Candidates: Quality of life key to success

Published 2:59pm Saturday, July 28, 2012

Crime and quality of life are two very different subjects, but can also become intertwined and both issues are currently weighing heavy on the minds of Atmore mayoral hopefuls Bernard Bishop, Jim Staff and Lloyd Albritton as municipal races draw closer to election day.

Albritton said he believes quality of life in Atmore is directly related to the diversity of the city’s business and industry.

“I think quality of life in Atmore is going to relate to us having easier access to shopping, for example,” Albritton said. “A lot of people don’t have transportation and we take it for granted some times that we can just jump on 31 and run down to Eastern Shore. We’ve got to provide the goods and services people need and want in our town. It’s great to say people should shop here, but we have to give them the things they want to buy.”

Both Albritton and Bishop pointed to more community services as both a quality of life issue and a way to deter crime through keeping Atmore’s youth off the streets.

“For young people. We have virtually nothing for them to do,” Albritton said. “We desperately need a youth center. I think we can resolve that problem. I think we need to try to get a new senior center and maybe turn the senior center into a youth center.”

“There’s a lack of activities for the youth and, unfortunately, most of our crimes are committed by our youth,” Bishop said. “I think we need to do more to promote summer camps and activities to be involved in.”

Bishop said keeping crime off the streets directly adds to the quality of life itself.

“We need to be more aggressive with stiffer punishments against those who commit these crimes,” he said. “A message needs to be sent that we don’t tolerate those things in Atmore.”

Bishop said the bottom line of his entire campaign is unity, an ideal that he said would help ease crime rates and improve life in Atmore.

“I think we’re sitting on the threshold of a great town on the rise,” he said. “Some of the small differences we all have like religion race, etc. are holding us back from uniting. If we can just drop some of the small differences and arguments that we have, there’s nothing that can stop the city of Atmore.”

Staff said, while there is always room for improvement, Atmore is in a good place, crime-wise, that must be maintained.

“Atmore is no better or worse off than any community our same size,” Staff said. “We have checked the statistics just to see. We are living in a real liberal society. I believe the way to prevent crime is with the family. There is a sign on a church (in town) that said your home is a school, what are you teaching? I think it says it all right there. There are some people who are going to do it anyway; there is nothing you can do about that. We’ve put most of our police officers working at night, because that’s when most of the meanness is. And that has helped a lot. If someone is seen walking the streets 11 or 12 o’clock at night, they stop and talk to them and see what their reasons for being out is. And that has really helped. But there are some things you cannot prevent.”

Staff said Atmore’s law enforcement agencies have done a good job of maintaining a safe environment in Atmore.

“I talked to a lady on Hare Street day before yesterday and a lady at Point Escambia Apartments. Both of them said the same thing – that Atmore is the safest place they’ve lived. The lady on Hare Street said she isn’t afraid to sleep with her windows open.  Every now and then something happens. But usually when something happens, they get their man.”

Staff said quality of life is also an issue that is on the upswing in Atmore.

“We’ve got a good quality of life,” Staff said. “We’ve got summer programs for the children, t-ball, baseball, swimming lessons, two parks. We’re close to the beaches. We’re far enough away from the big cities, yet we’re close to them. We’ve got a clean town. The downtown area, they keep it nice.”

Staff also pointed to educational opportunities as a plus for quality of life.

“You can graduate our schools, public or private, with 24 college hours,” he said. “They’ve got a twilight program in the schools, that’s there in case you’ve dropped out of school or need to work, you can finish up at night. Graduate rates have increased in the past two years. It’s trucking, it’s coming together.”

Staff the most important aspect adding to Atmore’s quality of life is its people.

“People are working hard,” he said. “We’ve got comities based on volunteer people, and they are working hard. I’ve raised six children here, and they did well.”

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