Job creation, budget transformation main themes of Limestone State of the County address

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - For the 2017 State of the County address, Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough talked about being better than good.

"When we took office, 27 months ago, we were facing a $2.4 million deficit, and that's per year; not only is that unacceptable, it's unsustainable. It won't work," said Yarbrough.

In that short time, he says they cut more than 90 percent of that deficit, with current numbers showing the deficit at $150,000. He says they can now focus on rebuilding reserves.

He spent a good bit of time talking about the hundreds of jobs brought about the Polaris plant, as well as hundreds more on the way thanks to Shape Corporation and GE Aviation.

"Since we've taken office, the last 27 months, we've had over $400 million of investment into Limestone County," he said.

Something he was particularly proud of was a recent class of graduates of the county's drug court program. He acknowledged Sheriff Mike Blakely in the crowd, and the work his office does to keep the county safe.

He says he and Blakely discuss inmate health and safety, and that the drug court is a bright spot, especially with the recent grads.

"There are 13 individuals that bought into the program," Yarbrough began. "It's a brutal program, the consequences are very dire if you don't get through it. They graduated and are productive members of our society now."

He also mentioned the courthouse, that he was happy to proclaim was finally finished. He said people have mentioned that they cannot "see" the millions of dollars that went into it.

"Basically we built the steel superstructure inside there," he explained. "You can't see it. I’m sorry, you cant see it. She’s a grand old lady, deserved to be preserved, deserved to be restored and we did it. It's good for another 100 years, it’ll be there."

He talked about how proud he is of Dr. Tom Sisk of Limestone County Schools and Dr. Trey Holladay of Athens City Schools.

Sisk recently added a $3 million expansion to the Limestone County Community Technical College, the best in the state. Meanwhile Holladay, with the help of Mayor Ronnie Marks, worked to get dirt moving on the $55 million new Athens High under construction.

He says in 2016 they put a new senior center in Ardmore and are looking for a location for a similar facility in Elkmont.

According to Yarbrough, 2016 brought a spike in new Limestone County residents, and set a record for the most homes bought in the county.

Chairman Yarbrough says he's happy where the county is, but is far from satisfied.