2011 saw growth, changes in government

Published 9:08 am Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It wasn’t without a little struggle in some instances, but 2011 was a good year for Pike County, according to government officials.

New faces in a few positions, infrastructure improvements and redistricting were all part of the last year.

“It was a tremendous year for us with growth,” said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford. “We were finally able to get our finances in order to proceed with our library project and nutrition center. It was nice to be able to pull the trigger and go forward.”

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Troy also committed to a new public works facility and began a project to improve Brundidge Street with a 12-inch water main. The efforts from Blackmon Street to Center Street, down Park Street to Elm Street and ending at George Wallace Drive are part of a $6 million sewer and infrastructure project.

After that work is completed, Brundidge Street will be widened and resurfaced.

“We were successful in acquiring close to $4 million for infrastructure the city needed,” Lunsford said. “That’s a real blessing and money our citizens don’t have to spend.”

Lunsford said he feels the city is back in growth mode after he looked back at sales tax this year.

“It was extremely positive, I think, that 11 of the 12 months this year the city showed an increase in sales tax,” Lunsford said.

There were a few new people in different positions this year, too.

“There were tremendous mixed emotions to see someone like our former Police Chief Anthony Everage resign, but we’re happy Chief Jimmy Ennis has taken over.”

Everage had served as chief for 14 years.

Lunsford said he was also able to move Melissa Sanders into a planning and zoning position and she’s proven to be a “tremendous asset to the city.”

Most everything was smooth sailing in Goshen in 2011.

“It’s been pretty steady as far as our base income taxes and revenue coming in. We don’t owe anybody anything,” said Goshen Mayor Jack Waller.

Goshen replaced fire hydrants, improved the city water system and turned the annex building into a place for town functions.

Waller also said Goshen held a fund-raiser for the volunteer fire department and was able to purchase new equipment for the firefighters.

“We appreciate them. Without them our insurance rates would be a lot higher than they are,” Waller said.

Pike County Administrator Harry Sanders said the county is much more financially sound than it has been in year’s past, and the biggest challenge for next year will be coming up with a plan to snag equipment and funds to improve roads and bridges.

Hands down, the biggest issue the Pike County Commission had to face this year was redistricting, Sanders said.

“We had to do it twice, at no fault to any official,” Sanders said. “It’s just one of those things that happened.”

The Department of Justice noticed a flaw in the county’s original plan and officials were able to track the mistake back to incorrect data provided by a demographer.

District lines have been redrawn and a public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. After that, the plan will be resubmitted to the Department of Justice for approval.

The City of Brundidge will also have to deal with redrawing district lines because of data received from the same demographer the county used.

Other than that, the year’s been fairly positive for Brundidge, according to the mayor.

“Our sales tax and other revenues were over budget,” said Mayor Jimmy Ramage.

Brundidge finished their library project, opened the county government annex at a low cost after the building was purchased for less than $2,500 and the city was awarded a grant to continue changing street lights.

Ramage also said local businesses should be proud.

“Our industries were able to keep our unemployment rate third in the state, trailing only Shelby and Coffee counties most of the year.”