County looks at growth issue

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 28, 2003

The continuous industrial growth of Covington County was a primary subject during Wednesday's regular meeting of the Covington County Commission as Ed Short and Tucson Roberts of the Covington County Economic Development Commission (CCEDC) both addressed the commission about several ongoing projects, including Service Zone.

Short said he appreciated all of the commission's previous efforts in helping to bring Service Zone to the county and helping it to grow, with more than 200 now employed at the company, but noted that he would like to see the county finalize a previous agreement to provide a structure pad for the building and to provide an additional pad as well.

"Let's go ahead and get (this agreement) completed if we can, although I know you have your own fires to fight and I appreciate that," said Short.

Short also said he appreciated the efforts the commission has made regarding various road projects and said he hoped the county municipalities could continue to work together instead of certain individuals possibly trying to do projects alone, and therefore risk splitting the county.

"The county is in pretty good shape now," said Short. "I would hate to see some sort of confrontation because of individuals putting their own desires ahead of the county's interests."

During his remarks,

Roberts noted that continued cooperation between all of the municipalities in the county was imperative in order to lure more industries such as Service Zone and Helipro.

Roberts noted that certain industries, such as Service Zone, Helipro, Shaw Industries and American Apparel are continuing to grow and the county continues to also actively explore bringing other new industries to the area.

He said the CCEDC is hoping to bring an aviation company to Florala while bringing another new industry to Opp as well for its Industrial Park.

Roberts reported that another industry is possibly seeking to locate at the Andalusia-Opp Airport.

An issue of major priority, Roberts said, is trying to work out details to bring a major retirement community to the Andalusia area.

When Commissioner Royce Short asked Roberts about rumors that Wal-Mart may be looking to expand and possibly bring a new Wal-Mart Supercenter to Covington County, Roberts said that possibility is a genuine one.

"There is fire behind that smoke (regarding the Wal-Mart rumors)," said Roberts. "I recently took a trip to discuss (the possibility) with (Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson). We are a good market for them and I think they realize that."

In other business discussed at Wednesday's meeting, the Covington County Commission:

Approved out of state travel expense for Commission Chairman Greg White so that he may make a trip with the CCEDC to discuss industrial growth with Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Approved allocating $7,500 to the City of Andalusia to help with expenses for a Babe Ruth baseball tournament to be held in the city in late July.

Approved renewal in the county senior aide program. There are approximately 11 senior aides currently in the program in Covington County.

Approved a bid from Skyline Steel for steel piling.

Approved the FY2004 budget for and held a public hearing regarding the Covington Area Transit System (CATS) program. Ruth Edson, who is the coordinator for CATS, addressed the commission.

Heard a report on various road paving projects from Engineer Darren Capps. During Capps' report, the commission also approved purchase of several state surplus property items, including two tractors and a sign truck.

Approved the minutes from the May 12 meeting.