Building in Opp? There’s a woman in charge

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wanda Summers is not a typical building inspector – especially for a small south Alabama town.

After all, she’s a woman – but she’s a woman with 35 years of experience in the construction and code enforcement field who knows her stuff.

The Dallas native moved to Opp in April to be closer to her grandson and her two daughters.

“I guess the biggest project I ever worked on was building a nuclear power plant in Glenrose, Texas,” Summers said. “But I’ve done everything – I’m an electrician by trade, but I’ve done HVAC, foundation work, you name it.

“The thing I love about building is that you can see what you’ve done immediately,” she said. “The physical aspect of building always fascinated me. My dad wanted a son, but he got me. He’s 83 now, and I was always right there by his side.”

Summers worked as a code enforcement officer for the City of Dallas before her retirement in 2011 to take care of her mother, who a few short months later passed away from cancer. That was when she decided to move to Opp to be closer to her family.

Since being hired in April, Summers said she and the city council have worked to clean up the city streets by enforcing city ordinances and building codes.

“The city adopted the International Building Code, which means that there are certain ways to do certain things,” she said. It’s Summers’ job to issue permits and make sure construction work meets code.

“Our number one priority is to get house numbers on houses and to work on the abatement process,” she said.

The city has worked for months to clean up overgrown, and at times, vacant properties.

“A clean town goes a long way in attracting industry, which is exactly what this council is working to do,” she said. “It’s hard to get a company to come here if they drive through and see junk cars, old houses and weeds. We want the look of the community to reflect how proud citizens are of their hometown.”

Summers said she enjoys the job for a number of reasons.

“I get to meet a lot of really nice people,” she said. “And I get a chance to clean up a beautiful community.”

Summers said she is currently working with church, and hopefully in the future, civic groups to partner for clean up projects for elderly and needy homeowners.

“We want to work to make Opp a nice, safe and clean place to leave,” she said.