By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
2019 has been Collin Daly’s first full year in office, having been sworn in by Judge Charles Woodruff at the Limestone County Courthouse Annex in November of 2018. Chairman Daly is quick to say that he is not a politician, he is a public servant, and it’s important to him that Limestone County residents know that his intention when he put his hand on the Bible was and still is to serve everyone. “Regardless of your background, my job is to serve you.” “And”, he added, “What’s best for Limestone County should not be based on partisan politics.
Many people think that the County Commissioners are “the road guys,” and while that’s true, they do so much more. Collin enjoys working closely with the City of Athens, surrounding communities, as well as the State of Alabama, and has a personal desire to see to it that Limestone County is the best county in the State. “We are growing so fast, and we need to grow well,” he said. After work, when Collin hits the hay each night, he always asks himself, “Was this the best decision?” He then emphasized, “The best decision” means what is best for the citizens of Limestone County. One of the things about which Collin Daly is the most thankful is the fact that he has met so many people and made friends that he expects will still be friends long after he leaves office. He also told me, “This job has made me appreciate my family more than ever. I don’t take anything or anyone for granted, and because I don’t get to see them as much as I used to, our family time together means so much more.” He then added, “I especially want to thank my wife and kids for their support this year.”
It is the practice of most local leaders to make sure that they get some time to think and pray, and for Commissioner Daly, it’s when he’s out and about on the roads of Limestone County in his truck. That’s when he thinks things through, comes up with ideas to solve problems, and get creative. Collin comes from a family that taught him that public service is their calling in life, no matter whether or not they have a title. His dad, Gary Daly served in law enforcement, and was Limestone County Commissioner as well. Because Collin has never had a desire to be a career politician, he told me, “In three years I will have a job evaluation, not an election, and if people think I did a good job, they’ll re-hire me. It has been my honor to be a public servant, no matter what they decide.”
Collin wanted to make sure that people participate in the upcoming US Census. “For each person in the State of Alabama, the federal government gives $1600 for all kinds of programs, including roads, and that is divided up statewide. That can make a big difference for the nearly 100,000 residents we now have. We could also lose a seat in Congress (in D.C.) if everyone isn’t counted,” he said. He mentioned that part-time census workers can make between $16-18 an hour, and he hopes that everyone who needs extra work will be a part of that process so that the census is as accurate as possible. You can get information on how to be a census worker at the utilities offices and the Athens-Limestone Library.
I asked Chairman Daly about some of the best things that happened in 2019. “The first is the Hazardous Waste Pick-up program, which is still being worked on and will happen in 2020. The city and county came together to find common ground for that project. The second is that the Veterans Museum is going to take over the County Event Center, and that’s going to be good for everyone,” he said. He also mentioned that the County is hoping that another, larger venue will be found that can be used as we grow. He also hopes that as major businesses come into our area that hotels will be built that will include large-sized meeting rooms as part of their facilities.
“The place that is going to grow a lot is the Huntsville-Brownsferry exit off of I-65. It’s going to become the new 65 and 72,” Collin said. He also mentioned that some of the newly-hired Toyota leadership team is already working, getting training in Japan. “We are getting a grant for the Farmers’ Market to upgrade the existing facility, we have a bunch of road-improvement projects, and are looking at several new revenue streams,” he said. One of the things that he is relieved to see reclaimed is the old L & S property on North Jefferson. “We are going to make sure it’s level, put a new shed there, landscape it, and improve that whole area. It’s going to be the County shop for equipment,” he said. Another big concern of Collin’s is traffic. I asked him, “If you were the center of the universe, money was no issue, and you could do anything for this county, what would you do?” He said, “I would take Elm Street and make it into something like Memorial Parkway, with two levels. I would make a loop around Athens with lots of exits, and have the loop connect with all the major roads and Greenbrier Parkway,” he said. He spent a lot of time talking about what is on the minds of all the local leaders these days: “How do we grow well? How do we keep our small-town Southern charm, our values, but still handle growth? We need to be proactive, not reactive.” Again, I asked him what he would do to help that be the case if he could, and he said, “Come up with a 20-year master plan that involves all the small surrounding communities, and have a full-time planner.” Before we finished up, he asked me to please make sure that the county crew knows how much they are appreciated for all their hard work this past year, and that he’s looking forward to 2020. “Happy New Year,” he told me, and then he had to head to West Limestone for his last appointment of the decade.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner