‘May God continue to bless Morgan County’

State of the County address held in Decatur last week

By Rebekah Martin

Hartselle Enquirer

Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long presented the State of the County address last week at the Doubletree by Hilton in Decatur. Long, who is in his eighth year as chairman, spoke on the progress the county made last year and also the setbacks it experienced.

The rising costs of healthcare that impacted budgets for both county employees and Morgan County Jail inmates, along with the county not receiving $700,000 in expected rebates contributed to a budget deficit.

Despite the setbacks, Long said county employees and elected officials worked together and their efforts were successful. “As we began to see the trend wasn’t going in the right direction, we met with all department heads in April and asked them to examine their budgets and see if there was anything they could cut out or put off until later,” Long said. “We sent the same memo out to the elected officials. All of their effort plus a late increase of income in a few other areas helped us finish the year around $460,000 under budget.”

Long said 2017 was a “banner year” for industrial development in Morgan County.  Praising president of the Morgan County Economic Development Association Jeremy Nails, Long said the county had more than $535 million in capital investments and 436 new jobs announced by local industries. “This is great news for everyone seeking a job that lives in Morgan County – but it doesn’t end there,” Long said. “With the recent announcement of Toyota/Mazda bringing 4,000 new jobs to Huntsville and Limestone County, I am very confident there will be plenty of Morgan County residents working at that plant. Then there are the estimated 6000 supplier jobs. Yes, a lot of good job opportunities are coming for our people.”

Long, who was first elected in 2010, also spoke about far the county has come since then. “When I began my journey to be your chairman in January 2010, Morgan County’s unemployment rate was 12.7 percent. At the end of December 2017 it was 3.1 percent,” Long said. “I’m not going to stand here and say that it is all because me or the Morgan County Commission. The results that I have just spoken about are the results of everyone working together to bring jobs to our area. We have had to tear down boundary lines between cities and counties and face the reality that only by working together can we serve our people like they deserve. I am proud that Morgan County took a leadership role in tearing down these walls and bringing everyone together.”

Long took a moment to praise various department heads and his fellow commissioners who have worked together to move Morgan County forward in their respective roles.

I want to thank all of our department heads for the great job they do,” Long said. “I have said it many times, you have a great commission. These four guys work hard to make sure that Morgan County is a place you can be proud to call your home. It’s an honor to be a part of this commission and work with these guys.”

Long ended the address telling the audience that Morgan County is in good shape, thanking attendees for the opportunity to serve in his capacity. “We are working hard every day to make it better,” he said. “We all know that when everyone works together, and doesn’t care who gets the credit, Morgan County will only get better.”

 

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