Mayor highlights progress at town hall meeting

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

During the most recent Brantley Town Hall meeting held Oct. 10, Mayor Berney Sullivan took the floor to express his gratitude to the Town Council and highlighted some of their accomplishments while also providing updates on the town’s various municipal projects. The public meeting covered a range of topics, with one significant highlight being the forthcoming South Central Alabama Mental Health Crisis Diversion Center and the development of city-owned property into a light industrial park that will be located just north of the school on U.S. Highway 331.

“Once we get the access road installed at the light industrial park everyone can go to work getting this thing built,” Sullivan said. “Everything is kind of pending on the completion of the access road but once it is in place we have the green light to get busy.”

The next step in the process will be a Community Development Grant Bid (CDBG) pre-bid meeting on the sewage and water installation projects at the light industrial park. CDBG grantees receive federal funds that can be used to support public facilities and improvements projects that are integral to the quality of life and prosperity for community residents.

The center marks a significant milestone for the town as it will be the first rural crisis center in Alabama. The $7 million project is expected to be operational by 2025 and will be open 24/7 to serve the general public, law enforcement, and emergency management personnel to address mental health issues.

Regarding the light industrial park, Mayor Sullivan shared his hopes for a Family Dollar and Dollar Tree combo store, Diamond Fabrications (a full line fabrication and production company)  and a potential restaurant. Additionally, the prospect of building new townhouses and homesites in Brantley is being explored, promising further economic development. These projects, along with the opening of The Parlor, a restaurant set to be open in the old Southern Foods location, and the possible opening of a new grocery store have no official dates or timelines at the moment. However, Sullivan assured the attendees that progress is being made, and that the future looks promising for Brantley. 

Notable community events on the horizon include a prayer walk led by Pastor George Stringer on Oct. 21 and an outreach event for young people on the same day, the inaugural First Responders Trunk or Treat event on Oct. 30 at Turner Park in Luverne , Trick or Treating for Brantley residents will take place on Oct. 31, and Brantley High School’s homecoming on Nov. 3. 

Sullivan touched upon the upcoming Christmas festivities scheduled for Dec. 9 which will include a parade starting at noon, followed by a Christmas festival on Main Street. It was also made known that the Brantley Garden Club will sponsor a Christmas decorating and lighting contest, with judging scheduled for Dec. 16.

During the meeting, Councilperson Ashley Stewart and Councilperson Daryl Elliot highlighted the need for repainting the “Welcome to Brantley” signs, emphasizing the importance of creating an inviting entrance to the town, especially with the anticipated increase in visitors due to the mental health crisis diversion center and other ongoing developments.

Sullivan commended the council for their dedication and the transformative initiatives they have undertaken over the past several years. According to Sullivan, these efforts have resulted in various improvements, such as repairing town cemetery fences, street repairs, new lift stations, bridge reconstruction, the acquisition of the property, ongoing sewer and water system enhancements, and more. The relocation of the town council, senior center, and police to the Dow Sport Brantley Annex was also highlighted.

In his closing remarks, Mayor Sullivan emphasized the town’s commitment to maintaining its unique identity while accommodating growth and ongoing success. 

“We as a community don’t want to lose our identity or get large, but we have to keep our heart beating,” Sullivan said. “We have a lot of endeavors going on, and for a town of less than 1,000 people, we have achieved some remarkable things. The mental health crisis diversion center alone is a $7 million project that will create over 80 jobs and allow us to collaborate with the five county governments of Covington, Coffee, Butler, Escambia and Crenshaw. We have some great things that have been done and other things in the works to pass down to those that come after us to continue building upon.”