Mayors promote cities during luncheon

Mayors from across Shelby County came together Wednesday to talk about what their cities accomplished last year and what they have planned for 2009.

The Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Mayor State of the Cities Address. The Shelby County Reporter sponsored this year’s event.

The economy was a common topic for almost all the mayors.

“We are experiencing a little downturn, but we are paying our bills,” said Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven. “We are in the black.”

Westover Mayor Mark McLaughlin said most cities are belt-tightening.

“I know this is a challenging time for all of us,” said McLaughlin.

Even amid declining revenues, mayors still bragged about growth and new development.

“We’re still going to grow and double (population, as projections show),” said Indian Springs Mayor Steve Zerkis.

The mayors promoted new businesses, stores and restaurants and talked about improvements made in public safety and quality of life.

Calera Mayor Jon Graham addressed his status as mayor-in-waiting. Graham was elected mayor after a runoff in October, but he can’t take office until the U.S. Justice Department rules whether voting districts were unfair to minorities.

“I have confidence. I have patience that it will work out,” said Graham.

Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos also commented on the response he’s received since floating the idea, a few weeks ago, that all of Hoover should become part of Shelby County. Currently, about a third of Hoover is in Shelby County; the rest is in Jefferson County.

“Every letter, every phone call … all wanted us to go into Shelby County,” Petelos said.

There was also plenty of banter back-and-forth between the mayors. But the day’s best one-liner goes to Harpersville Councilwoman Janet Gill, who was filling in for Mayor Theoangelo Perkins.

“What a great place Harpersville is … we even have people jumping out of planes to get there,” she said, a reference to Indiana pilot Marcus Schrenker who tried to fake his own death last month by parachuting into the town.

The following mayors or representatives spoke: David Frings, Alabaster mayor; Janet Gill, Harpersville councilwoman; Willie Goldsmith, Montevallo councilman; Jon Graham, Calera mayor-elect; Allan Lowe, Columbiana mayor; Ray McAllister, Vincent mayor; Mark McLaughlin, Westover mayor; Don Murphy, Pelham mayor; Earl Niven, Chelsea mayor; Sonny Penhale, Helena mayor; Tony Petelos, Hoover mayor; and Steve Zerkis, Indian Springs mayor.