Spotlight on Pike, Barbour & Bullock: Community Development

Improvements to downtown areas, schools and parks are underway in these three counties

Old Creek Town on the shores of Lake Eufaula. Photo by Peter Pauley Photography.

Pike County

Pike County has been working for some time on a $45 million judicial complex that will house the courthouse, jail, emergency management, court and sheriff’s department, says McKenzie Wilson, county manager. The building should be ready in early 2023 and some departments are expected to move in this year.

“We have been needing to consolidate county offices and reduce the buildings we are renting,” she says. The former courthouse also is being renovated for probate offices, revenue offices and the county commission offices, she says.

The county also is in the middle of a Rebuild Alabama project with several roads being paved — the largest road project in the county’s history, Wilson says. The county has helped provide school resource officers in county schools, and the county also is working on a grant to purchase two ambulances for the city of Troy, which will add to the existing emergency services available in the county.

Pike County Schools believes preschool through 12th-grade educators are more than teachers; they are workforce developers — laying a firm foundation for continued education and meeting high-demand, high-wage careers of the 21st century, says Jeff McClure, administrative assistant to the superintendent.

STEM programs, dual enrollment options and partnerships with local industry provide many options for students.

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Through a partnership with Troy University and SkyWarrior flight training program, the First in Flight and Leadership Academy continues to produce pilots. During the 2021-22 school year, the school system produced three pilots, giving them a head start on their career plans.

Banks School also will move into a new facility for the 2022-23 school year, a $7.5 million investment.

In the city of Troy, plans are in progress to renovate the Historic Academy Street School, where the main building will be used as a community and cultural arts center, say city officials. The first phase is expected to cost more than $1 million. The project includes refurbishing classrooms and cafeteria, along with a separate building in future phases, according to Troy Mayor Jason Reeves. An amphitheater may also be added.

Troy has attracted new retail and commercial projects, including Fuse Coffee Shop; Good Times Bowling, which has a full bar and dine-in restaurant; Sips Beer Garden and Kiss My Axe, an axe throwing venue downtown, says Chase Cobb, executive director of the Pike County Economic Development Corp. The city also will be getting a new hotel, Home 2 Suites, he says.

Troy City Schools recently appointed Cynthia Thomas its new superintendent. She had served as interim superintendent since 2020 and has 24 years of professional experience in special education, school administration and system administration. The system’s career and technical education department is robust, with partnerships with industry. Some programs are offered at Troy-Pike Center for Technology, which serves students from the county and city school systems.

The city of Brundidge was awarded a recreational trail program grant to improve Ramage Park with a walking trail, and as soon as the funds have been released, the trail construction will begin, city officials say. The city also purchased two large playground systems for Galloway Park and Ramage Park. The city also is applying for a Community Development Block Grant to improve water and sewer lines on various city streets.

The city has had a few new businesses open downtown, and a new restaurant is expected. The city also hosts a popular Peanut Butter Festival in October.

Martin Theater in Eufaula. Photo by Peter Pauley Photography.

Barbour County

Barbour County has two courthouses, one in Clayton, the county seat, and the other in Eufaula.

The county commission plans to reapply for grant funding to build a new Clio Senior Center with the option to purchase land for the facility. Its county school system has three schools and offers career programs and JROTC.

Eufaula, a Main Street community, this year opened a new off-road vehicle course on the site of the park’s former golf course at Lakepoint State Park. The park on Lake Eufaula, known as “The Bass Capital of the World,” attracts thousands of visitors each year.

The city also announced that a former hotel downtown, Bluff City Inn, is being revamped into an 85-room Marriott Tribute boutique hotel, says Mayor Jack Tibbs. “It is a great way to utilize a historic property,” Tibbs says. “A lot of our historic buildings are already being repurposed.” Downtown will have a new brew pub and a new restaurant, along with two others that already have moved to downtown. The city also is getting a Starbucks.

The city has a popular splash pad and has added a playground there and other amenities. At Old Creek Town Park, the city is building an 18-hole disc golf course. The city has applied for grants to build pickleball courts, and a new housing development will be underway soon near the community center, which also is getting an overhaul, he says.

The city is also planning for a replacement hospital for Medical Center Barbour, Tibbs says.

Future plans include adding sidewalks around the middle and high schools and a walking trail. The city’s airport, Weeden Field, has been rebuilt after a tornado, but will apply for a grant to build a new terminal building, Tibbs says. The airport has a $1.6 million economic impact, according to an Alabama Department of Transportation study.

Eufaula City Schools offers several career technical programs in fields as diverse as agriculture, health care and business. A new athletic field house is planned for the Barbour County High School campus in Clayton.

Union Springs historic district.

Bullock County

New retail has a boost in Bullock County, where the Bullock County Development Authority recruits and provides a site preparation grant, says David Padgett, the authority’s director.

“Over the past two years, we have several new retail businesses open in the county,” he says. “One of our challenges as a rural community is availability of restaurants.” American Deli opened in the height of the pandemic, and a new gas and convenience store, Liberty Station, opened in July in Union Springs.

Bullock County schools has a successful career technical school that offers several programs for students.

The city of Union Springs sold its community/recreation building to Wayne Farms for its future expansion. The sale is effective in January 2023, city officials say. In turn, the city is planning a new community center, which will have classrooms, as well as an open area used for events and recreation. It also will host all citywide voting and city council meetings.

The city also has purchased an 8,000-square-foot building in the center of the city to expand city services and the police department. It is currently in the design stage.

This article appeared in the September 2022 issue of Business Alabama.

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