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THE YEAR AHEAD: Commission chairman hopes economy will improve

Chilton County Commission Chairman Allen Caton hopes 2013 will be a year for economic growth within the county.

“The economy has been so bad,” Caton said. “Just when you think it might be getting better you look at it again and it is down. You just have to be careful with how you generate revenue sources and you don’t want to put financial burdens on people they can’t afford.”

Caton said one of the biggest goals he has for the commission to accomplish is to see more revenue for roads and bridges.

“We are basically just patching everything right now,” Caton said. “We don’t have the funding for it. The commission is looking at different revenue sources and trying to generate other ways for revenue.”

Caton said bringing more industry to the county is something he places high on the commission’s priority list due to more industry in the county bringing more jobs.

“People are not looking to spend more money than they have to,” Caton said. “There are not a lot of people who are wanting to spend money to start a new business so we are trying to look at existing businesses in terms of expansion.”

Caton said he is thankful for working with a group of commissioners who work well together noting that six of the seven commissioners have worked together for many years.

“We are looking forward to working with a new commissioner (Shannon Welch) this year who we firmly believe will come in and complement us,” Caton said. “He has already shown that he wants to be a part of the commission and help in any way he can. I am just thankful we are able to maintain a togetherness because it is that togetherness that allows us to work really well together.”

Caton said the commissioners do not always see eye to eye on certain things but never fight and work well in trying to understand one another.

“I know this sounds cliché but we really are like a family,” Caton said. “We talk to each other and care about each other.”

Caton said another goal he would like to see happen during 2013 would be meeting with department heads and elected officials to talk about different ways to generate revenue and bring more businesses into the county.

“I think it would be beneficial to have the different mayors from each city come together and talk about what we could do for Chilton County,” Caton said. “We could see what is going to happen and what is happening in our towns and would be a great way to come together.”

Caton said the hardest part of serving on the commission is telling people no.

“So many people come to the commission and approach us with an issue and we often have to say no because we don’t have the revenue to help them,” Caton said. “It is really tough telling them we don’t have the money because when they walk into a meeting we know they wouldn’t be asking if they didn’t really need it.”

Caton said he looks forward to 2013 thanking the commissioners he works alongside.

“I have some wonderful commissioners working with me,” Caton said. “This is a seven-man show and it takes all seven of us to make everything work.”