Out With 2016; In With 2017

2016 is out and 2017 is here! Here is a short list of things we’ve been working on over the past year as well as a few things to be on the lookout for in 2017:

2016 Recap

  • New radio system for the Sheriff’s Department – Our existing system was so old it could no longer be serviced by the vendor. Yes, it is a lot of money: $1.7M+ at last count, but our law enforcement officers must have a quality radio system. This was a no-brainer decision for me and I’m excited that our Deputies will be able to call for backup no matter where they are located in the county.
  • No, we still don’t have enough money to resurface your road – We have $40M in road resurfacing work that will be needed in the coming years. Ultimately, the Alabama Legislature has to provide an adequate amount of funding for our road system. I’m hoping they soon remember that infrastructure is one of the most fundamental roles of government.
  • New EMA Director – We sifted through dozens of quality applicants and whittled them down to just a few who sat for a formal interview. We had applicants who ran security for large corporations, a former Navy Seal with emergency management experience, and a person who ran a company that trains soldiers for the U.S. military. In the end, the person selected was Chris Judah. I had met Chris before and he came to see me early in the process. I was very excited to hear he was the one that the committee recommended.
  • Wiregrass 2030 – I was able to begin an initiative that I believe will greatly enhance our community over time. Most of the local leaders are now on board. In 2017, we’ll begin to work on some of the finer details of our plan and hopefully see it begin to take shape.

What to look for in 2017

Houston County

  • Our Sheriff Department’s new radio system will go live, hopefully in the late spring or early summer.
  • We will make progress on reforming the pay structure of county employees to encourage better job performance and improved customer service. This probably won’t be completed until 2018, however.
  • The volunteer fire and rescue system we’ve had for decades still works great in some areas but has been struggling in others. I don’t see this system going away in 2017 but we have no option but to look at alternatives and plan for future possibilities. Not having adequate fire and rescue service simply isn’t an option.

Alabama

  • The 2018 election will begin to heat up in June of this year as potential candidates can begin raising funds for the 2018 primary elections. My prediction is for a turbulent election season both locally and state-wide.

Our Nation

  • President Trump will be sworn into office on Friday, 20 January as the 45th President of the United States. Going back to President Washington, the inauguration will mark the 44th time the most powerful office has transferred peacefully from one person to another.
  • A total solar eclipse will pass through South Carolina and Tennessee on 21 August. You can find out more about the exact path by going to eclipse2017.org.
  • On 26 October, the collection of records established by the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 will be completely disclosed to the public.