City, schools pursue excellence; state improving
Published 12:00 am Friday, May 9, 2014
The City of Andalusia is Alabama’s best, and committed to being better.
Andalusia City Schools want to be known for excellence.
And the State of Alabama is improving.
Those are the messages those gathered for the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce’s first Covington County Day heard from Mayor Earl Johnson, Superintendent Ted Watson and Sen. Jimmy Holley.
“Andalusia is Alabama’s top town,” Johnson said. “And that’s not just the mayor stating that. We were selected by an independent survey of small towns in America. We were that top Alabama town and the 33rd best small town in which to live in America. That is an amazing phenomenon to happen to our community.
“We have embraced that, we believe it, and we won’t be happy until we are the No. 1 small town in America,” the mayor said.
Johnson said the city’s gross receipts, sales taxes and business licenses are all up.
“That’s a good measure of the health of our economy,” he said. “It means our economy is growing.”
Johnson said city leaders continue to concentrate on retail development, and to work on quality of life issues that make the city attractive to potential residents.
“Andalusia is Alabama’s top town, and it’s my intention to keep it that way,” he said.
Watson said the school system recently completing a strategic planning process that included numerous stakeholders.
“The motto that was developed was “Excellence. Success. Distincition,” he said.
Everyone felt strongly that what we should be all about in our schools in Andalusia.”
Watson said Andalusians pay relatively low taxes for schools, yet is able to enjoy many perks because of the partnerships developed in a community that wants the best for students.
With 1,756 students, the system has a $13 million impact on the local economy each year.
The system will open its new sixth grade wing at Andalusia Elementary in the fall, he said, and the new junior high wing at AHS will open in January.
Holley, asked to give the “state of the Senate,” reminded those present to remember one of the first things Gov. Robert Bentley said after taking office almost four years ago: “We are broke.”
“That’s how he interpreted the situation he found when he became governor,” Holley said. “There was no revenue to speak of in the budget, we had generally spent all of the savings account our dear friend Seth Hammett had put aside, and we had spent all of the stimulus money available to our state.”
Things are better, Holley said.
“We are no longer not living within our means,” he said. “We have consolidated several departments of state government. We have not filled vacancies, and restructured some departments of state government for efficiency.
“You will continue to see the legislature pass budgets that are balanced and shrink the size of government appropriately,” he said.
Local candidates also were given three minutes each to speak. Those participating included:
• Revenue commissioner candidates Cindy Cook, Lorene McCart, Gwen Kelley, Meredith Peters and Chuck Patterson.
• Sheriff’s candidates Dennis Meeks and Chris Byrd.
• County BOE candidates Jimmy Prestwood and Terry Holley.
Coroner candidates Eddie Rowell and Norman Hobson.
• State senate candidates Jimmy Holley and Garreth Moore.