Update from the chamber of commerce

Members of health care authority to speak at breakfast


A special thanks to the 200-plus who attended the chamber’s Christmas breakfast at Twin Oaks on Thursday, Dec. 19. The clubhouse was beautifully decorated and seasonal food dishes were prepared for all attending. A truly festive atmosphere was present even though inclement weather greeted our guests. Alabama Power Company, a great chamber member and partner of many of our initiatives, sponsored the breakfast. It is the corporate generosity of local entities like Alabama Power that allows the chamber to host community breakfasts.

Brother Bert Goodwin, who is a retired United Methodist minister, was our principle speaker, and he enthralled those attending with an address on “The Meaning of Christmas.” Brother Larry Gipson, pastor of First Baptist Church Oneonta, led the invocation. Chris Green, Tommy Prickett, and Randy and Deborah Beason provided Christmas music. Green, the Blount County Revenue Commissioner-elect, led the audience in singing traditional Christmas songs. And, as an added treat, District Judge John Dobson and Circuit Judge Steven King presented Bible readings. Miss Covered Bridge 2009 Mallory Meissner had the opportunity to introduce herself to Blount County.

Everyone had a great time with the fellowship and a great message.

January Breakfast

The first chamber breakfast for 2009 will feature members of the Blount County Health Care Authority – Probate Judge David Standridge, District Judge John Dobson, and Wendell Ellis, board chairman – and Bud Jones, director of the Hope House. This breakfast will be held Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 a.m. at Twin Oaks and will be sponsored by a company operated by Jeff Hallmark, a member of the Health Care Authority.

The purpose of the meeting is to bring the public up to date on progress being made in the renovation of the old Blount Memorial Hospital. The interior of the facility is close to being completely refurbished and space will be made available to the county commission for agency relocation as needed.

This is truly a wonderful work in progress. The chamber takes pride in being involved in the early stages of fund-raising and renovation. Also, former Probate Judge Royce King and former Health Care Authority chairman Bruce Phillips were instrumental in the early planning and development.

This is a great opportunity to learn about a local project that will advance county government and local non-profit organizations.

November Unemployment Rate

The Alabama State Department of Industrial Relations last week released jobless figures for the state and its 67 counties. Alabama’s unemployment rate rose from 5.5 percent in October 2008 to 6.1 percent in November 2008. This represents an increase of 10,983 additional unemployed Alabama citizens during the month of November. Alabama is tied with three other states for the 25th-lowest unemployment rate. The state’s jobless rate has not risen to this level since December 1993.

Many economists predict the state’s unemployment rate will continue to increase as the recession worsens. However, Alabama’s rate for November remained well below the national average of 6.7 percent. Only Virginia (4.8 percent), Louisiana (5.3 percent), Arkansas (5.7 percent), and Texas (5.7 percent) were Southern states with lower rates than Alabama for the month of November.

The states with the lowest rates are as follows: 1) Wyoming, 3.2 percent; 2) North Dakota, 3.3 percent; 3) South Dakota, 3.4 percent; 4) Nebraska and Utah, 3.7 percent.

The states with the highest rates include: 51) Michigan, 9.6 percent; 50) Rhode Island, 9.3 percent; 49) South Carolina and California, 8.4 percent; and 47) Oregon, 8.1 percent. Note: this survey includes Washington, D.C.

Alabama counties with the lowest unemployment rates during October were: 1) Shelby, 3.9 percent; 2) Madison, 4.1 percent; 3) Tuscaloosa, 4.6 percent; 4) Blount and Pike, 4.8 percent.

The Alabama counties with the highest rates were: 67) Chambers, 14.6 percent; 66) Wilcox, 14.9 percent; 65) Bullock, 12.1 percent; 64) Dallas, 12 percent; and 63) Lowndes, 11.4 percent. Ten Alabama counties recorded unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher.

Blount County continues to fair well on a comparable basis, but each county resident without a job is one too many on the unemployment list. There were 26,740 Blount Countians in the civilian workforce during November, an increase of four from October. There were 25,421 countians employed and 1319 unemployed during the month of November. This is an increase of 200 county residents who lost their jobs during the month.

New business continues to locate in the county and the Oneonta area, a testament to the quality of life found here.

Conclusion

During difficult economic times, it is important to shop at home, patronizing local merchants. You are not only helping local businesses but you are also providing tax dollars for local governments.

Don’t forget the chamber breakfast on Jan. 28, an opportunity to learn about an exciting local project.

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