Thanks to the Alabama Senate, Roling is now ‘Mayor of Orion’
Published 3:00 am Tuesday, April 5, 2016
By resolution of the Senate of the State of Alabama, Keith Roling is the honorary mayor of Orion, Alabama with all the duties and privileges commensurate with the post.
Resolution No. 16-102 was approved by the 35-member Senate on March 22, 2016, and signed by Senate Secretary Patrick Harris and Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey.
The proclamation was presented to Roling on April 3, 2016 by Harris and other members of the legislative delegation of the Orion Hunt Club at the First Sunday meeting in downtown Orion.
About 50 people attended the mid-turkey season gathering, which provided the backdrop for the historic mayoral event.
The catered affair was by Booty Bruce of Horn Beverage and Gerald Boswell of Elba, who fried fish, hush puppies and taters and also mixed the slaw. Musical entertainment was by Alan Wood of Troy.
The resolution was presented to Roling at the mayor’s home high atop Chunnenuggee Ridge at the crossroads in downtown Orion.
Roling said he was surprised and also very appreciative of the high honor bestowed upon him.
“We always joked that Jerry Hooks was the mayor of Orion then he moved to Pine Level and we didn’t have a mayor,” Roling said. “It is a real honor for me to be the ‘official’ honorary mayor of Orion. I love this place.”
Roling’s grandfather C.F. Roling, Sr. owned and operated a store and farm at the crossroads from around 1929 until 1969. Mayor Roling’s dad, C.F. Roling, Jr. went in business with his dad from 1940 until 1970. The four-lane bypassed Orion in 1969 just as the railroad did in 1870 and Orion began to decline.
“Orion was founded before Alabama was a state,” Roling said. “It was originally called Prospect Ridge or something like that but the settlers wanted a name with a little more prestige so they named it Orion, for the constellation.”
By 1830, wealthy settlers had found their way to the ridge and were building homes there. Prominent names associated with Orion include Siler, Chancey, McClendon, Hooks, Inabinette and McCloud.
The mayor said “to do well in Orion” was to marry well and a lot of people married well. “At one time about 1,200 people lived in Orion. The town had two streets Broad and Main. There was even a restaurant in the downtown area. The Siler Plantation was one of the top ten largest plantations in the state.”
Having grown up in Orion and having moved back there, Roling is well versed in the history of Orion. Among his mayoral responsibilities will be to act as a tour guide for those who want to know more about the community at the crossroads.
“A gentleman from New Orleans came up to hunt with a group that has a hunting place nearby,” Roling said. “He owns a place called the Lucky Dog so he brought oysters and we shucked and ate. And, I appreciated what he said – that life is a lot different up here at on the ridge and at the crossroads. I hope we can keep it that way.”
Monday was Roling’s first official day as honorary mayor of Orion.
“It was a busy day in Orion,” Roling said. “I plan to uphold the tradition that has served Orion and its citizens so well and keep to keep that tradition going. We’ll celebrate our 206th anniversary this year. We’ll plan a big celebration.
As mayor, Roling will be wear a top hat and morning coat for the anniversary celebration.
He will be similarly attired for Ground Hog Day, which he has declared will be the official annual day of celebration in Orion.