Calera Mayor Jon Graham talks futures at Joy Makers meeting

Calera Mayor Jon Graham fielded questions about traffic lights, speed zones and electricity bills and spoke about his city’s growth and plans for the future at a Joy Makers meeting at Concord Baptist Church on July 8.

Joy Makers is a ministry of Concord Baptist Church that meets monthly for food and fellowship including a speaker, and often helps the community by singing at nursing homes and sending DVDs of church services to bed-ridden church members.

“It’s always good to have city leaders here to communicate,” said Kyle Ziglar, minister of music and education.

Graham spoke about issues in the city ranging from general ideas to specific areas including road work and finance.

“The city is in good shape right now, financially,” Graham said to the room full of senior citizens. “We’re the fastest growing city in the state.”

With a growth rate percentage in the triple digits since the 2000 census, Graham said most Calera residents feel they have something to be proud of.

Graham said the City of Calera has issued 112 new building permits through May, and 10 in the month of May. Some Shelby County cities only issued one, or none at all.

“Our predecessors laid the groundwork for this to be a densely populated city,” he said. “But with that comes great responsibility.”

Graham emphasized the importance of proper planning for infrastructure, mentioning a long-discussed bridge he wants built over Ala. 31 and I-65.

“That bridge is a major artery that is clogged,” Graham said, adding that the Alabama Department of Transportation has assigned a project number to the construction of the bridge. He said he doesn’t anticipate construction to begin for the next two years.

Desire to remain approachable was another of Graham’s main focuses of the meeting. He brought a hand-written note from a 9-year-old boy who asked him to tear down the Hardee’s in favor of a Golden Corral or Ruby Tuesday’s.

“You can pick what it is; we just need something,” the note said. Graham said he plans to sit down with the child and tell him how important it is to continue to contact public officials.

“If you see me in Wal-Mart or Publix, stop me and tell me your name,” he said. “I want to be approachable.”

Graham ended the meeting by encouraging the Joy Makers to write their concerns and send them to his office, whether they deal with public services, traffic lights, or even shopping, which he recommended locals to do 85 percent of in Calera.

“I know you might not be able to get everything you need here, but we’re working on it,” he said, citing talks with Walgreen’s, Applebee’s and Sonic to discuss their franchising in the city.

“It’s my intent to bring all we can to you, the citizen,” Graham said.