Update from the chamber

Another gubernatorial candidate to speak

Dr. Robert Bentley, a member of the Alabama House of Representatives and the third 2010 gubernatorial candidate to speak at the Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast, is special guest this morning, Oct. 23, at 7:30 at Twin Oaks in Oneonta.

The public is invited to attend as Dr. Bentley, a Republican from Tuscaloosa, discusses his platform and candidacy for governor. Dr. Bentley’s web site, www.robertbentley2010.com,
outlines his views on a variety of issues important to the people, institutions, and government of Alabama. Recently he introduced an amendment to the state constitution that would ban abortions performed in Alabama.

The program will be sponsored by the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB). Johnnie Mayfield, superintendent of industrial and commercial accounts, and Binnie Myles, public communications director, will attend the breakfast. Special thanks go to the BWWB for sponsoring the monthly event and for allowing the chamber to continue our programs to the public at no charge.

Blount County leadership

The Blount County Leadership Class sponsored by the chamber will have its first session in November. The people, leaders, institutions, organizations, government, and processes that make Blount County a special and unique area will be studied. The class will meet once a month for nine months and will include as one of those meetings a chartered bus trip to Montgomery for a state government day. Alumni of the class will attest to the benefit of participating in learning more about Blount County.

Covered Bridge Festival

The 26th annual Covered Bridge Festival (CBF) was a rousing success despite breezy, misty, and cool weather early on Saturday, Oct. 24. Remarkably, only eight vendors were no-shows. Even more remarkable, this year’s CBF had a record number of vendors attending the event.

The beauty pageant, golf tournament, arts and crafts festival, Saturday evening concert hosted by the Arts Council, 5K run sponsored by The Gym, and the breakfast benefitting the Children’s Center provided a wide variety of activities for all to enjoy. A more detailed description of the events will be provided in a forthcoming article.

A special thanks to all the volunteers for making the festival successful and well-run. There were a minimum of problems due to great planning by chamber officials, Oneonta Police Department, and the City of Oneonta. The Blount Countian
deserves special notice for excellent advertising and promotion of the annual event. Also, Mayor Darryl Ray, City Administrator Ed Lowe, Police Chief James Chapman, the Oneonta City Council, and the Oneonta Street Department deserve credit for making the event a success. And, the Oneonta Business Association provided invaluable insight during the planning process.

September unemployment

Alabama’s unemployment rate during the month of September 2009 jumped to 10.7 percent, almost twice the rate recorded one year ago and the highest in more than 24 years. September’s rate is up from the 10.3 percent in August 2009. It is nearly double the 5.4 percent recorded a year earlier. It is the highest since the state reached 10.9 percent in February 1984. Alabama’s modern day high was recorded in November and December 1982 at 14.4 percent.

A number of interesting facts can be found in the September 2009 numbers. Madison County, not Shelby County, recorded the lowest county jobless rate during the month. This is the first time in years that Shelby County has not enjoyed the lowest rate. Alabama’s September rate was higher than the national rate of 9.8 percent. Blount County tied with Chilton County for the second-lowest jobless rate in the Birmingham metro area. Forty-nine Alabama counties had unemployment rates higher than 10 percent. Forty other states had unemployment rates lower than Alabama’s rate.

Alabama’s jobless rate of 10.7 percent represents 223,165 unemployed persons during September. Wage and salary jobs for September registered losses in leisure and hospitality; trade, transportation, and utilities; manufacturing; and financial activities. Gains were realized in the areas of government, education and health services, construction, and professional and business services.

Blount County’s unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent in September, up from 9.7 percent in August. This represents 2517 countians without jobs. During September, 22,789 countians had jobs. The civilian labor force has declined from 26,225 in September 2008 to 25,306 in September 2009. Blount County was tied with two other counties for the 13th-lowest rate in the state.


An annual tradition continued during the fourth weekend of October highlighting the great quality of life and natural beauty of Blount County. The success of the event was largely the result of cooperation of many different groups.

Kay Ivey will speak at the chamber breakfast in November, continuing the gubernatorial candidate forum. The program will be sponsored by New Beacon Hospice.

During difficult economic times, there is much to be thankful for in Blount County. By working together, we are making a very good community even better.