Walker County Communities Work to Improve Quality of Life
PHOTO CREDIT: Wes Frazer Photography
Walker County, Alabama, prides itself on offering citizens a strong sense of togetherness, allowing individuals to truly feel a sense of community.
Cordova and Bo Bikes Bama
In April 2011, two tornados hit Cordova, Alabama. Four people died, homes were destroyed and the Central Business District was wiped out. Two years later, the town is working to rebuild itself and turn its declining economy around.
“It awakened a city that had been in economic decline for six decades and provided us a vision to improve upon what we had," says Cordova Mayor Drew Gilbert.
By redesigning the city layout and taking advantage of nearby railways and an interstate, Gilbert wants to transform Cordova's downtown into a safe, walkable environment and form a sense of community for the town.
In an effort to raise money for the governor’s emergency relief fund, Alabama native Bo Jackson created Bo Bikes Bama. The annual event started in 2012 and is a one-day group ride through the tornado-affected areas in Alabama. Cordova has benefited from this event by receiving funds from local nonprofits connected with the governor’s emergency relief fund.
The George Lindsey Dream Field and A.P.E.X. Playground
Jasper City Council Representative Jennifer Smith wanted to create a place for children with disabilities to play without restrictions. Thus the George Lindsey Play Field and the A.P.E.X. Playground were created. With one of the highest disability rates in the state, Walker County knew it needed to offer future generations the experience of playing without constraints.
Both the field and playground feature safety measures for children with disabilities to play on a team or playground, many for the very first time.
“I’ve witnessed individuals receiving their first team jersey, trophy, home run. The smiles on their faces are unforgettable, as are the ones on that dad’s face seeing his son ‘run’ the bases for the first time or that mom seeing her daughter wheel up the ramp of the playground,” Smith says.
Jasper has learned the importance of community. The citizens have changed with each person who helps with the Dream Team or gets involved with the playground. The chance to see children with and without disabilities playing side-by-side has been eye-opening for the entire town and has formed a sense of community pride.
Youth Leadership Walker County
Youth Leadership Walker County offers 40 local high school juniors a chance to get involved with community leadership. The students meet once a month and learn how leaders make a difference in their community. In addition, the students travel to Montgomery to receive firsthand experience on state legislature operations.
“The Chamber of Commerce of Walker County, Bevill State Community College, and the Walker Area Community Foundation are dedicated to education and will continue to develop programs that support our communities' students, educators and schools. Youth Leadership Walker County is one more way in which the chamber, educational institutions and the area foundation are working together,” says Linda Lewis, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County.
With strong support from local leadership, it’s no wonder that Walker County prides itself on a sense of community for citizens.