Riley speaks to Valley Lions

Published 10:25 am Thursday, March 21, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

VALLEY — There were two guest speakers at Monday’s meeting of the Valley Lions Club. Organizer Sara Crutchfield talked about Saturday’s first-ever ValleyFest, and Mayor Leonard Riley gave an update on what’s been going on in Valley.

Crutchfield, husband C.J., Todd Allen, and Jake Key are officers in a 501(c)3 nonprofit known as The Valley Local. ValleyFest is their first major event. It will be taking place at Valley Sportsplex from noon till 10 p.m., weather permitting, on Saturday, March 23.  If it rains, everything could be held on Sunday instead. Right now, Saturday’s forecast is promising.

The Valley Local, said Crutchfield, has a mission to help bridge the gap between small businesses and local consumers, building a pillar our community can rely on. “The focus of this organization is to help bring family fun, togetherness and empowerment within the hearts of local residents while also helping spotlight the need for support and awareness around our small communities, local businesses and other nonprofits in the Valley area, where it’s needed the most,” she said.

Email newsletter signup

There will be a modest cost of $5 to park and $5 to be admitted to ValleyFest. All proceeds will be going to such organizations at the Chattahoochee Humane Society, the Chambers County Circle of Care and civic organizations.

Live performances will be taking place at the Sportsplex Amphitheatre for the first time in years, and a second stage will be there to be the setting for other performances. Entertainment will be provided by the Sally Brown Band, Jamin Ellis, The Grey, Marcus Frazier, Elizabeth Dewberry, Kristopher Dewberry, Junior Cardial, Marde Brooks and Far Beyond Reason. A gifted saxophone player who goes by Big Saxy will set up in the vendor area and will be playing during the afternoon. Valley native Tae Madden will take the stage at 4 p.m. for a family-friendly comedy show.

“We will have 64 small business vendors and 33 food trucks at ValleyFest,” Crutchfield said. “They will be located in the parking lot between Ram Stadium and the Sportsplex. Parking will be near the Community Center, the tennis courts, on the back side of the stadium and across Fairfax Bypass at the armory and Small Wonders Day Care. Shuttles will take people from where they park to the entertainment area.

“This event has been very well planned,” Crutchfield said.”We are excited about it and are looking forward to a day of family-friendly fun. We’re asking for people to come out, enjoy the day and show their support for having events like ValleyFest.”

Mayor Riley told members of the club that when he first became mayor in 2012 he knew that the city had much potential for growth as long as it was a player in what was going on. One way to do that was to purchase property off Exit 77 on I-85. The property owner controls what takes place on their land. In the last 10 years or so the city had purchased more than 1,900 acres off Fob James Drive and Fairfax Bypass. This makes the city the key player in what will be taking place in that area.

Riley said that 415 acres of that is located behind the former Lanier-Carter Mill site and was purchased from WestPoint Home. A 317-acre site known as the Burney property is on the north side of Fob James Drive, and another 386 acres are off Fairfax Bypass. The Camellia Crossing subdivision is being located there.

On Highway 29 across from Walmart a new Oil Express is going up. Some major construction will be taking place on the south end of the nearby Village Square Shopping Center. It’s a $15 million project that will bring some nationally-known stores to the area.

“I can’t tell you what they are right now,” said the mayor, “but I am sure everyone will be pleased with the announcement is made.”

The city’s Public Works Department spent more than 1,900 hours clearing the land the city purchased. This makes it ideal for redevelopment, and there’s a lot of interest out there right now to do that. The 1,900 acres under city control is the largest site ready for development just off I-85 between Atlanta and Montgomery and is controlled by one owner.

“We are not just going to give it away,” Riley said. “If I did, my daddy would come back to haunt me.”

The top priority for the mayor is to sell to companies that will bring good-paying jobs for people who are living here now or will be drawn here to work for good wages.

Riley rates John Soules Foods as a major success story for the local area. More than 500 people are working there now with many making $16 to $18 an hour. Skilled maintenance people can make anywhere from $23 to $40 an hour.

“Any any point in time they could have 18 trailers out there with frozen chicken on them,” he said. “I’m hoping they will build a freezer plant out there. There’s enough land for it.”

The Valley plant is widely recognized as one of the most technologically advanced chicken processing plants in the world. “No human hands ever touch the chicken,” Riley said. “It’s one of the most automated plants anywhere.”

Valley has a good chance to be the site for a company looking for a 300-acre site to locate. “They will be bringing good-paying jobs wherever they go,” Riley said. “We should know something this spring. A major retailer is interested in coming here as well. If they announce for us you will like what you hear.”

The sales tax being brought in by the city is growing at a steady rate. It was about $5 million a year when Riley became mayor and has almost doubled since then. More business and more people staying home to shop is a big factor in this.

Businesses on both sides of Exit 79 are feeling an impact from the construction going on there, but it should be over in a few weeks. When the work is finished, the bridge over the Interstate and entrance/exit ramps will be among the best in I-85 between Atlanta and Montgomery.

A resurfacing project on Highway 29 in Valley will be getting underway this spring. A new coating of asphalt will be going down from the Osanippa Creek bridge on Valley’s south side to an area near Chambley’s. “I don’t know why they are going to stop there, but it’s nice to have a good surface where we can get it,” Riley said.

An estimated $360,000 is going to be spent on upgrading the Shawmut airport site for public use. A dog park is going to be built there for people to take their pets.

“I have enjoyed being your mayor, and I want to continue to serve this city,” Riley said.