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This week let’s talk about some of the great things going on in Coosa County! We have one of the most diverse areas of the state for outdoor activities, recreation and tourism. Our county has lakes, rivers, hiking trails, biking trails, horse trails, creeks, fishing, camping, boating, birding, hunting, and history.
All these things are of interest to people from all areas of our state, other areas of our country and people from other countries. We have areas around us that are capitalizing on bringing in visitors and revenue by way of these activities, but they have the infrastructure to support it.
What we need to do the same things is to have a vision, some courage to step out and some people willing to part with some property. What do YOU need when you go on a trip or vacation? I’m guessing you need a place to stay, somewhere to eat, probably gas stations, and local shopping. And that is exactly what we need to provide to entice people to come to Coosa County, Alabama. We have places to visit, but without the other businesses it does no good.
These things take time to accomplish, and we have wasted many, many years by not joining with the other counties in our area to share in the revenues they are bringing in to help with their tax base instead of relying on local citizens and a few businesses to fund the services that are needed for our county to operate. BUT I want to congratulate four members of our County Commission – Chair Bertha McElrath, Lamar Daugherty, Brandon Davis, and John Forbus for approving a resolution to start a ball rolling for Coosa County. They recently signed a resolution to join with Clay and Talladega counties in endorsing the proposed expansion of the Talladega National Forest to include areas within the three counties.
First – don’t jump to conclusions that this will involve imminent domain to take away people’s land! Only WILLING land owners will be able to sell their land for this use, and the county would actually receive more money in lieu of taxes that can go into our General Fund and be used as needed instead of being earmarked for specific uses. But before any of that can happen, this expansion must be approved by the U.S. Congress, and that can take a long time.
Right now it has the support of all three county commissions, state and federal senators and legislators, in addition to several entities at the state and federal level that want to work with us on this major project. Many tourism groups and organizations will also be working to get this approved at the federal level. One of the other benefits is Coosa County would have more opportunities for federal grants to help with infrastructure needs and funding.
Also, another step forward for our county is moving ahead. There was recently an article on the ABC 33/40 Facebook page that recognized the first in the country site that can process coated spherical graphite to help manufacture lithium-ion batteries. These are needed to operate cell phones, laptops, computers, and electric vehicles, to name a few. The plant is being built in the industrial park in Kellyton and is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2024.
Other plants are being built now all over the country and are being followed by battery plants just like the tier-two plants that came into Alabama with the automobile manufacturers. The domestic demand for graphite is enormous. And there is already a facility in Tuscaloosa that will process the recycling of lithium-ion batteries to expand the industry even further.
Coosa County stands to gain revenue, population and employment opportunities, but we need to start getting ready NOW! People will be moving into the area because we don’t have enough current population to support what the need will be. We need houses built, infrastructure improved and long-range planning to meet the needs in the near and distant future. We need quality single-family housing, as well as upscale apartments, in addition to gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores, and general stores.
There are Walmarts and other major chain stores in the surrounding areas, but mom-and-pop places owned and operated locally would help our economy. If you are a potential business owner or property owner, I hear that our Coosa County Chamber of Commerce is planning to grow its outreach to be ready for this growth. Now is a good time to get involved with our county commissioners, mayors and the COC to help provide a future here in Coosa County for your children and grandchildren!
I’m going to cut it short this week! I’ll review some local events next week that you might have missed if you weren’t aware of them – more good news.