MADISON, Ala. - 2017 marked Madison Mayor Paul Finley's first full year in office in his second term leading Madison.
Mayor Finley returned to the office in August of 2016, winning re-election after taking a four-year term off and he's had plenty to do. "I think it`s been an exciting and somewhat challenging time for the city of Madison."
He`s confident about the city`s direction but knows growth brings challenges, from roads to schools to communication.
"The challenge is managing growth. That in turn our city, but this respective area has." The growth includes pressure on the school system, ranked very high nationally, but facing increasingly crowded schools.
"People have moved here because our school system is strong, they want to continue to make sure that it is. I think we've worked on that with the schools. We in turn now have a school growth impact committee, where we are using our citizens to help us understand what we need to do over the course of the next 10 to 15 to 20 years."
The mayor said he`s focused on business development and cites a new $27 million downtown development project as an example. "Economic development has been a key piece that we've made a difference in," said Finley." "You know, the Sealy Project that`s going to go in historic downtown Madison, you know doubles the size of our retail down there, adds livability that we haven`t had."
Madison also faced tragedy, with the killing of a resident and the arrests of two teens in the case who`d escaped the Three Springs treatment facility. Finley said a priority has been to bring in quality people to help manage complex problems. "When you have a situation then like Three Springs, which is so unfortunate, you have someone in place who you can count on to help you continue to work through tough situations with your community."
The city also hired a new police chief and fire chief. Finley is confident the city made the right decisions. "Our community feels safe, we want to keep it that way," he said. "And these guys, I know I go to sleep every night knowing - they got it - and in turn, I hope our community does too."
Madison residents will learn more about Mayor Finley's vision for the city in the new year and beyond in his upcoming State of the City Address, Connect 2018.
The gala event will be held on Friday, January 19, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Tickets are still available and can be purchased online here.
WHNT News 19 will also stream the address live on whnt.com starting at 7p.m. on January 19.