Don't you just love this time of the year? I love the cool weather, the holiday season, and the opportunity to share our blessings with others. I want everyone in "Home Sweet Huntsville" to stop, take a deep breath, look around at our city and say thank you to God for the blessings He has bestowed on us, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Good news is that it looks like we have a vaccine that will be available soon to protect us from this virus. Our city continues to experience substantial growth and our sales tax receipts continue to surpass our expectations. Our water and sewer renovations as part of our bond proposals are nearly complete and have come in under budget. I hope everyone has had a chance to see the progress of our new police and fire facilities, and this part of our bond proposal is progressing very well. The city has received the initial report from our architect on the City Hall renovations and the new service center. We are making good progress.

City staffing has added a new deputy city secretary, Ashley Newsome. I encourage all our citizens to take time to meet Ms. Newsome and encourage her in this position. Also, the city has posted a job for a deputy city manager and we hope to fill this position in the near future. Our city is growing, and these positions are vital to help spread the load and stress as well as provide an orderly transition to maintain our professional staff requirements.

The elections are basically over, pending any legal challenges, and I, for one, am ready to move forward with whatever ending result is the conclusion. I want to welcome Vicki McKenzie, Pat Graham and Bert Lyle as newly elected city council members and Dee Howard Mullins on her re-election. I look forward to sharing our goals and aspirations for our city with them. I also want to thank Clyde Loll and Mari Montgomery for their service to our city. I am excited about what we are accomplishing for our citizens and can't wait to see what God has in store in our future.

I recently attended a ribbon-cutting for the new Rockbridge subdivision near Highway 30 and was amazed at the progress being made by the DR Horton group of developers. Over 50 homes are under construction in this new subdivision of 250 lots. Additional subdivisions are also being developed in our city. The new housing project on American Legion drive is also nearing completion. Our economic development group has additional inquiries in the beginning process. All this to say, "hold on", Huntsville is on the move. Our citizens must realize that all this new growth will increase our tax base and help us keep our tax rate low as compared to many of our neighboring cities.

Our city is currently involved in updating our comprehensive plan for our future. I ask our citizens to please make every effort to attend one of the public meetings to offer your input into this plan which looks into our five, 10 and 20-year future. We need your comments. The survey is on our website under Huntsville 2040. Give us your input.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to all our citizens and remember to share your blessings with those less fortunate. Be safe, enjoy friends and family, and thank God for his watchful care of our city.

Andy Brauninger is the mayor for the city of Huntsville. 

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