Coffee and Conversation in Chelsea brings together new mayor and council with top officials

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Staff Writer

CHELSEA – Senator Slade Blackwell, R-Mountain Brook, hosted a Coffee and Conversation at Johnny Ray’s BBQ in Chelsea on Thursday, Oct. 6.

In attendance at the event were several local and state government officials, as well as the new mayor and council of Chelsea.

First up to speak was Corley Ellis, who is the likely replacement for the House of Representatives District 41 seat.

Ellis described how great the relationship between the state and local government was saying it takes being close like this to hold these events and have conversations about government in local communities.

“I’ve got one phone and when I get to Montgomery, I want people to call me and tell me what is going on,” he continued.

Secretary of State John Merrill stepped up next and went over each of the 14 proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“We have a plan, we continue to need the people’s assistance and support,” he said.

Merrill went on to say Amendment 14, which will preserve more than 600 laws, is extremely important locally.

“It will make laws from the past stay constitutional,” he said.

Next up was the man of the week, Tony Picklesimer, who stood up and talked to the people fresh off of his election victory on Tuesday, Oct. 4, which made him the new mayor of Chelsea.

Picklesimer introduced each member of the new City Council and showed his thanks to the officials from the state and county for coming to Chelsea.

“I just want to thank state and local officials for setting this up and showing that Chelsea is special enough for something like this,” he said. “I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to serve this city and all I can promise is honesty, an open door and integrity.”

Sheriff John Samaniego followed and addressed Picklesimer and the council telling them how excited he was to start working with the newly elected officials.

“I’ll be there for you guys,” he said. “Our office is here to serve each of the cities in Shelby County and we look forward to keeping our contract with the city of Chelsea and protecting them.”

Members of the Shelby County Commission were also in attendance, which included Commissioner Robbie Hayes, Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock and Shelby County Engineer Randy Cole.

Hayes also mentioned how excited he was to work with Picklesimer and the new council, but Dudchock and Cole went into specifics with each of their jobs.

Dudchock made sure to highlight Compact 2020 and how they are fighting substance abuse in Shelby county and said he has stayed in Shelby County for so long because initiatives like this are what make it such a unique and great place.

Cole touched on a couple of topics that were pertinent to residents of Chelsea in particular.

As the county engineer he deals with traffic and congestion problems and highlighted that they have plans in place to make the intersection of U.S. 280 and County Road 41, as well as the intersection of U.S. 280 and County Road 43, much safer.

When the topic of the intersection at County Road 47 and 39 came up, Cole took the opportunity to touch on that as well.

“We are doing a study right now on the intersection of 47 and 39 to determine how much state funding it deserves,” he said. “Mayor Niven and I have talked for years about how to finance and fix that situation so now this study will help determine how much federal aid should be given and how much we should pay locally.”

The last topic to come up was brought up by concerned citizen Connie Gilliland at the end during a question and answer segment.

Gilliland was concerned with the sewer system, which has been a major problem in Chelsea, saying it costs her and her husband $81 a month whereas in other surrounding cities it only costs around $35 a month.

She went on to say businesses are struggling because of it and it is also keeping other businesses out.

Senator Blackwell said he would be glad to push forward with an initiative to help solve that problem, and Commissioner Hayes also chimed in saying they will have to brainstorm new ideas on how to solve the problem because what they have been doing hasn’t worked.

It was the first time the new members of the Chelsea City Council were all together with their new mayor and in front of several important people. It’s a step that many Chelsea residents will most likely be happy to see.