The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Positive things are happening in Bessemer

Let's catch up on some Bessemer news and announcements.

Farmer's market

The weekly Farmer's Market at Watermark Place Center will begin this Saturday from 7 am to 12 noon. Fresh, local produce and things for kids to do and entertainment and cooking demonstrations.

And did I mention, fresh, local produce?

Most of the Farmer's market vendors will accept senior citizen nutrition coupons.

Join me in welcoming this addition to Bessemer.

DHR Building groundbreaking

The groundbreaking for the new (close to) 6 million dollar DHR building will take place Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:00 at the site located at 1st Ave N and 20th St in Bessemer.

Today the site is in "pre-groundbreaking" mode.

Join me as we see the beginning of a change in downtown Bessemer.


A developer is wanting to annex a tract of land into Bessemer in the area of the Norfolk Southern railroad hub that is being being developed. The land is between McAdory School Road and McAshan Drive. The proposal was to be presented before the Bessemer City Council this morning in a special called meeting.

The council chamber was packed, with between 35-40 McCalla residents and a couple of dozen others and TV crews. A "comedy of errors" took place as the meeting began. I won't go into the details, but just let me say that it is further evidence that we need new leadership and a new council, but there will be plenty to say about that in the coming weeks as we approach the city elections.

The developer said this project would create 780 to 1000 jobs. The city would benefit because of the job creation and because of property taxes the city would collect.

Mayor Ed May said there is no downside to annexing land. That is how cities grow.

Council person (and County Commission candidate) Jimmie Stephens questioned the wisdom in development with an industrial use rather than residential development. The land includes two failed subdivisions.

It was pretty obvious that Stephens was acting more like a County Commissioner by looking out for the interests of the county residents than a City Councilor who should be representing the interests of the city and its residents. Clearly the annexation of the land would benefit the city.

The incumbent County Commissioner Bobby Humphryes (who will face Stephens in a runoff)was there, and he also spoke in opposition to the annexation, saying the county had a land use plan for the area that would retain the residential and agricultural zoning it now has and the development of a "village."

The council will probably vote on the issue at the next regular meeting on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. I say "probably" because you never know when this council will drop or add something to an agenda or call or cancel a special meeting.

In the meantime, go here to see how the Hub itself is a progressive thing, from an environmental standpoint, as it will help reduce traffic and pollution and cause a reduction in greenhouse gases. Other information about the hub and Norfolk Southern's outreach to the community can be found there as well.

The Bessemer City Council needs to recognize too that there are McCalla residents who support the hub and the associated development. The loudest voice is not always the most popular or the right voice.

And like Louise Alexander said, the council needs to do what is best for the city of Bessemer, not those who are outside the city. She said she would vote for the annexation.

She also asked why the McCalla residents don't ask to be annexed into Bessemer. Wade Cox, a resident of McCalla and spokesperson for those in attendance, tried to explain how they want an elite community without industry, without offending the Bessemer leaders that they want to avoid living under. Interesting.

There is nothing wrong with living in a city that celebrates diversity, and that includes a diverse array of job opportunities and types of business and industry. The Mayor mentioned that the CSX hub is adjacent to residential areas and practically in downtown Bessemer, and that Bessemer has a history of close ties to industry.

780-1000 jobs. Income for the city. Council members, remember that.

And McCalla residents, come on into the city of Bessemer. We don't bite.

IPEC and Camp Bessemer

The city is partnering with IPEC (Influencing to Provoke Empowerment for Change) to run Camp Bessemer, the summer program that provides jobs for young people and activities and children. The city will pay $195,000 to IPEC to run the program.

Today at the council meeting the council attempted to determine how to pay the money to the group and what kind of oversight they should have. What could (and should) have been a simple, 5 minute procedure turned into another extended discussion during which many of the audience members who were still there, including myself, had to leave in order to keep our wits about us.

At any rate, Camp Bessemer will begin Monday, June 7. Spanish lessons, reading help, arts and crafts and other activities will take place.

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