Major Development Plans in Fairfield’s Future

Mayor Ed May II and Jeremy Duckworth, Executive Director of the Fairfield Business Alliance gathered the local media and residents together in front of the vacant Walmart building on Nov. 29th to announce exciting plans for economic development on Aaron Aronov Dr. As much a 1,000,000 square feet of currently unoccupied space could be filled in the near future. Best Storage has already announced they will be moving into the old Kmart building and other businesses will “be announced in the near future,” said May.

 development2A job fair is planned in the next few weeks to begin hiring local workers for the development phase of the property. Representatives from the development company are in town and are negotiating with the Mayor, Duckworth, and city officials to make sure the venture is a beneficial to everyone involved. The mayor wants to make sure the development “involves local employment.”

Members of the city council were in attendance to show support. City Council President Eddie Penny spoke and said that, “the mayor and the city council are united and committed to working together for the citizens and the community.”

development3Mr. Duckworth added that the mayor and council are pro-free market and pro business. Plans are in the works to develop all the vacant properties and big box stores between the Flintridge building and the old Super Walmart.

 After several years of financial hardship, it looks like Fairfield is positioned to prosper again.

Fairfield’s New Mayor and Council Sworn In

Edward May II
Edward May II

Fairfield’s new mayor Edward May II and the new City Council President Eddie Penny were sworn in this past Monday afternoon, November 7, along with the other members of the City Council. The ceremony took place on the front steps of the Fairfield courthouse and was followed by a reception in the courthouse basement.

The Fairfield Preparatory High School Choir performed several musical selections at intervals throughout the evening.

Fairfield Preparatory High School Choir
Fairfield Preparatory High School Choir

Various members of the clergy and elected officials also spoke at the event, including a stirring prayer by Representative Rod Scott. All of the speakers, to some degree, delivered messages focused on optimism, fellowship, and faith. The new mayor and president also presented reflective speeches that touched on these topics.

Eddie Penny
Eddie Penny

President Eddie Penny spoke on the importance of cooperation between the mayor and the council.

Mayor Edward May II began his speech by coyly admitting that his campaign was “unfair,” later revealing that it was because God was on his side. He also thanked his wife, family, and peers. May’s father Ed May Senior is a former mayor of Bessemer and also participated in the ceremony.

 

 

Wyatt Still Contesting Election Results

Ed May II (left), Johnnie Wyatt (right)
Ed May II (left), Johnnie Wyatt (right)

Edward May II will be sworn in this afternoon as Mayor of Fairfield along with the newly elected City Council members. However, May’s opponent Johnnie Wyatt continues to challenge May’s residency. Wyatt has a court date of January 2, 2017 to put the matter before Judge Verin. If May loses the case, he could be removed from office.

Foundations Early Learning and Family Center

School readiness programs like Foundations Early Learning and Family Center in Fairfield can give a child the start he or she needs as they prepare for school and beyond. In addition, the family support that they offer through their bi-monthly Parent Involvement meetings help to strengthen families as they face life’s challenges.

If you are a parent with a 4 year-old who turned 4 by September 1, 2016, call Foundations today to enroll your child!

Phone: 205-588-5454

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/foundationselfc

“During the first three years of life, children rapidly develop foundational capabilities – cognitive, social and emotional – on which subsequent development builds. These years are even more important for infants and toddlers living in poverty.” – Zero to Three Policy Center
  • Foundations Early Learning & Family Center provides a Christian environment in which to develop children academically, physically, socially and spiritually. We partner with families and equip them to prepare their children for school by combining the best-known practices in early childhood education with the love, grace, salvation and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Economic Development from the Inside Out

By David Hornbuckle

j-johns251Last week, on October 18, the Black Belt Community Foundation honored Protective Life CEO Johnny Johns as the 2016 Black Belt Legacy Award recipient for his years of dedication to philanthropic work. According to a recent editorial by the Foundation’s president Felicia Lucky, the organization’s mission is to improve “education, economic development, health and wellness, and arts and culture” in twelve impoverished rural counties that comprise Alabama’s Black Belt. The event at Birmingham’s Harbert Center included displays of arts and crafts from the Black Belt region. Members the most renowned artisans from that area, the Gee’s Bend Quilting Collective, were among those on hand, and they even did a moving performance of gospel music while dinner was being served.

We had a chance to sit down with Johns before the event got underway, during which we got a preview of some aspects of the speech he made later in the evening. The theme of his talk was the importance of revitalization that comes from the people themselves, not from outsiders. As outsiders from the metropolitan areas, we can provide resources, but it has to be up to the people in the region to make use of those resources in the best way they can. “They have to own it themselves,” Johns said.

Johns took many aspects of this message from a 2014 book by John Hope Bryant titled How the Poor Can Save Capitalism. Bryant, who is the founder of the nonprofit Operation Hope, says that we should not look at the poor as a drag on society or a number in the debit column. Instead, we should see them as one of our greatest assets. If we give poor communities the right tools, policies, and inspiration, he argues, they will be able to lift themselves up into the middle class and become a new generation of customers and entrepreneurs.

The message of Bryant’s book and of Johns’ lecture are both aligned with the motto of the Black Belt Community Foundation: “Taking what we have to make what we need.”

Those of us working in blighted urban areas in and around the Birmingham metropolitan area should take note of this message as well. Although the urban poor and rural poor face different types of challenges, there is an overlap in the kinds of strategies that we can employ in both situations.

We also know that well-meaning outsiders don’t always have a good understanding of what the communities actually need. That is why we have said repeatedly that cities like Fairfield must take charge of their own destiny. Having a new mayor and several new council members is a start, but ordinary citizens also have to do their part and invest in their own communities with whatever resources they have available.

For more information about the Black Belt Community Foundation, go to their website: http://blackbeltfound.org/

Fairfield Woman Co-Author’s a New Book

charita-200x300Charita H. Cadenhead had a realization one day that she thinks of the word “hope” almost every day, sometimes several times a day. She began to wonder if it was a common experience for people to have a single word that meant as much to them as “hope” meant to her. The idea for a book was born. She reached out on Facebook for possible co-authors and received responses from people she didn’t even know, people all over the country.

The books is called 1 Word: Discover, Reflect, and Connect with Words That Can Transform Your Life. Thirteen co-authors contributed essays on the words that were most meaningful to them, writing about words such as curves, home, destiny, stillness, and trust. Books are available for pre-sale now and will be available in bookstores after the official release on November 12.

There will be a release party for the book on Saturday, November 12, at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Hoover from noon-4:00. Four of the authors will speak at the event, and several others will be on hand to sign books. Tickets for the event cost $20 and can be purchased from the book’s website: 1wordbook.com.

Cadenhead is a mother of one and grandmother of two. She currently serves as the President of the Forest Hills Neighborhood Association in Fairfield. In addition, she is the host of the Renew Refresh Reset Your Life TV podcast on Firetalk where she interviews people that have made significant changes in their lives. Her other publishing credits include Sell Your House Fast for the Right Price and I Am Woman: 21 Triumphant Women Sharing Their Journey to Embracing Truth and Their Authentic Self.

100BLACKMENDEEP Group Hopes to Inspire Unity

By George Evans (photos courtesy of the 100BlackMenDeepWalk Facebook Page)

100blackmendeep_5If you live in Fairfield, chances are you heard something about the “100BLACKMENDEEP” walk that happened on September 4th. As part of the event, citizens from Fairfield and Ensley marched from the Fairfield High School to Willie Mays Park while chanting “Black power, Black unity” and “Black love.” The commotion might have woken you up. If so, that’s ok—that was kind of the point.

100blackmendeep_4According to Indeya Assatta (a two-time organizer of such events) the protest was supposed to “wake up the hood” both physically and morally. In Fairfield, this took the form of a march. Water was provided to keep protesters hydrated, and cars were used to protect the walkers from traffic. All of this was done without any kind of outside funding. “This is a real grassroots effort,” said Indeya. “We are paying for all of this stuff out of pocket, and these people have given up their Sunday mornings to come out and make a difference.” By “making a difference” Indeya meant canvassing houses, knocking on doors, and bringing people out into the streets in a show of solidarity.

100blackmendeep_2Was this effective? It should be said that the protest refused to succumb to the disease of so many modern protests—it didn’t get stuck in bring-awareness- molasses: the phase where a whole lot gets talked about and a whole lot of nothing gets done.  Instead, feel-good symbols were followed by serious consideration and thought. “After each walk there is a town-hall meeting” said Assatta, “in which the community is divided into over eleven committees, each focused on a different issue. The idea is that these committees will continue to work for change long after the march has finished.” Ultimately it would seem that “100BLACKMENDEEP” events are all about communal solidarity. Assatta intimated as much when she said “We want to deal with local problems locally, from within the community.”

100blackmendeep_6By now, you are probably wondering about the name. Why 100BLACKMANDEEP? According to Dejuan Hall (the movement’s main Facebook activist) the events are designed to “bridge the gap between the youth and elders” of Fairfield. One look at the crowd proved that they had, on however small a scale, accomplished just that. Of the two hundred or so protestors, citizens of every age and gender were present. Clint Walker, a resident and first time participant, acted as a sort of icon for this age disparity, showing up with his young son. When asked why the event was important, he stated “My son is out here with me today. He is nine years old. I need to let him see that there’s more to life than video games and hanging out with friends.” This sentiment was shared by Dejuan Hall, who said “We need to start with black men. We need to be leaders in our community. We have to set an example for the kids. If they can’t look to us, then who can they look to?”

Though they had a lofty goal it would seem that the protesters had very realistic expectations for the event. Mr. Walker summed up this realism by asking, “What is going to happen after today?” He spoke his biggest concern in the form of a question: “Is today a photo-op, or a true opportunity to change and build something?” A tough question indeed.

100blackmendeep_7A cynical reader might balk. After all, it is true that the Fairfield event is over. The protestors have gone back to their houses. The resounding call and response of megaphone and black voices has died. The asphalt streets are once again barren.

But the movement has just begun.

The group is now performing a “west side tour” of similar events. They also now hold town-hall meetings at 6:30 on Tuesday nights in the Mosque #69 on Tuscaloosa Avenue. If you are interested in joining the group call Dejuan at 205-460-6435, or follow the group on Facebook at #100BLACKMENDEEPWALK.