Passing the Baton

Published 6:23 am Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Atmore Mayor Howard Shell, right, shakes hands with Mayor-elect Jim Staff at Atmore City Hall after Tuesday’s municipal election.

The votes have all been tallied in Atmore’s municipal election and while candidates for two city council seats are preparing for runoffs, mayor-elect Jim Staff is preparing to take office in November.

Following the election Staff, a current city councilman, said it would be business as usual at city hall between now and the administration change.

Once the conversion is complete, Staff said he and his team will get to work tackling some of Atmore’s biggest problems.

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“Infrastructure is a big thing we need to work on,” Staff said. “That’s got to be done. That’s number one.”
Staff said drainage ditches damaged during Ivan and other flooding incidents have caused some back ups the city needs to address.

“All that water flowing causes problems and then we had that 12 inches or so of rain a few years back that hurt us. We’ve got to fix it.”

Staff also mentioned other cleaning and beautification projects he thinks could help Atmore’s overall image and possibly make the city even more attractive to companies like Airbus.

“I would dearly love to have new street sweeper,” Staff said. “Ours was worn out. It just wasn’t worth fixing.”

But Staff said he is not simply relying on Airbus to drift into town and notice the changes, but rather will pursue the company aggressively.

“We’re going to pursue Airbus hard,” Staff said. “The Industrial Development Board is already working on putting something together for just Atmore.”

Staff said the city is planning to team up with teachers and students at Escambia County High School in order to create a video message that could give Airbus officials a visual of all Atmore has to offer.

Staff also pointed to work that has already been done, as well as existing industry as positives in Atmore’s quest for Airbus suppliers.

“Muskogee Metalworks and Escofab have both already been in contact with Airbus,” Staff said. “Muskogee is contracted with the Department of Defense, so I think we have leg up because we have people that are already working on airplanes.”

Staff said more businesses are also expressing interest in Rivercane, which he added the IDB will continue to work hard to populate. Staff said, while business and industry, jobs and infrastructure will top his list of projects, his staff will also be working on many other projects in the coming months and years aimed at creating a better and safer Atmore.