Residents need to work promoting city

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, February 2, 2011

During any given month in my business, I have guests that are looking to relocate to this area. I have spent many hours driving potential new residents around the Atmore area showing positive attributes of our community as well as housing opportunities.

My most recent attempt to see Atmore involved a new manager at one of our local manufacturing companies. During our first outing this individual was taken back by the apparent lack of community concerns dealing with the apparent lack of code enforcement, poor or non-existent pride in how ownership as shown by the piles of trash around homes, trash not being collected at curbside, broken down vehicles in peoples yards, total lack of maintenance of homes, lack of sign ordinances and the apparent lack of pride in the way our city looks to outsiders.

I realize that forcing people to take care of their property is like enforcing mortality. It is impossible. But the city should and must take responsibility to enforce or implement codes that prevent businesses from putting up hand-painted signs, people from placing piles of household trash by the curb without using bags or trash cans, force land owners to either tear down or repair dilapidated structures, and prevent people from having what appears to be permanent yard sales where they store their wares on their front lawn or porch from week to week.

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The impressions that our city gives to visitors and more importantly to people looking to relocate here is dismal. Why is it that most management personnel working at our local manufacturing facilities live in either Mobile or Pensacola? It is not because they cannot afford to live in Atmore. They are willing to commute an hour each way rather than live in our community. Why is this? One of the major problems in the past was our schools. Now we as a community must improve our visual image. Just drive south from I-65 into down town Atmore. Take a look at what visitors see as they approach our town. It is embarrassing to say the least. I have seen commercial structures on Trammel Street that have the roof falling in for the past five years and out city has done nothing to force the owner to either fix the structure of tear it down. You would not see this sort of eyesore in Daphne or Fairhope. Why do these communities prevent this sort of thing in their neighborhoods? You do not see bill board after bill board or hand painted signs in front of businesses in these towns.

I realize that our city government has limited funds. I do not understand why our city government does not either enforce existing ordinances or create new ones that will enhance our city image. Why aren’t local real estate companies up in the arms? They of all people have to understand that these eyesores make property values fall and only encourage prospective homebuyers to look in other communities that have a better image. They should be knocking on the Mayor’s door insisting that we do something to enhance our city image.

We as a community must pull together to make Atmore a better place to live and to make Atmore a place where people will want to come to live. I constantly pick up trash in front of my property on Highway 21. I try to stay involved in our community and encourage everyone else to do the same.

There was a sign in what used to be Annie’s Community Cup that says it all in how to build a community. It says:

• Get to know your neighbors

• Plant Flowers

• Buy from a local merchant

• Help a lost dog

• Take your children to the park

• Support neighborhood schools

• Have potluck dinners with your neighbors

• Pick up litter

• Talk to the mail carrier

• Honor elders

• Hire young people for odd jobs

• Organize a block party

• Bake extra and share with a neighbor

• Open your shades

• Take back the night

• Listen before you react to anger

• Mediate a conflict

• Seek to understand

• Turn off your TV

• Smile and say hello to strangers when you pass them on the street or in the store

• Clean your yard up

• Help a neighbor clean their yard up

• If your house needs painting, paint it

• If your neighbor’s house needs painting, offer to help paint it

• Don’t litter and pick up trash in your yard and your neighbor’s yard

Atmore is a wonderful place to live and work. We need to pull together as a community and go to City Government meetings and let our voice be heard. Ask your city council person what you can do to help out. As the Mayor what you can do to help make Atmore a better place to live. We all need to “Just Do It.” Let’s make Atmore a show place that people will want to come visit, shop, eat and live. It takes all of us to make a community. Do your part. I promise to do mine.

Foster Kizer