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YEAR OF CHANGE: Politics, parks and paintings highlight Brundidge changes in 2016

After 40 years of serving the Brundidge community, Mayor Jimmy Ramage elected not to seek re-election in 2016, leaving the mayor’s chair available for new occupancy in the August city election.

In a runoff election mayor pro-tem and longtime member Cynthia Pearson lost to challenger and former city council member Isabell Boyd.

That was the big news in the city of 2,076 in the year 2016.

Two newcomers to politics, Bryon Gaynor and Chris Foster, will also be new to the city council, Gaynor as the council member for District 4 and Foster for District 5.

Ramage said the year 2016 brought immediate success and also paved the way for continued growth.

“We refinanced the city’s bonds and purchased land for future industrial growth,” Ramage said. “We also resolved the recreational park issue that had been lingering for about four years.”

Ramage said the refinancing of the city’s bonds, saved money and years on its maturity.

The city’s Industrial Development Board applied for a $1.36 million loan from South Alabama Electric Cooperative to assist with the development of Magnolia Vegetable Processors in the city’s 222-acre industrial park.

“MVP is scheduled to open around the second quarter of 2017 and will provide additional jobs for the people in our area,” Ramage said. “Brundidge has more jobs available than people who go to sleep in town every night.”

Ramage said the city had to wait for the Department of Interior to approve its park remediation plans before it could begin the project.

“We finally got the approval so the project can now move forward,” Ramage said.

The city had several projects underway at the same time during 2016, including those at the North Industrial Park. A Community Development Block Grant provided funding for the infrastructure at the North Industrial Park including road and sewer projects. The total cost of the projects was $424,881 with the city’s match at $174,881.

The city benefitted from ALDOT grant funding to construct a loop road at Southern Classic Foods. The road project was $472,295.

The city completed a street resurfacing project that included several areas of the city. The $650,000-project was funded with special revenue funds.

The city also began its $2.25 million clean water project that will be a complete overhaul of the sewer system including the pumping stations and the wastewater treatment facility.

Sidewalks were paved on S.A. Graham Boulevard from Main Street to the Chevron Station on Highway 231 and along Galloway Road. Funding for the sidewalk project was provided by a Transportation Alternative Project grant that was approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation in July 2014. The bid was awarded to H&L Construction Company in Troy in the amount of $288,626.88. The city used the $500,000 from the TransLoad America bankruptcy settlement to further reduce the $1.2 million loan incurred by the purchase of 222 acres for the development of an industrial park. The balance of the loan is $355,000. 

The city’s four-year legal battle to prevent Brundidge Acquisitions and the Coffee County Commission from operating a Subtitle D landfill within the city limits of Brundidge came to an end when the Alabama Supreme Court refused to hear the city’s appeal in the ongoing legal battle over the public landfill.

Coffee County Administrator Rod Morgan said two offers were made to the City of Brundidge but were rejected. One offer would have guaranteed a monthly royalty to the city of $10,000.

Morgan said hopefully the decision by the Alabama Supreme Court would provide a basis for the city and county to establish a structure for the landfill’s operation that “will benefit us all.”

The city’s Community Development Block Grant application for a splash pad park was denied. If funded, the project would have cost more than a half million dollars with the city’s cost at $375,565 including $117,000 in in-kind services. The grant would have provided $250,000 for a total cost of more than $600,000.

The city council established a new rental policy for Brundidge Station, which houses its senior nutrition program. The new policy increased the rental fee from $100 a day to $200 and requires licensed security for nighttime events at the lessee’s expense. The building closes at midnight.