Mayor/Kozak Name: Roger L. Kozak
Education: Earned a bachelor's degree from The University of South Dakota at Springfield and then earned master's and doctorate degrees from The University of South Dakota.
Occupation: Higher education administration. Currently serving as vice president for The University of South Dakota. Plans are in progress to retire from The University of South Dakota at the end of June of this year. Retirement follows a career of over 30 years of service in public higher education in South Dakota.
How long have you lived in Vermillion?
I have actually resided in Vermillion on two different occasions. My first residency started in 1969 and lasted for two years. After a few years of employment elsewhere in South Dakota, residency began again in 1979. Since returning in 1979, my wife Pat and I have spent all of the past 29 years in Vermillion. My first residency in 1969 was the year I started graduate work and was employed as a graduate assistant in the School of Education. After completing two graduate degrees I was appointed to the faculty at The University of South Dakota at Springfield. After serving on the faculty for four years, I relocated to Pierre to begin an appointment as research officer for the South Dakota Board of Regents. It was in 1979 that we returned to Vermillion and it has been our home ever since.
Why are you interested in serving as Vermillion's mayor?
I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve on the city council for nearly eight years. Prior to being elected mayor, I had the opportunity to serve as a council member from the Southeast Ward for seven years. During those seven years, many exciting and rewarding projects were planned, initiated, and implemented in the city of Vermillion. Many of the projects, for example, the city electrical distribution system, are of a long-term nature and are still in the process of being implemented. I believe the accomplishments of the past decade are only the beginning of greater things for the city of Vermillion.
During the time I have served as an elected official in Vermillion, I have had the opportunity to work with many citizens and many leaders of the community. I have been able to witness the accomplishments of several work groups as they planned and implemented The Bluffs golf course and residential development; the acquisition and improvement of the Erickson Business Park, Brooks Industrial Park and other industrial park land; the planning and
development of the softball
complex; the initiation of numerous improvements to our city streets, water distribution
system, and electrical distribution system; and the list goes on and on.
The talent and skill that individuals bring to bear on concerns and challenges facing our city are phenomenal. The leadership of the Chamber of Commerce and Vermillion Development Company are just two examples of professional groups that have taken on new initiatives to encourage investment in our community and to encourage making improvements to the existing manufacturing, distribution, wholesaling and retailing in Vermillion. Looking beyond the pure economic initiatives that are underway, we do not have to look far to see the positive results of the efforts of volunteer groups like the Vermillion Area Arts Council, Vermillion Beautiful, Vermillion Can Do � just a few examples of people working together to make our life experiences on a day-to-day basis very pleasant.
One only has to view the thousands of flowers that have been planted each spring or count the number of trees that have been added to the landscape to see the difference the volunteer groups have made.
I look forward to having the opportunity to continue to work with the business leaders of our community, the many talented and gifted citizen volunteers, and other elected city, county, and state officials to make Vermillion an even greater place to be in the future.
Please list what you believe should be short term and long term goals of Vermillion city government.
Specifically, I believe we should give attention to the results of the most recent Vermillion Comprehensive Plan and the Implementation Recommendations prepared under the direction of Short Elliott Hendrickson, Inc. consulting firm. They took the thoughts and ideas of a group of over 40 residents, city staff, and public officials to prioritize projects that should be carried out over the next five years. The participants in the planning process prioritized 14 projects that included:
1. A study of the need to replace City Hall,
2. A need to encourage growth within existing undeveloped areas of the city limits,
3. Encourage the city to work with USD to designate an official USD entrance to the campus,
4. Consider improving Chestnut Street from Dakota to University,
5. Encourage the enhancement of gateways to the city,
6. Implement and enforce a landscaping ordinance,
7. Encourage the cooperation of business owners and the city to keep downtown Vermillion clean and well maintained,
8. Downzone historical neighborhoods to single-family only zones to help maintain the historical character of the property,
9. Consider expanding and improving Cotton Park,
10. Improve library facilities and services,
11. Study the need to widen Dakota Street,
12. Consider improving the city's bike trail system,
13. Initiate the water treatment plant upgrades, and
14. Consider annexing growth areas as recommended by the land-use plan.
Obviously the 14 points identified by the planning task force will keep any elected group very busy for a very long time. Work has already started on several of the recommendations and the city will be realizing improvements and enhancements in the very near future. Evidence is already available to show progress in several areas such as the work to improve gateway entrances to the city, improvements for Cotton Park, implementation of water treatment plant upgrades, initiation of a preliminary study to determine the need to replace City Hall, etc.
Looking farther out into the future it will be imperative for our community to consider several long-range goals such as:
1. Preparation of plans to upgrade current arterial and collector streets to handle our current population and projected new growth areas,
2. Strive to implement programs that will permit revitalization of neighborhoods that have experienced decline and commercial business structures that have deteriorated,
3. We should be forward thinking and attempt to acquire land for public park use as new residential areas are added to the city limits,
4. We should plan for additional needed city facilities such as a satellite fire and ambulance facility in the southeast area of the city to permit us to keep our level of service within acceptable insurance risk requirements, and
5. Plan for the continued upgrade of our water treatment facilities, wastewater system plant, and our electrical distribution system to ensure a continued delivery of services to all citizens of Vermillion.
It quickly becomes apparent that there are a number of items that I believe we should focus our attention on during the first decade of this new millennium. Many of the items will take time to plan, develop, and implement so I believe it is imperative that we look beyond just one, two, or three years and plan for the next 25 to 50 years. We are fortunate that those who preceded us had a good sense of vision for the future and put a solid infrastructure in place. I believe it is now our duty and obligation to work as best we can to improve and enhance that basic infrastructure so that it is in place for the next several generations as well.