County manager, AWC give presentation at chamber luncheon

COLUMBIANA – Members of the local business community met at the First Baptist Church of Columbiana for the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon on Thursday, March 1. The luncheon featured a presentation from Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock and Scottie Jackson and Lauren Muncher of the Alabama Wildlife Center.

Dudchock began the presentation by giving updates on a variety of areas in the county.

“As you know, the most important thing we have going on in our county is our human capital, both our private citizens, business owners, employees of big industries, along with the very talented county commission that we have,” Dudchock said.

Dudchock said Shelby County’s asset values for property, property tax collection, sales tax, consumer confidence and purchasing and the activities of residents and those who travel through the county continue to be strong.

Dudchock also addressed the importance of building strategic partnerships with social services.

“We have 18 social service agencies that are currently receiving contract funding from the county, some of which are directly in health and community services. Some are not, but they’re part of the assessment, along with resident surveys,” Dudchock said. “This is what is telling us what’s happened in the last 16 years and what’s forecasted going forward.”

According to Dudchock, this is the first time that the AWC has given an educational presentation at any local chamber of commerce event in the county.

During the AWC presentation, the audience was able to meet five different species of raptor birds, including three types of owls, one hawk and one kestrel, that are regularly featured in AWF’s educational programs.

According to AWF Director of Education and Outreach Scottie Jackson and Education Program Coordinator Lauren Muncher, each bird was admitted to the organization after suffering through accidents that left them unable to live in the wild.

“We have some really cool coworkers at the Alabama Wildlife Center, and I’m not just talking about Lauren. She’s fabulous, as well, but these other co-workers are of the feathered variety,” Jackson said. “All of these guys are teachers of the Alabama Wildlife Center, and we’re so excited to bring them to you today.”

Members of the audience were able to get a closer look at each bird as Muncher carried them around the room.

The presentation was concluded with the announcement of a new bird, a bald eagle, that was recently brought to AWF, along with a new habitat that was built for her.

“We have been working on bringing this beautiful girl to our wildlife center for over a year. Our partnership with Shelby County has really made it possible. She has arrived at the wildlife center. She has no glove training, and she’s less than a year old, so we’re getting that process done before we can move her into her beautiful, permanent new home,” AWC Executive Director Doug Adair said.

The luncheon was sponsored by Bryant Bank and Carr and Associates Engineers, Inc. Catering was provided by Cake Art of Pelham.