Important chamber breakfast next week

The chamber breakfast to be held on Wednesday, Jan. 28, at Twin Oaks may prove to be one of the most important programs presented during my tenure. This opinion is based on the fact that local leaders came together and devised a strategy that saved a landmark, recruited organizations to locate there to serve the general public, and provided space as needed by county offices.

This achievement was the result of the local initiative of the chamber, Bud Jones, John Dobson, Royce King, Danny Hicks, and Bruce Phillips. Grant money gave the project further momentum, and today the completion of the endeavor is near with the support of Probate Judge David Standridge, the Blount County Commission, and the Blount County Health Care Authority. The project has received such favorable attention that other counties are visiting and studying our plan in order to build similar facilities.

The program begins at 7:30 a.m. and presentations will be made by Health Care Authority chairman Wendell Ellis, District Judge John Dobson, county commission Chairman David Standridge, and Hope House director Bud Jones. I think the general public will be surprised to learn of the many services and opportunities currently being offered in the former Blount Memorial Hospital building. And future plans include possibly moving certain county offices to the facility.

Breakfast sponsor

The sponsor of the January program will be the Hornets’ Nest, a restaurant started by Jeff Hallmark and Gregg Armstrong and recently sold to Freddie West. The Hornets’ Nest is located in Locust Fork, and it is located across highway 79 in front of the high school.

Health care authority

The Blount County Health Care Authority was created to replace the Blount County Hospital Board in 1997. The overall purpose of the authority is to promote public health, safety, and welfare for the people of Blount County. Funding for the authority comes from ad valorem taxes, two mills of county property taxes.

Currently, the Blount County Health Care Authority has nine members who are appointed by the Blount County Commission for six-year terms. Members of the board are Wendell Ellis (chairman), Don Jones (vice chairman), Sarah Holt, Becky McGowan, Gene Wadkins, Jeff Hallmark, Charles Wisdom, Ramey Peters, and Sara Holloway.

By providing resources to local schools and agencies, the Blount County Health Care Authority adds to the quality of life in the county.

School board recognition

The chamber will participate in the 16th annual School Board Member Recognition Month during January 2009. Schools across the state will salute some 800 local school board members for their contributions and dedication to public education.

Blount County is served by two very good school systems, a major factor in continuing population growth in the area. Both the Blount County and Oneonta school systems have five-member boards that are elected by the public within their particular jurisdictions. Members of the Blount County Board of Education are Andy Neil, Craig Johnson, Chris Latta, Gregg Armstrong, and Bruce McAfee. Members of the Oneonta Board of Education are Bill Burdette, Cindy Tidwell, Winston Scott, Geoff Smith, and Robbie McAlpine.

There are nine members of the Alabama State Board of Education. They are as follows: President-Governor Bob Riley; District 1-Randy McKinney, vice president, Gulf Shores; District 2-Betty Peters, Dothan; District 3- Stephanie W. Bell, Montgomery; District 4-Ethel Hall, Birmingham; District 5-Ella B. Bell, Montgomery; District 6-David F. Byers, Jr., Birmingham; District 7- Gary Warren, Haleyville; District 8-Mary Jane Caylor, president pro tem, Huntsville. State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton serves as secretary and executive officer of the board.

Town hall meeting

Alabama’s senior U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (RTuscaloosa) will hold a town hall meeting in the Oneonta City Hall (council chambers) on Friday, Feb. 20. The meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m., and Sen. Shelby will discuss issues pertinent to Blount County, Alabama, and the nation.

When first elected in 1986, Sen. Shelby pledged to visit each of Alabama’s 67 counties at least once a year. The chamber has had the privilege of hosting this annual event during the past seven years.

Please accept this as a personal invitation to come visit with Sen. Shelby. After his remarks, the senator will accept questions. The local media will have a presence, and representatives of local governments throughout Blount County are invited.

Inventors conference

The Alabama Conference for Inventors will be held at Jacksonville State University on Feb. 26. The program will be held on the eleventh floor of the Houston Cole Library, beginning at 7:45 a.m. and concluding at 4:15 p.m. Topics to be presented include patents, patent research, financing, research options, inventory assistance, product liability protection, and evaluating your product. Cost for the conference is $49 (lunch and conference materials are included).

Call 256-782-5324 or go to information/directions.html for more information.


The chamber leadership class met last Thursday and focused on industrial recruitment and business development. The three local industries visited were either recruited by the chamber or assisted by the chamber in job expansion. Each chief executive officer, chief operating officer, or owner expressed confidence in Blount County’s economy and indicated additional jobs will be added in the very near future.

Class members identified certain successful characteristics in each industry: manager’s vision, understanding of trends in the particular business, and the ability to hire good workers. This underscores the strong work ethic found in the local workforce.

By working together, we are making a very good community even better.