Vincent mayor says growth a primary concern

Published 1:34 pm Monday, October 27, 2008

When Ray McAllister, Vincent’s newest mayor, looks at his town, he sees a place full of opportunities and possibilities — but only if the town’s leaders are smart.

“Vincent is going to grow. There’s no way to keep Vincent from growing,” McAllister said. “We need to be smart enough to encourage growth, not just let it happen.”

McAllister said he’s the man to get the job done because he can devote as much time as Vincent needs.

“I felt like I’ve got the time to devote to the mayor’s office. I’m retired. I’m going to be a full-time mayor,” he said. “I’ll be here if people want to see me.”

He definitely wants to see them. McAllister identifies himself as a people person who’s looking forward to hearing citizens’ ideas about Vincent.

“I’m not an office person. I don’t stay in an office. I’m a people person,” he said.

McAllister, who is originally from Mobile, moved to Vincent in 2001 to help develop the Birmingham market for Big Ten Tires. He worked in banking for 16 years and then with Big Ten for 30 years before retiring in 2007.

His wife, Evelyn, is originally from Vincent, and his two daughters, Huntleigh and Lisa, live close by with their families.

Once he got to Vincent, he understood the importance of keeping it a small town while also encouraging expansion. Growth takes money, however — something McAllister said he understands from his days in business.

“As small towns go, revenue is a prime concern. We want to bring in business,” he said. “Naturally, we want to increase and grow. We want to see our downtown be able to prosper and become what it was at one time.”

McAllister plans to work with the industrial development board to look at prospective businesses that could come to Vincent, hopefully bringing jobs for residents. He said he’d like to see an employer bring 200 jobs to the area.

Improving the Vincent Fire Department is another of McAllister’s priorities. He plans to work on some grants to bring money into the fire department, especially to get new fire trucks.

“Our newest fire truck is 20 years old,” he said. “The best way to improve that is through grants, because $200,000 is hard for a small town to come up with.”

McAllister said soon after he’s sworn in Nov. 3, he plans to sit down with his department heads to find out more about their jobs, their needs and how they can work together to improve their town.

Eventually, McAllister wants Vincent to be well-known — and not just in Shelby County.

“We want the people from the county level, to the state level, to the federal level to know Vincent exists,” he said.