“Shape up or ship out” might me the motto of Manchester’s mayor elect, Robert (Bob) Hilderbrand.
Hilderbrand is passionate about getting Manchester cleaned up. “We’ve got to bring some curb appeal back to our town,” he told the Defender, “If we want our town to be like Ripley or Augusta, we need to get to work, but one person can’t do it alone, it takes everyone working together.”
Among the infrastructure issues plaguing Manchester are the lack of street lights, pot holes, sidewalks in need of repair, and unkempt, neglected business properties in the downtown area. Additionally, there are private properties that Hildebrand describes as “dumps.”
“If you can afford to own a home or business in Manchester, you should be able to maintain them.”
“Our town is over run with garbage, and weeds, and junked cars,” he said. “Owners are either going to clean up their properties or face stiff penalties for not doing it.”
Hilderbrand said that there are multiple individuals and organizations who are willing to volunteer their time to help those who need assistance with the clean up.
“We need to bring people back to Manchester and that isn’t going to happen until we all pull together and clean up the town.”
Once the clean up is accomplished, Hildebrand looks toward the river. He plans to promote business growth along Front Street, and give passing boaters on the Ohio River a reason to stop in Manchester.
“People come up the river to spend time on the islands, but they are bypassing the town. We need to give them a reason to stop in Manchester.”
Hildebrand looks to the day when Front Street will have a marina-type atmosphere that will pique the interests of the passing river traffic.
“We’re going to be working with Holly Johnson from the Economic Development Office, she has some really great ideas for downtown Manchester,” Hilderbrand said, “But if we don’t get the population back, there won’t be any new businesses. The people won’t come here until we get the town cleaned up.”
The new mayor believes that the town has real potential, and he also believes in its people and organizations, “Our town’s utility and emergency services our the best, second to none.” he said.
“We need to attract some Mom and Pop businesses, and we need to make this town look like the kind of place where people would be proud to live.”
Hilderbrand will take office on Jan. 1, 2016.