Spotlight on Coastal Gateway
Atmore, originally known as Williams Station, was renamed in 1897 for C.P. Atmore, general ticket agent for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad that ran through the heart of town.
Butler, the county seat, just opened a 25-bed hospital built by Rush Health Systems. Choctaw General Hospital’s opening marks the first time in 18 years that the county has had a hospital, says Mayor Ben Smith. The city is working on infrastructure repairs that include residential sewer service and dual enrollment programs in industrial maintenance.
The town of Grove Hill, the county seat, hopes to expand its Clarke County Museum and its hospital, says Mayor Jerry Newton. While working on a beautification project, the town also bought a house and land for the magistrate and police department, and it’s working on expanding its sewer treatment plant.
The city of Thomasville has seen several new businesses locate downtown, and a $1 million fix-up of the last un-renovated building, says Mayor Sheldon Day.
“We have made downtown a great place to go,” he says. “We have shops, lofts and it’s a place to live, walk to the store and the post office—it’s a great mixed-use opportunity.” A children’s park also is in the works.
Thomasville expects more business to follow the new steel plants—$50 million worth in the next 24 months, including a hotel and retail, Day says.
The city of Jackson has been working on infrastructure since 2000, including an upgradeable water treatment plant, says Mayor Richard Long. The city also built a senior center, police and fire buildings, renovated its library and revamped a former Alabama Power building for the city court.
In the last two years, Evergreen, the county seat, has annexed land along highways and I-65 and attracted businesses that have quadrupled the city’s tax revenue, says Bobby Skipper, director of the Evergreen-Conecuh County Economic Development Office. A sports complex, amphitheater, horse arena, archery range and sports fields are in the works.
The town of Repton finished a beautification project earlier this year, says Mayor Terri Carter, and a downtown revitalization grant is in process to fund other improvements. “Our buildings were built in the 1880s, and we hope to renovate and rent some of them,” she says. “We also want to put in gas lanterns and streetlights, do sewer improvements and improve the sidewalks.”
A former hospital that shut down in 1955 is expected to become a museum, Carter says. “When it closed, everything was left in there, and we want to open the museum during our festival days.” An old historic home was moved with plans to make it a welcome center and a resource center for senior citizens, and an old cotton warehouse will get new life when it is revitalized. The city also plans to create a splash park and playground.
The city and other municipalities are in litigation with the Conecuh County Commission, developers and the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Planning Commission on the county’s plans for a 5,100-acre landfill, Carter says. The landfill, called Conecuh Woods, would accept garbage from 29 states and would be one of the largest landfills built in the U.S. The Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Alliance has said a landfill of that scope “could prove to be an insurmountable obstacle” for industrial recruitment.
Brewton, the county seat, renovated its downtown park and also is working on sewer, drainage, water and street problems, says Steve Yuhasz, the city’s community development director.
The city of Atmore continues to develop Rivercane, a mixed-use project that already has two hotels and three restaurants, says Mayor Howard Shell. The development, near the successful Wind Creek Casino and Hotel, also has an industrial component. “What we have now is already making a big difference in our sales tax revenue,” he says.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, owners of Wind Creek and more, is building a travel center in Atmore that should open in August. A clinic and assisted living facility are in the planning stage.
The city of Monroeville, the county seat, is working on a comprehensive plan covering land use, infrastructure, zoning and building, says Mayor Mike Kennedy.
The city’s Downtown Redevelopment Authority is offering grants to business owners to help them make improvements, he says. New park and pool facilities have opened and road surfacing is in the works.
The biggest new amenity is the city’s outdoor amphitheatre, made possible by Georgia-Pacific, which will be the new home of the “To Kill a Mockingbird” production that is now in its 51st year.