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City and County leaders reflect on 2021 and share hopes for 2022

“We’ve had our challenges and of course the COVID really made things very challenging, but I think there’s a lot of positives that I see in this community,”
Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 8:30 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Ringing in the New Year means new goals for city and county leaders, and a reflection on the last 365 days.

Huntsville City Councilman Bill Kling says there were a lot of great economic developments in Huntsville in the last year, and he’s very upbeat about where this city is going. Kling says from new industries providing jobs to new housing developments being built, and more, there’s a lot that is contributing to the city’s growth.

Kling says the city is growing in a positive manner and people are really wanting to move to the center of the action. He says interior neighborhoods in Huntsville have been a huge focus of 2021, as well as road resurfacing as they spent a record $15 million from the budget on it this last year.

Kling says as for what’s new in 2022, he’s excited for a north bypass and eventually a south bypass that will help residents avoid traffic congestion and improve the quality of life here.

“We’ve had our challenges and of course, the COVID really made things very challenging, but I think there’s a lot of positives that I see in this community. In fact, if you drive around and look at the inner city areas, you’re gonna see a lot of new home construction taking place. People who are taking older homes, renovating, expanding those. And unlike for example Birmingham, where people are moving out to the suburbs, we have a lot of activity and interest of people moving into the central areas of the city and I like the fact that Huntsville is a city of good neighborhoods,” said Kling.

In Decatur, City Council President Jacob Ladner says that in 2021, there were two negative things they needed to sort out, which was the 3M settlement and the sanitary sewage overflow issue in the city, and they did just that. Ladner says those were really important issues to get behind the city to be able to look forward to an exciting 2022 and beyond.

Ladner says as for what’s to come in 2022, Decatur residents can expect a lot. He says a brand new hotel and parking garage will be built downtown, something he says residents have been wanting for a while.

The city can also expect the building of a new Aquadome Rec Center, a new dormitory building for the Alabama Center for the Arts, and the new 6th Avenue improvement project construction should begin in the new year.

Ladner says there’s also plans for a new farmers market downtown, and that residential growth in the last year been huge, and will continue to be.

”We just haven’t had a lot of new big projects that have gone up in Decatur. I mean our recreation centers are 50 plus years old and so, it’s just really exciting I think for residents to see some dirt moving around and it was, you know it’s fun to be apart of that, but it’s really our residents that, we have people that are really engaged in what we’re doing and supportive, and that’s really what it takes. It’s not all about the city government, it’s about the private industry seeing the momentum and coming and partnering with the city to help us continue to grow,” said Ladner.

In Limestone County, President and CEO of the Economic Development Association Bethany Shockney says they’ve seen record growth in the last year in both the county and city of Athens. Shockney says they’ve been fortunate to have support from leaders that allowed the county to improve their infrastructure and different parts of the community.

Shockney says as for the upcoming year, the county still has to be mindful of the growth it’s experiencing, and their trying to catch up with residential growth. Shockney says there’s big thing to come for Limestone County in the new year.

”Our area is just a wonderful area. It’s a great place to raise families, excellent schools in our whole region. And that is one thing that has been the tipping point on some of our announcements that we’ve had recently based on some of the reports from the corporate representatives from most companies. But, we’re gonna have more announcements coming up. We had several hundred jobs announced this past year, and we look for more,” said Shockney.

Shockney says the county will also continue to work on road projects they received from state and federal allocations in 2022.

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