East Walker officials look at 2020 goals

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The mayors of Dora, Sumiton, and Sipsey took a moment on Monday to reflect on the past year and talk about what they would like to accomplish in 2020.

Sumiton Mayor Petey Ellis said the city got started on a new sidewalk project for Main Street in November. Construction began at Church Street near the Sumiton ball field and will go down the north side of Main Street to Oak Drive, which is near the Sumiton Post Office.

“We expect the construction work to be completed by early spring,” Ellis said.

The city also started work on a new ballfield, which should be completed by spring. “This will give us a regulation field for 7 and 8-year-olds,” he said.

Ellis said they have grant applications for some paving projects, but they have not yet been approved. “We intend to do some paving in 2020 regardless,” he said.

The city had a good year, according to Ellis. “There’s never enough money to do all you want to do, but we’ve been able to accomplish some things. We have free garbage pickup and or paramedics 24x7,” he said. “We have a lot of luxuries that other small towns don’t have.” 

Dora Mayor Randy Stephens weighed in on the city’s progress during 2019. Stephens and the city are pleased to complete the Veteran’s Monument in front of the Civic Center. “We started working on that project in 2018, and I’m very pleased with it,” he said. “I think it will be an asset to the city for generations to come.”

Stephens also pointed out that the golf course enjoyed the best month ever in May of 2019, with golfers playing over 3,200 rounds. The city decided to install a new sign for the golf course. Workers built the new sign, installed lighting, and landscaped the area in November.

The mayor and city council have worked this year on plans to resurface streets within the city limits. 

“One of my goals in 2020 is to repair several miles of streets,” Stephens said. “We’d love to have that done by next summer.”

Stephens also wants to replace the Commerce Street bridge near Horse Creek Blvd. The bridge is now close to 100 years old and is no longer safe for the garbage truck, or the fire trucks, according to Stephens. “We’ve applied for a grant,” he said. He hopes to get a status of that grant in January.

Another goal of Stephens is to annex the property next to U.S. Interstate 22 into the city.

“I want to annex Sharon Boulevard all the way through Yerkwood to the Interstate,” he said. “I want to see some development there.”

Stephens said that he has worked to annex this property for seven years and he would love to make that happen in 2020. “We need to get that done so we can start some economic development down there,” he said.

A project for 2020 is to resolve issues with the East Walker Sewer Authority (EWSA). This means the city could potentially bring the operation of the EWSA into the city. 

When the authority was first formed, it was a partnership between Sipsey, Sumiton, and Dora. Sipsey never developed their part of the system, and Sumiton pulled out of the authority several years ago and formed their own sewer authority, according to Stephens. The EWSA has struggled since then. Stephens thinks it is time to fix that issue.

Other events in 2020 include both city and presidential elections, as well as the 2020 Census. 

The census is a big deal for the State of Alabama, as well as towns and cities in the state. According to Stephens, some of the residential areas did not get counted in the last census, and he is working to ensure that everyone gets counted during this census.

“I encourage everyone to participate in this,” he said.  “It’s vital that the City of Dora maintain a population of at least 2,000 to maintain our status as a city.” Populations below 2,000 are considered towns, and this excludes them from applying for some of the grants that municipalities depend upon.

There are some in the city and state that shy away from participating because they are undocumented immigrants or maybe have a criminal record, but they still need to be counted, according to Stephens.

Sipsey Mayor Brenda Robinson said that during 2019, the town made improvements at the community and recreation centers. The facilities are not in good condition and available to the community. “We plan to have an open house after the first of the year,” Robinson said.

One of the things Robinson wants to accomplish in 2020 is to make improvements on the Sipsey School property that the city owns. They are doing research to look for funds to help make that a reality in 2020.