,” Ganske said. “We’re honored by the trust this vibrant community has placed in us.”

Dick introduced Mayor Reno, whose long professional career has been spent in the airline industry. Reno talked about the impact of COVID-19, growth and development finances and taxes, and community quality of life in Midlothian. Reno also talked about public health and safety, infrastructure and facilities, and communication and citizen involvement.

As of Nov. 3, unemployment claims related to COVID-19 have been limited to 143 in Midlothian and 847 in Ellis County, Dick said. Businesses have reopened, sales tax revenues and building activity remain strong and city departments are open for service, Dick added.

Midlothian has exploded from a population of 7.480 in 2000 to an estimated 34,339 in 2020, a percentage change of 359.08 percent. That growth rate leads all Ellis County cities. This growth has proceeded further to 35,695 at the end of the third quarter of this year, Dick said.

Building permits are projected to hit 538 new single-family homes at the end of this year, the second-highest on record. Residential and commercial developments underway in the city number in the dozens, including several large projects. Industry is also calling Midlothian home with projects in the works in both the Midlothian Business Park and Railport Business Park, including the recent announcement of the new Sunrider facility.

Retail development at the intersection of U.S. 287 and FM 663 was also noted with new businesses opening up at this location.

The new Downtown Master Plan also came into being in June, with numerous improvements planned for the city’s traditional business district.

The Lawson Buildings were recently purchased by the city with the master plan in mind, and the city also has identified the former Fire Station No. 1 and Founders Row as areas of emphasis. Other planned improvements include walkability, parking and street beautification.

Phase II of Midlothian Community Park is underway with numerous facilities in the works.  Upcoming events include the city tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 1; the Southern Star Christmas Festivities and Parade on Dec. 5; Merry Movie Night featuring “The Grinch” on Dec. 11; and issuance of the Beautiful Midlothian 2021 wall calendar featuring winning entries from the city’s recent photo contest. The city plans a full slate of events in 2021, Dick said.

Public safety initiatives were also touted, including expansion of the school resource officer partnership with Midlothian ISD and the opening of the state-of-the-art Fire Station No. 1. Numerous road projects are proceeding, including the Texas Department of Transportation’s Walnut Grove Road interchange project on U.S. 287 and an expansion of FM 663.

Dick said a bond referendum will likely be brought before the City Council in January 2021.