It appears that the fast food gods have finally smiled upon Huntsville, and we’ll get our long-awaited Taco Bell after all.
Perhaps it’ll be the shot in the arm that the Highway 412 Bypass needs, and that other companies – chains or otherwise – will follow suit and see Huntsville as a destination, and deem it worthy of the growth that has helped all our neighbors. Maybe it won’t, but at least we’ll have a nice drive-thru to hit up after our long election nights.
The announcement – while long-wanted by myself and countless others in the county – somehow was the least important sign of change (or lack thereof, pending the school election results that we’re waiting on as I type this) in the county.
First and foremost, our county government will lose two of its biggest leaders in Circuit Clerk Phyllis Villines and County Clerk Faron Ledbetter. Both have operated their respective offices exceptionally well under budget shortfalls and staff cuts, and, hopefully, with the quorum court’s much-needed vote on Monday to move the county toward vote centers, the county is poised for a bit better financial stability moving forward.
I don’t know as of my writing this if the Huntsville School District’s millage vote will fail or pass. We’ve got a long night ahead at the county courthouse and will be shipping the paper to the printer almost immediately after the final votes are read, but I’m still hopeful that we’ll get to run the headline that voters approved it. It, along with the move to vote centers and the new restaurant coming to the bypass, could usher in a new era for Huntsville: one where people are moving here for school and jobs rather than heading westward. It’s been a slow build since the city annexed its land along the bypass six or so years ago, and that change could be happening all at once is a little daunting, but the possibilities of what Huntsville could be are exciting.
If the vote goes the other way, and the front page headline reads that voters have again rejected the district’s request for more funds, then the responsibility to keep our area alive and growing falls on the shoulders of our city and county officials. The district is unlikely to seek another millage increase anytime soon. As our county officials who have sought a tax increase for jail upgrades can tell you, at some point you just have to move on. That means that our city government has to capitalize on the momentum in Taco Bell’s decision to locate here, and market our small strip to other investors, while our county has to look at ways to increase our tax base so we can get those much-needed upgrades.
Right now, our outlook is bright and full of possibilities, and I hope our front page this week is indicative of even more. Regardless, I hope our elected officials, our city, state and county government employees and our local community members and residents are ready to roll their sleeves up and break ground on this new era.