Duluth to work on major roads, new City Hall in 2006

DULUTH - Shirley Lasseter's greatest accomplishment of 2005 was also the site where she wanted to start out in 2006.

Duluth's mayor gave her annual State of the City speech in between tours of the new public safety building, where police officers will begin setting up shop by the end of the week.

The $11 million edifice, she said, was the biggest achievement of the last year.

In 2006, she wants to move forward with plans to expand and realign major roads and begin work on a new City Hall.

"Duluth's got a very bright future," she said.

Lasseter presented drawings of the new city hall to the crowd of 150 people at the lunch, hosted by the Duluth Civitan Club.

The building will sit across the Town Green from its current location, on a hill next to the town's historic cemetery.

Construction could begin this summer and is scheduled to be complete by August 2007.

Later this year, the city will also work on the second phase of its downtown improvement plans, including adding three streets, widening two and adding sidewalks and landscaping.

The city already has more than a dozen events scheduled for the Town Green, including arts festivals, outdoor movies and concerts.

But the most special part of the city, Lasseter said, is its people.

During the speech, she got a chuckle from the audience when she brought up the most notorious story set in Duluth in 2005 - that of Jennifer Wilbanks, the "runaway bride."

But Lasseter kept a positive spin on the situation, which made national headlines.

"Before 6 o'clock (the morning after Wilbanks disappeared), people were on computers, at printers and on the streets because one person in Duluth was lost," she said. "It shows the community support."