Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen delivered a State of the City address Thursday that served both as a celebration of the city's 60th birthday and as a tribute to his father, who died in December.
"Sixty years ago - on April 16, 1953, to be exact - Henderson was officially incorporated as a city," Hafen told a crowd of about 800 at Green Valley Ranch Resort. "And that is what we want to celebrate today."
Hafen noted that President John F. Kennedy once visited Henderson and called it "a city of destiny."
"Since our inception in 1953, we've worked hard to live up to that vision seen by President Kennedy, and this year we celebrate 60 years of milestones and successes," Hafen said.
The mayor mentioned a personal milestone from 1953: the establishment of Hafen's OK Tire Store.
"If you drive down Lake Mead (Parkway), you'll see the tire shop my father built 60 years ago," he said. "It's still in the same location, and it's still in business."
Hafen said he is proud of his father, Herschel, and the example he set for the family.
"He loved Henderson all his life and established a legacy here that has spanned four generations," the mayor said. "He was at my first State of the City address, which was no small feat, being 90 years old. This is my first State of the City without him."
Hafen, 58, was elected mayor in 2009 and is up for re-election this year. He began serving on the Henderson City Council in 1987.
"Certainly trends have come and gone, and we've had our ups and downs, but the essence of what's made Henderson great has never changed," Hafen said during his speech. "This was evident to me recently as I read the minutes of the first formal meeting of the Henderson City Council in 1953."
During a discussion about police protection at that meeting, council members talked about the cost of renting police cars. They also talked about moving the police department to the fire department.
The minutes reflect that no action was taken on the subject.
"I see both our fire chief and our police chief in the audience today, and I want to assure them we still have no plans to take action on combining the police and fire departments, so don't get too worried," Hafen said, drawing laughter. "But I do want to assure all of you that safety is still paramount to us."
Hafen said he took over as mayor as the city began facing a fiscal crisis.
"The recession has been a double-edged sword because along with the dramatic drop in revenues the city has seen, we've also continued to see a steady increase in our population," the mayor said.
Henderson is now Nevada's second-largest city with nearly 270,000 residents.
"We've worked diligently, and we've cut more than $120 million from our budgets," Hafen said.
He also said the city has been working to attract "new and exciting businesses."
"I mentioned at the beginning of my speech that in 1953 Chevy introduced the first Corvette," the mayor said. "Well, as a little 60th birthday present, I'm pleased to tell you that Henderson has now become the new home of Brock Racing Enterprises. For those of you who know about Corvettes, you know that Peter Brock was the man who designed perhaps the most iconic Corvette, the Stingray."
Absent from Hafen's speech was any mention of Henderson's troubled sports arena project. The city sued the developer and others involved in the project earlier this week.
As he wrapped up his speech, the mayor recognized former Henderson Councilman Lou LaPorta, who hosted the city's first council meeting 60 years ago at his Church Street home. LaPorta is now president of the Henderson Historical Society.
"He is dedicated to preserving the wonderful history of our city, and I am proud to have him here today," Hafen said.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at email@example.com or 702-384-8710.