Gray wants CCDA to improve the community

Published 11:00 am Saturday, October 5, 2019

LANETT — Valerie Gray has been with the Chambers County Development Authority for 23 years now and would like to get in 25 years before a possible retirement.

Her goal is for the community to be better off than it was when she started, including to continue on current successes through 2021.

“That’s going to be hard when unemployment is at two-and-a-half percent,” she told members of the West Point Rotary Club on Thursday. “Things are good in a community when everyone’s working. Right now, we are taking a hard look at resources we may have overlooked.”

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One of those assets is the international program at Springwood School. Having bilingual students from Asia came in handy when a delegation from Asia, none of whom spoke English very well, visited the area recently. 

“We had a situation where we were going to need interpreters,” Gray said. “I contacted Springwood to see if they could help us. They sent us two students who did a fabulous job for us. We were able to communicate easily with our visitors, and their visit went very well. The international program at Springwood is an asset for our community.”Gray said that interior work has been going on at the future location of John Soules Foods in Valley. A problem at their main plant in Tyler, Texas has set them back some, but they are still on course to be open in late 2020 or early 2021. The opening will create an estimated 210 new jobs in the local area. That will go up to 535 when they are in full production in a few years.

The slight delay may have helped the East Alabama Water, Sewer and Fire Protection District in their efforts to have new water and sewer lines to the plant completed by start-up time.

One issue that could affect local water supply is the decommissioning of the Langdale, Crowhop and River View Dams on the Chattahoochee River. This appears to be in the works, and Georgia Power could have it done by 2022 or 2023.

Gray said that Georgia Power is likely to have a public meeting on this topic at Valley City Hall in January 2020.

Gray said her main concern with this is for Georgia Power “to make us whole on our water needs.”

Gray said she was pleased with Tractor Supply coming to Lanett. This was a project that just didn’t happen overnight. The CCDA staff provided the company with detailed information on the number of loggers, cattlemen and farmers in the surrounding area.

“It’s going to be a cool store,” she said. “They will have more than tractor supplies. They will have feed for all animals, Carhart clothing, anything for the rural lifestyle.”

Gray said that getting Tractor Supply was a big win for the Lanett Mill site and could spur development.