Caton named interim IDA chair

Published 3:52 pm Wednesday, November 10, 2021

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Industrial Development Authority selected Allen Caton to serve as interim chairman  at its Nov. 9 meeting.

He will serve in this role until the usual nominations and election in January.

Monica Cooper, who had served on the board, recently stepped down, and the Commission appointed Christine Brown to fill the vacant position on the board.

“I think she will bring a lot to our board, and I appreciate you being willing to serve,” Caton said.

Another resignation from the board was announced at the meeting by Liz Huntley.

“I’m a little over extended …There is a lot going on, and I served a long time on the board ,and I feel like things are in a really good place for the county,” Huntley said.

While she said she was sad to be leaving the opportunity to serve, she was “happy to make room for someone who has the time to be able to give to it.”

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with all of you,” Huntley said.

Caton and IDA board member Shannon Welch thanked her for serving.

The IDA board will be recommending Jason Calhoun to the Chilton County Commission to fill the position.

Workforce development needs and partnerships were the main topic of the Nov. 9 meeting. IDA Executive Director Whitney Barlow began the conversation by talking about a conference she had recently attended that focused on automation and community development in relation to workforce.

An update was given that the CDL course at Jefferson State Community College will open in the spring. Barlow said the college is currently looking for instructors. A course on automation equipment is also in the works.

“Workforce development is probably the single most important thing that we can do because we can go out and recruit these companies that have 700 to 1,000 jobs, but we have to have the people to fill them,” Welch, Jemison city administrator, said.

He said there are a large number of local high school graduates who do not go to college and that creates an opportunity to get them into some specific training for needed local jobs.

Commissioner Jimmie Hardee talked about the current need for diesel mechanics, and Commissioner Allen Williams mentioned the need for those with experience in industrial maintenance.

He said partnering with LeCroy Career Technical Center was important to “push them in the direction of some of these jobs.”

Caton talked about how his business had multiple vacancies needing people with construction experience.

LCTC has courses in mechanics, industrial maintenance and building construction for high school juniors and seniors.

Welch said Barlow has been working with Jefferson State and existing industry to create post- high school career training opportunities.

Barlow also recently attended a tourism conference in Tennessee. She said the town it was held in was built near a railroad and offered many ideas of things that could be done in Maplesville, Jemison and Thorsby to increase tourism.

She said trails of tourism stops, usually laid out in a brochure or on a website, was one idea that Chilton county could implement.

Incorporating fishing at the lakes, and potentially partnering with Elmore County, was mentioned as a trail idea.

There was also brief discussion of the Alabama Farm Center project.

Maplesville Mayor W.C. Hayes said the cutting of the timber on the site had been completed.

Caton asked when Alfa’s deadline to purchase the wetland credits was. Barlow said it was Nov. 19. Essentially, the credits allow for a project to disturb wetlands in one area by financially contributing to the preservation of wetlands at another location, usually in the same watershed.

Caton said if the credits were not purchased by the deadline, then the process would have to start over “and it may take a year or two years to get that through.”

Commissioner and IDA member Matthew Mims said Alfa is aware of the deadline, and he would check with them on the progress.