Colony Mayor Donnis Leeth rubbed elbows with fellow mayors from across the globe, trading ideas on how to improve their communities, during the World Council of Mayors conference in Detroit, Michigan.
Leeth said he met mayors and other elected officials from across the world but also his home state of Alabama. He also met Richard Hatcher, the country's first elected African American to serve a large U.S. city.
Leeth is a member of the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors, with a strong membership of 47, as well as the Historical Black Towns and Settlements Alliance, the Cities United and the World Council of Mayors, which was founded by Johnny Ford, former longtime mayor of Tuskegee. The trip was made possible through a grant from Cities United to the World Council of Mayors.
Each of the organizations mentioned above are not exclusively for mayors; they include retired mayors and council members.
Trade representatives from Taiwan and Toronto, Canada looking to extend their trade base to towns and cities addressed attendees, and Dr. Doris Brown, president of the National Medical Association, spoke about health care, mental health, the opioid epidemic plaguing towns and cities as well as the lack of medical insurance for many. A workshop was also held on how to obtain funding for projects.
Tuskegee Airman Maj. Bob Tillman talked about the opportunities for youth to train as pilots starting at age 8, explaining that upon graduation from high school, future pilots could be eligible for $80,000 scholarships to attend college.
Znergy held a workshop informing attendees on how municipalities can save and benefit from using LED lights. Leeth won a drawing from Znergy for a no-cost energy audit, and he plans to learn how Colony can save on its energy bill.
The conference ended with the attendees sitting in on a Detroit City Council meeting and a tour of the Detroit City Clerk’s office. Attendees from Kenya, Nigeria, Taiwan, Toronto and Detroit invited the council to hold their 2018 conference in their towns and countries.
One of Leeth’s first acts since returning was scheduling a focus group of local citizens and partners to conduct an asset and needs assessment to be held November 16 to plan for Colony's future. Leeth said the conference provided an opportunity him to network, learn and gather information and return to Colony full of zeal and enthusiasm to bring innovative ideas to his town as well as all of Cullman County.