Amazon Breaks Ground Oct. 2, Laying Path for Western-Area Development

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Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight with county employee Chris Butts.
Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight with county employee Chris Butts.

Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr., BirminghamWatch

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By Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

The official groundbreaking on the new Amazon development in Bessemer will be Oct. 2, Jefferson County commissioners said Thursday.

“Amazon is a game-changer,” Commission President Jimmie Stephens said. “This is an economic development project that will happen probably once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky. It’s going to have probably 3,000 jobs and it’s going to have spinoffs that are going to come.

“It’s going to open up the western Jefferson County corridor to much more development and opportunity for our citizens,” Stephens said.

Amazon and other developments in western Jefferson County already are starting to have an effect. West Jefferson Mayor Charles Nix told the commission his town is ready to grow with a new garden home subdivision on more than 23 acres being annexed at 6700 Quinton Road.

“We don’t think there’s a better place than the town of West Jefferson to start that growth,” Nix said while asking for the property to be rezoned for the homes. Commissioners approved his request.

“We are making an effort to bring new families in and keep the attendance up in our school so it can stay open,” Nix said. “With the completion of I-22, we think it’s time for the western part of Jefferson County to grow.”

Budget With Money for Districts

Commissioners also passed the fiscal 2019 budget, a move Stephens said will improve the quality of life for citizens. The budget provides each commissioner with $250,000 in grants to go to their districts. Of that, $150,000 will be set aside for each commissioner to use on infrastructure and roads within his or her district. The remaining $100,000 would be earmarked for each to use on 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

“We have monies available for the first time in our tenure that we are able to apply directly to infrastructure, roads and transportation, and also for the school systems,” Stephens said. “It’s a great deal. It gives people a reason to live and to work in Jefferson County.”

Commissioners also went into executive session as they considered offering employment contracts to Korey Campbell to be deputy director of revenue and Derek Burr to be director of development services.

In a related matter, Zhaleh M. McCullers, director of development services, announced her retirement. Her last day to work for the county is Friday.

The commission also recognized Chris Butts for his role in helping a driver involved in a car accident. He was the first on the scene, called for help and then stepped in to assist.

“I felt like I wasn’t doing anything extra that I wouldn’t expect someone else to do for my family,” he said.

“God put you in that situation,” Commissioner Joe Knight said, “and you responded.”

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