A year ago, county commission chairman James Graves couldn’t contain his pessimism about the county’s challenges at an event sponsored by the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, an organization understandably renowned for maintaining a positive tone.

At this year’s iteration of the same event — the State of the City and County address, held Friday at the All Steak restaurant — Graves couldn’t contain his optimism.

Last January, Graves’ address was filled with gloomy phrases: Bite the bullet. Dire circumstances. Volatile issue. Wreaking havoc.

This year, the phrasing was positively upbeat: Working great together. Absolutely fantastic. Pride and joy. Tickled pink. Fat boy.

Graves took the crowd of more than 100 area business leaders and officials through a tour of the county’s accomplishments over the past year, as well as upcoming projects that he and Cullman Mayor Max Townson agreed will shape Cullman County’s future for the better.

“I think there are going to be great things for the county and the city,” Graves said. “I can’t overemphasize how much I’ve enjoyed serving with both of our two new associate commissioners.” Graves introduced the pair — Darrell Hicks and Stanley Yarbrough — to a room full of applause.

* Read the complete story in the Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011, edition of The Cullman Times.

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