By Patrick McCreless
Cullman County’s smaller towns had their chance to bask in the spotlight Friday during the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 State of the Community Address.
Hosted by the chamber at All Steak Restaurant and sponsored by Woodland Medical Center, the address gave the 10 mayors from Cullman’s smaller towns the opportunity to tell local business leaders and officials how their towns have grown and developed in the past year.
The event was the second part of a two-part series hosted by the chamber. The first part, held on Jan. 25, featured updates from County Commission Chair Wiley Kitchens and City of Cullman Mayor Donald Green.
Of the 10 mayors invited to the event, Mayors Dr. Paul Bailey of Baileyton, Earlene Johnson of Colony, Perry Ray of Dodge City and Katie Whitley of Hanceville did not attend.
Mayor Randall Shedd said he and his council have been busy over the past year with a slower but strategic 20-year development plan for the town of Fairview.
“We’re working to do things that benefit our community,” Shedd said. “We’re pleased with recent development.”
Among the recent developments listed were the opening of a town library, the installation of a tornado warning siren, the construction of new sidewalks as well as a new satellite office for the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office.
In addition, Shedd said the town council purchased 85 acres for the community park and has already built several walking trails in the area. He said plans are in the works to build more walking trails and other recreational facilities at the park.
Shedd said the town would pay for the new development through annexing new residents into the town and by grant assistance.
“But you can’t do anything without land and a plan,” Shedd said. “We’ve got land and the plan.”
Mayor Harden Davis said construction was recently completed on a small park in Garden City.
“We had a lighting ceremony at Christmas time,” Davis said.
Davis said the town council is working hard to beautify the community by tearing down some old buildings and by planting trees. He said the town received a grant to purchase several Red Maples, which will soon be planted in the area.
The town is also working on the development of a storm shelter.
“We’re getting along on that pretty good,” Davis said. “Everything’s about to be turned in for the grant, so we’ll probably get that shelter.”
Mayor Gordon Dunagan said he and his council were proud about the recent surge of sidewalk construction in the town of Good Hope. He said almost two miles of sidewalks were constructed this year.
“We’re tying all our schools together,” Dunagan said. “The children can walk from their communities to the schools.”
Dunagan added that the town also finished several road widening projects. He said many of the towns roads were only between 14 and 15 feet wide.
“We had problems with cars meeting on these roads,” Dunagan said. “We went in this year and widened and paved these roads. It makes it safer for citizens who drive at night.”
Mayor Paul Barnett said one of his main goals over the past year has been to upgrade the sewer system in Holly Pond. He said the cost estimate for the project would be around $1 million.
“We’ve already requested appropriations from (Sen. Jeff) Sessions’ office,” Barnett said.
As far as development in Holly Pond, Barnett said bids were recently opened for the construction of new concession stands at the town’s baseball park. He said the plan is to have the concession stands ready by the spring.
Along with the park, Barnett said plans are on the table to widen some of the town’s roads.
Mayor Melba Patton raved about South Vinemont’s volunteer fire department. She said the department recently received a class 3 rating approval rating.
“That’s unheard of for a small town,” Patton said.
Over the past few years, Patton said town officials have worked to develop a new wastewater treatment facility for South Vinemont.
“We’ve obtained $1.5 million in grants for the first phase,” she said. “We’ve purchased land for the location.”
In addition, Patton said walking trails have been built in the area and all of the town’s streets have been resurfaced.
“We are growing and we intend for the town to continue to grow,” Patton said.
Mayor Kenneth Kilgo said the last three years have seen the biggest amount of growth in the history of the town of West Point. Among the towns’ many projects is building sidewalks for West Point Middle School.
“We’ve finally broken ground,” Kilgo said of the $237,000 sidewalk project. “It’s really going to be an enhancement.”
Kilgo said the town plans to spend around $11,000 to widen County Road 1197 in front of the school.
“That will enhance the safety to the school and help ease the terrible traffic,” Kilgo said.
By Patrick McCreless