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Working together to build community

By Mark Rogers

The Lowndes Signal

Though I’m new to Lowndes County, and to Alabama, I can see the close working relationships in communities in action already.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting with Mayor Orbuty Ozier in Gordonville and seeing the fruits of the small town’s labors as the new Gordonville Municipal Complex was completed.

At the opening ceremonies, the number of people in attendance impressed me as well as the wide array of people there. I had the chance to talk with officials from state and federal levels and to residents of the small Lowndes County community.

One thing is for certain, from Rep. Kelvin J. Lawrence and Sheriff “Big John” Williams to Mayor Ozier and her husband, William, people care about their communities and about Lowndes County. I enjoyed speaking with many of them that day.

Last Thursday, I was in a different part of the county, attending the annual Lowndes County Farmers Federation banquet. I had a great time enjoying the company and the food. I listened to Jim Byard speak about economic development in Lowndes County and realized that from a location standpoint, the area has a number of strong positives. With three exits off of Interstate 65, the county can take advantage of tourist tax dollars to benefit the community. According to Byard, some 30,000 vehicles pass through Lowndes County each day. They stop, fuel up, grab some snacks or visit one of the area’s tourist attractions.

A look off the exit at Priester’s Pecans any given day shows the importance of agricultural tourism. At Thursday’s banquet I had the chance to sit and talk to Thomas Ellis of Priester’s, who serves as president of the Lowndes County Farmers Federation. I confessed to him that since moving to Alabama, I’ve been hooked on the company’s “Fiddlesticks,” which he said are a best seller.

Byard also mentioned the Civil Rights tourism impact. Lowndes County sits in the center of the historical road from Montgomery to Selma. U.S. 80 has many people traveling on it who are seeking to find historical markers and pieces of history that are such valuable lessons to us in 2019.

A trip into Hayneville shows the cooperation between businesses and government. Lowndes-countians are working hard to make their community the best it can be.

As for me, I look forward to meeting many more people in Lowndes County and serving the community. I also look forward to more trips to see local businesspeople like Joe Bell at the new Ace Hardware in Hayneville, or joining Mary Bell for some good food. Oh, and I’ve got to say that I enjoyed meeting Chequita Johnson and the folks at the Hwy. 80 Café, and yes, I had a cheeseburger there. All of the business people I’ve met have a genuine concern for their community and want to work together to support it.

I’m looking forward to watching these businesses and others succeed and grow.