Ramage stepping down after 42 years

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2016



After serving the people of Brundidge for 40 years, first as a member of the city commission for a short time and then as mayor for the long term, Jimmy Ramage made the decision not to seek re-election to the mayor’s office in 2016.

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“When you are doing city business, sometimes it’s a sit and wait situation,” Ramage said. “Sometimes things come at you really fast but you have to always keep pushing, trying to make a positive difference in your city. Forty-years is a long time and it was time. But, I’m not going away. I’ll stay involved at some level. I’ve been doing this too long not to stay involved.”

The Brundidge extended community will have an opportunity to show its appreciation to Ramage for his commitment to community at a reception in his honor from 3 until 5 p.m. Thursday at Collier’s Warehouse in downtown Brundidge.

Chuck Caraway, owner Southern Classic Foods and BBA member, said everyone is invited to come say “thank you, mayor.”

Ramage ran for the Brundidge City Commission when he was 29 years old at the insistence of Commissioner Robert Barr.

“Robert told me if Johnnie and I were going to stay in Brundidge, I needed to be involved in city government,” Ramage said. “After about three years, I was thinking about getting out of politics but Robert said I needed to stay. I always liked to do what Robert said.”

Ramage said the City of Brundidge has been through some tough and trying times but has always come through.

“Looking back on the years, I sometimes think, ‘How in the world did this happen,’” he said. “Maybe it was being at the right place at the right time or knowing the right people or, maybe, it was divine intervention. But somehow, we were able to keep our heads above the water.”

For years, Brundidge was a textile town.

“First, we had the glove factory and then shirt factories,” Ramage said. “At one time, Fruit of the Loom employed about 800 people. Our people had jobs, good jobs, and times were good. Then, textile plants all over began to move down under and times were hard for a while.��

But Brundidge was better prepared for the downturn than some small cities, primarily because its wastewater treatment plant was tailor-made for the food manufacturing industry.

“Our wastewater treatment plant was designed to separate the oil from the water before it went into the creek,” Ramage said. “So, Brundidge was attractive to food manufacturing plants. We already had Dickert Lumber Company and Brundidge Electronics and, with food manufacturing plants like Borden’s and then Piknik coming in, things picked up.”

The city’s fortune turned even more toward the sunlight when Walmart chose Brundidge as the location for a distribution facility.

“Wiley Lott, a Brundidge native, was working with Walmart and he was instrumental in getting us a look,” Ramage said. “And, Walmart liked what we had to offer. Brundidge got the nod over Mobile.”

Brundidge now has a strong food manufacturing base with Supreme Oil (Stratas), Southern Classic Foods and Magnolia Vegetable Processors along with mainstays BEC and Dickert Lumber Company. The town has several restaurants and retail stores and downtown businesses. The city has the 200 acres in the North Industrial Park on the rail line available for future growth.

“Brundidge is in excellent financial shape,” Ramage said. “We recently reduced the city’s $1.2 million loan to under $350,000. We’ve gotten the go-ahead on the park remediation plans for walking trails and picnic areas at Ramage Park. So, we have a lot of good things going on.”

Ramage is leaving office with the city in sound financial shape and opportunities for future industrial growth. He would like to have a magic wand to wave that would transform the downtown area into a retail market area.

“Brundidge is facing the same situation as small and large cities as far as retail,” he said. “People are shopping online, and it’s hurting retail.  But, Brundidge has always found a way to overcome hardships. There’s a way to boost our downtown.  I’ll stay involved and help any way I can.”