Interesting population figures

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

We received some pretty interesting information in the office Tuesday morning. The Alabama State Data Center has released the listing of Alabama's largest cities for 2002.

Surprisingly enough, both Andalusia and Opp were on the list.

Granted, the two bustling metropolises aren't on par with Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile when it comes to population, but they made the list none-the-less.

Andalusia is situated at No. 62, while Opp is on the list at 81.

One of the things I found interesting were the cities that both Andalusia and Opp are larger than.

Andalusia is bigger than Jacksonville - where a Jacksonville State University is located; Clanton (but for how long); Wetumpka (again, for how long); and Spanish Fort (really, how long will that city be No. 86?).

Opp, believe it or not, is actually bigger than Wetumpka and Spanish Fort.

Of course, there were some other surprises as far as cities that were bigger than Andalusia.

Leeds, Pell City, Valley, Foley, and Troy.

Yep, I seem to remember a time when all of those cities were smaller than Andalusia. Don't you?

According to the statistics, Andalusia's population dropped by 52 people from 2001 to 2002.

That may not seem like much - especially when you consider you can walk into the local grocery store and see people you've never seen before - but when you consider that places like Clanton, only two spots behind Andalusia, gained 169 people in that one year and Wetumpka gained 191 people; you have to wonder how much longer it will be before Andalusia's population stabilizes and starts growing again.

The numbers for Opp - though not as bad - still reflect a loss of 41 people.

Again, that may not seem like a lot, considering Birmingham lost 1,489 residents and Mobile lost 2,077. But, it should be cause for concern.

Several federal grants are dependent upon a city's population. Without the population, city's aren't eligible for certain dollars that could greatly enhance the quality of life in an area.

Now, I don't want to see Andalusia or Opp become an enormous metropolitan area with millions of people, but I would like to see Andalusia move up on the list - at least to where it was in the '70s and early '80s. Back into the 20-somethings or 30-somethings.

But, it's a fact, people are leaving the cities for the country.

I'm guilty of it myself. But, that doesn't mean I don't want what's best for my hometown.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - perhaps it's time that some of the unincorporated areas look at becoming part of the city.

Just imagine, according to these statistics, if Andalusia were to simply add 2,000 – 3,000 more people, it would be right up there with Pell City, Fort Payne and Troy.

And here's a thought, if Covington County were one big incorporated area (and there are cities that are entire counties - think Jacksonville, Fla.; Juneau, Alaska; and Columbus, Ga.), we would be right up there sitting at No. 10 or 11. And then imagine the possibilities.