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Next mayor has big shoes to fill

Thursday’s State of the City Address was an emotional time for everyone in attendance, as Mayor Dwight Tankersley announced that he will not seek another term as Mayor of Hartselle.

Unfortunately, I’ve only been here for 15 months of his seven-plus years in office, but it’s been a pleasure working with Mayor Tankersley during that time. One interesting thing that has happened over the last year has been the replacement of the city’s swimming pool.

It’s been interesting to see how Dwight has handled this issue. Because the city pool typically doesn’t bring in enough money to pay for its expenses, the city’s general fund has had to subsidize that important program.

So one councilman asked the mayor to see what it would take to have a facility that could pay for itself. Through that discussion, Tankersley came up with the idea of having lifestyle center with an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, area for a health club and other meeting and party areas.

He looked at several cities our size and tried to see what could be done. Ultimately, his proposal had a price tag that was much higher than the city could afford.

But in the end, the city might not be building a new pool under construction now if it wasn’t for the discussion of a lifestyle center. The city could have also just replaced its existing pool instead of thinking outside of the box to include some other waterpark amenities that could attract more people to the pool during the year.

It’s still yet to be seen whether the pool can get closer to paying for itself, but one thing is for sure – the city could not afford to do nothing. By having the discussion on the lifestyle center, it made the city start thinking about what it would want in a new pool. And because of the preparation that Dwight, park and recreation director Frank Miller and other city leaders put into the lifestyle center, the city could then move forward with building a new pool much faster than starting from scratch.

It’s that preparation that has helped Dwight be a successful mayor over the last seven years. Not everyone agreed with everything that’s happened during this time, but I believe the city is in good shape today and for the future.

From reviewing Hartselle’s history, this city has had a record of good leadership in the mayor’s office. Each has helped Hartselle move forward while not changing the things that people hold dear here in the city. The next mayor will definitely have big shoes to fill.

Brent Maze is the managing editor of the Hartselle Enquirer.