Mayors have plans to see cities grow in 2005

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 3, 2005

Demopolis – by Rick Couch

Since taking office Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson has had one major priority in mind. That priority is getting the city departments into buildings that can properly accommodate them. Williamson has been hoping for some time to construct a suitable dwelling for departments who are in less than acceptable housing. In 2005, Williamson said the plans are in place to do so.

Williamson said all along this has been her number one task.

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“My number one plan is to get the Demopolis municipal complex funded,” Williamson said. “Then we can move the firemen, police and court out of their dilapidated buildings. That is my number one project. ”

Williamson’s next task for the coming year is to make sure every member of the City Hall staff knows their role and the proper way to play that role. Williamson said she plans to implement a plan to educate everyone on how they can better serve the city.

“My number two project is to get the welcome center done and education of the city hall staff,” Williamson said. “We want to all get up to the level we need to be at.”

Another project the city hopes to complete soon is the construction of a welcome center. The center will be placed next to City Hall and will also mean they are getting closer to completing her first priority.

“Our plans include completing the welcome center next door,” Williamson said. “That will be a big step for us.”

When the clock strikes midnight Friday it will also signify a new beginning for the city and many of its workers. Williamson said she hopes all projects can stay on target to make 2005 a very prosperous year for the City of Demopolis and its citizens.

Livingston – by Theresa Swope

Livingston Mayor Tom Tartt said 2004 saw a lot of improvements and good news coming the towns way, and heralds 2005 as a year of projects that will bring still more growth and aesthetic improvements to the Sumter County town.

“We had a very good year in the city,” Tartt said of 2004. “We had some flooding back in the summer and of course the damage from (Ivan), but nothing too major in the way of natural disasters. We’re thankful for that.”

Tartt said several projects were begun in 2004 that will carry over into 2005, and said other projects were approved this year that will begin in the coming year.

“A new business came to town and we were able to start on the remodeling project at Jaycee Park,” he said. “We were able to begin on repaving the parking lots and building new ball fields, we’re very excited about that. We look for that to be completed in 2005.”

Another carryover is the ladder truck that has been ordered and will more than likely be in it’s new home after the first of the year.

“We received funding for almost $500,000 for a new ladder truck, funded mostly by FEMA,” Tartt said. “We let the bid on that at the end of September, so hopefully we’ll have that in 2005.”

Tartt said the fire truck is a big deal because it is desperately needed in Livingston.

“We have several two-, three- and four-story buildings in town with the university (of West Alabama),” he said. “It will be good to have that piece of equipment should we ever need it.”

Probably the biggest and most important project, however, will be the nearly $3 million joint project between the Sumter County Commission and the Livingston City Council.

“The Sumter County Commission started a downtown revitalization of some of the county buildings, and they brought the city in on the project,” Tartt said. He said the project, which will include the renovation of many Livingston buildings, will cost about $3 million over the next two years.

“This will include the renovation of several buildings downtown including the McMillan and Company Bank,” he said. “We may possibly go in with the University and make a museum out of that building.”

But the big part of that project will be the new courthouse annex.

“We’re planning to tear down the old jail and the warehouse next to it and put up a $1.2 million courthouse annex,” Tartt said.

The Livingston Mayor said he’s looking forward to the construction because it signals growth for the town.

“We’re real thankful that the county brought us in on this project,” he said. “It’s been a real pleasure working with the commissioners. This just shows you what can be done when the county and the city work together.

Construction is not the only thing Tartt is looking for in the new year, as he said he always keeps an eye on any opportunities for industrial development.

“We’re trying to attract a new grocery store chain to the city,” he said. “I think we need that in our commercial base to continue to grow, and to try to attract more businesses back into Livingston.

“We will also renew our efforts in industrial recruitment,” he said, noting that he is closely monitoring the Alabama Development Office and its attempts to establish a join industrial site on the Alabama-Mississippi border.

“Supposedly they’re looking to put an industrial site somewhere between Cuba and Meridian, and we’ll be keeping an eye on that situation so that we can try to develop any second-tier industries that might spin off from that,” he said.

With everything Tartt and his fellow council members are looking to do in 2005, he said they will not forget the people who are already here.

“We will continue to provide the level of quality services to our residents as we did last year,” he said.

Marion – by Rick Couch

The year 2005 hold a lot of promise for the City of Marion. Mayor Anthony J. Long and the rest of the city administration hope to see growth and development for their historic Perry County town. At the same time they will give all of the existing parts of the town its needed attention.

One of the first acts of the city will be to get more water flowing through the city pipes. In 2004 the city was able to refurbish two deep-water wells used to provide the city with water. Long said they hope to see a third in 2005.

“To start off we would like to we would like to get another well refurbished,” Long said. “During the past year we were able to get two of them done and hope to see the third taken care of too.”

Long said the city also plans to give the city a facelift in some areas. As a whole they would like to see the appearance of the city improve.

“We hope to continue to work on our infrastructure,” Long said. “That is going to be our main objective. To work on our infrastructure.”

To do so the city will look at a number of issues. Most involve making sure everything is in working condition and properly able to serve its purpose.

“Street paving and some other things will fall under that,” Long said. “We also want to make sure all our buildings are up to code”

If all of the city’s other plans fall into place it would make Marion more attractive to outside businesses and industry. This would mean more jobs for the people of Marion and Perry County. Long said as the improvements take place they hope to stay abreast of any possibilities of new business in the area.

“We are hoping to with the appearance keep our eyes on the appearance and by doing so we hope to increase our retail,” Long said. “Hopefully, we can attract some industry to Marion.”

The city is off to a good start as they will soon be awarded for a grant to help them make some improvements around town. The city has already been approved for the grant and all that is left is its awarding.

“We have been approved for a grant that will be issued and given out on Jan. 4 to help us improve some things around town,” Long said. “It’s already been approved we just have to go to Montgomery and get it.”

Long felt 2005 should be an exciting time in the history of the city. He felt the possibilities were there for big things to happen.

Eutaw – by Theresa Swope

Situated right off Interstate Highway 59, Eutaw is in a prime location for growth, but Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele said it hasn’t happened yet. So, development along the Interstate is the city’s top priority in 2005, Steele said.

“We are looking to develop that area at exit 40,” he said. “That’s the main corridor into Eutaw. We have a BP station there now, but we want to see commercial development in that area.”

Steele said the previous four years of his administration – the first four for him as mayor – have been preparations for the next four years, which he hopes will see development and growth for his city.

“When I came in four years ago, I was faced with many problems and many concerns. There was a lot of work to be done,” he said. “One of the main concerns was annexation. That was accomplished, and it has set the stage for growth and opportunity.”

Steele said bringing in new businesses is his main concern for the coming year.

“Commercial development is at the top of our list, as is industrial development and residential development,” he said. “These we have not had in the past.”

He said many projects are already taking place to improve the image of the downtown area, particularly Courthouse Square.

“Sen. Shelby has been very supportive of the renovation of the old Courthouse Square, which has already begun,” Steele said. “The old probate office has already been renovated, and that building will house the Industrial Board and the Chamber of Commerce.”

The next step is to renovate the old juror room and old library, Steele said.

“We plan to meet in early January to get those two projects started,” he said. “We already have the funding.”

The old juror room will become home to the registrar’s office and the library will remain the law library for Greene County, Steele said.

“The main courthouse building will be renovated and we’re talking about turning that into a museum and welcome center. The old courtroom will be a meeting room,” he said.

Steele said he looks forward to such projects, because they will not only improve the look of the town, but the town’s chances of attracting tourists and businesses.

“We’re so happy to continue to get support to work on these projects,” he said. “We look forward to working on these in 2005 and the next four years.”