THE YEAR AHEAD: Commission chairman supports county growthBy Emily Reed Published 4:26pm Tuesday, January 14, 2014
With a successful 2013 for the county, Chilton County Commission Chairman Allen Caton hopes to continue the trend in 2014.
“I am really excited about 2014,” Caton said. “2013 was good for the county. We had a great year and I think 2014 is going to be even better because the economy seems to be turning around a bit, we have seen employment go up, we are looking forward to doing more work on our roads with new equipment at the road department and we had a little bit of surplus in our revenue for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.”
Caton said one of his goals for 2014 is getting a sales tax increase passed for a new hospital.
“We need to get our hospital started,” Caton said. “I am hoping to see a lot of progress with that this year because having a hospital in our county will attract more businesses to the area.”
Caton said work at the Chilton County Airport that started in 2013 and will continue in 2014 would also be beneficial to growth for the county.
“The Chilton County Airport Authority does a tremendous job,” Caton said. “In March, they plan to get the runway paved and re-lit. The steps they have taken to invest in the airport will be very beneficial to our county.”
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the airport in October 2013 to celebrate a $2.6 million investment at the airport.
The ceremony highlighted infrastructure improvement projects including a new runway lighting system, a resurfaced runway, the installation of a new hangar housing 10 airplanes and the clearing of six parcels of land near U.S. Highway 145 extending the runway to 5,000 feet.
Caton said the projects at the airport would help grow the county along with a new industrial park one mile from Interstate 65 Exit 212 named “Chilton Interstate Park.”
“That is our future growth,” Caton said. “That area will bring more jobs and more industries to the county. This is going to be an exciting year.”
Caton said the primary goal for the county is to continue to grow.
One of the biggest challenges the commission faced in 2013 was coming up with funding for Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis to purchase vehicles.
“We worked out a deal where we can put $100,000 in a vehicle fund each year and purchase four vehicles,” Caton said. “It will be on a rotating basis where we can get four vehicles to him each year. Not only will that make it safe for his deputies, but it will make it safe for our residents, but that was one of the biggest challenges this year.”
Another significant challenge the commission faced was losing commissioner Tim Mims in November 2013 after a battle with cancer.
“That was a tough, tough thing for us,” Caton said.
Although a replacement for Mims’ position has not been filled, Caton said it was his understanding Gov. Robert Bentley would appoint someone to the position after the primary election in June.
“We might welcome a new commissioner this year and I am looking forward to that,” Caton said. “I am confident Gov. Bentley will find the right person for that position.”