Sign of appreciation

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday, a portion of U.S. Hwy. 84 was officially named for the man who worked more than two decades to get it four-laned from Andalusia to Enterprise.

The state legislature approved a resolution naming the portion of the highway from the Andalusia city limits to the Opp city limits as the “Seth Hammett Highway.” The Andalusia City Council and the Opp City Council both extended the distance, naming portions of the highway within each municipality for the man who has represented the county in the Alabama House of Representatives for 32 years.

Sen. Jimmy Holley (R-Elba) introduced the resolution. Wednesday, he said it is often stated that a man should “lead, follow or get out of the way.”

“Seth has been a leader in South Alabama and indeed in Alabama,” Holley said. “Follow? Occasionally. Get out of the way? I’ve never seen him do that.”

The senator said Hammett is known across the state for his “integrity, honesty, organizational skills and leadership.”

Holley said the first time he saw Hammett work on the four-lane project was in the conference room at the South Alabama Regional Airport.

“It was a meeting with Gov.-elect Siegelman in 1998,” Holley recalled.

The senator said when the meeting was over, “we had a consensus on what we were going to do.”

Gov. Siegelman started the four-laning project and Gov. Riley carried it forward, Holley said.

“Seth never lost sight of the fact that we would finish this road,” he said. “He talked a lot about bringing the community (Andalusia and Opp) together, and industrial development.”

In his response, Hammett said that there are many important roads in Alabama, but he quipped that Hwy. 84 might be “the most important one in the state, maybe in the nation.”

Hammett said of the project, “We worked on it a long time. It’s a culmination of more than 20 years of effort, with several starts and stops along the way.”

Hammett said Siegelman’s commitment was to complete the Andalusia to Opp portion of the highway first, and then continue the project to Enterprise.

“It’s the largest highway project not related to interstate construction in recent years in Alabama,” Hammett said, adding that the project is on track for completion.

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson and Opp Mayor H.D. Edgar also participated in the ceremony, which was attended by Hammett’s family.