State of the City address highlights 'positive change'

READING, Pa. - The state of the city is getting to where it should be, according to Reading Mayor Wally Scott.

Over the last year, Scott said the city has taken quite a few steps to turn Reading into a city people can be proud to live in and proud to visit. It's a message you can't miss heading into center city on the Penn Street Bridge: "Mayor Wally Scott welcomes you to the city of positive change."

The mayor said as much to a packed crowd during his annual State of the City address, which was streamed live on

"What we've always tried to do, is that when we correct something, we correct it forever," Scott said to the audience.

During the hour-long speech, Scott recognized the fire department's new accelerant-detection dog, Gracie, and the addition of two motorcycles for police officers, which are expected this spring. More extensively, he talked trash.

"So, we've gone in and cleaned up alleys with trash as high as eight feet. There were some on certain areas of town where it was almost 15-foot. You had to work your way in with a back hoe," he said.

In the last year, Scott said lower costs have made it possible to enroll 5,000 more people in the city's trash program, in turn, cutting down on illegal dumping while minimizing health and safety hazards.

"There are actually professional studies done. If you have a clean, neat, attractive neighborhood, crime does go down," said Ralph Johnson, the city's public works director.

Another highlight: Progress on the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant. It'll be two more years before the new one is fully operational. The plant serves 180,000 people in the city and surrounding suburbs.

"If we have the ability to handle wastewater coming out of commercial and industrial places, then we can get more businesses in here and have jobs for people," Johnson said.

The mayor said there are a few more things in the works. He said his Monday meetings to talk to the public will continue.

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