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Leaders deserve praise for recent action

By By BRIAN BLACKLEY
Publisher
The city of Atmore and the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce have been on the move both putting out fires and building community spirit through local activities, and to a first-time Christmas Parade onlooker like me, it was something to behold.
That said, I'd like to start with the best news first.
Saturday, the Chamber sponsored a full day of Christmas activities that left folks plenty of time between events to do some local shopping to take advantage of the December city sales tax reprieve.
The day's highlights were Breakfast with Santa, an event held to give local children the opportunity to pass their Christmas lists along to Santa Claus. Numerous children turned out for the event and almost all were sure to whisper a little something to St. Nick, most in the form of Christmas requests.
The Children's Parade proved a hit, too, with kids of all ages and sizes wearing their Christmas finest and walking, skating, or riding through the streets of Atmore as they enjoyed beautiful skies and reveled in the spirit of Christmas.
Costumes came in all shapes and forms and participants in the parade included kids dressed as reindeer, Christmas gifts, angels and more.
The highlight of the day, though, was the Christmas parade itself which brought people together along the streets of the city to see their friends and family members riding on floats, fire trucks, in antique cars and other beautifully-decorated, festive vehicles.
I'd like to applaud the Chamber and the folks who helped organize the events of the day for giving Atmore something spectacular this holiday season. I can tell you that my wife and daughter were giggling with delight the whole way through.
But the parade was significant in a larger sense. In these uncertain times, we all were able to benefit from the holiday cheer that was spread Saturday.
Which brings me to the second point – our current uncertainty about the future.
No one was fully prepared for the tidings this holiday season would bring Atmore this year when plant closings were announced at some local industries. Maybe I am speaking for too many people, though. Let's say then that I didn't see it coming – which is probably nothing new.
As the number of projected jobless began to rise, our community found itself in a state of shock, horror and bewilderment. Though some may have known layoffs were coming, the announcement that Vanity Fair would shut down its local plant hit hard.
Chamber and city officials said they would work to lessen the effects of the catastrophe, and the question, "How?" was perched on local lips.
While success at recruiting new business to the area has not yet been realized, there is good news. The city, working with the Chamber of Commerce and with local business leaders, has agreed to sacrifice $220,000 in revenue for the sake of our local economy.
While the move may not be as welcome as a new business that would employ several hundred people, it shows something important is going on in Atmore. Leaders are thinking in non-traditional ways as they seek to solve a non-traditional problem.
The important thing to note here is that they are doing something to help offset the problem, and their efforts have gained attention from various state media organizations.
Though Atmore has met with bad news lately, the spirit of the city is still where it has always been – in the hearts of local residents and leaders who are working together to make good things happen.
Be proud of what your city is doing to improve conditions for you and take interest in community functions like the parade and the added incentives you have to shop at home.
Only by coming together and working together can we overcome our obstacles.
The Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce and city leaders understand this and have taken bold steps forward to improve our lives and our futures.
To them, I'd like to say thank you.
And I think it would also be a good idea to encourage local residents to continue their holiday savings by shopping at home where they can save 3 percent on all purchases in December courtesy of City Hall and the temporary halt on sales tax collections by the city.
Every purchase you make locally goes a long way toward protecting the integrity of our community.
Brian Blackley is publisher of The Atmore Advance. Contact him at 368-2123 or e-mail him at brian.blackley@atmoreadvance.com.