Madison Mayor Paul Finley talks about growth during his annual State of the City Address

MADISON, Ala. -- Madison Mayor Paul Finley delivered his annual State of the City Address Friday night at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Finley went over what the city accomplished in 2017 along with his vision for the future of Madison. The event also celebrated the connections between the City of Madison, regional governments, businesses and residents that help make Madison great.

"Madison, Alabama, the state of our city is strong and it continues to get stronger," he stated to an applauding crowd.

Mayor Finley said the city took strides in the past year to change its tone. He said the city's new police and fire chiefs, hired after national searches, are now in place and bettering their departments. He added that the city council is working together and even when they disagree, doing it respectfully.

Development is continuing as Town Madison begins to take shape with new residence areas proposed, said Finley, and other projects including a Sealy project downtown start to progress. Baseball could even be on the horizon as Madison works to find out through a feasibility study if the city can support a new stadium and a minor league team.

But there are things the city needs to overcome, too. Growth continues to be something the city must address.

"We have to get a handle on the growth that's coming," said Finley.

He said they are doing that by looking out for the school system, which is working on its own plan, and by taking proactive steps within the city through transportation studies and other measures to find out what needs to be improved and how it can be funded.

Finley said new schools may be needed to accommodate new students, and they may need state lawmakers' help to take certain steps. Superintendent Robby Parker will be presenting a plan soon, explained Finley, and the growth committee that has been established will take that and find a way to make it happen.

"We are making sure that we find the solutions that our citizens are looking for and making sure that from a growth standpoint-- that we aren't just standing still," said Finley. "We are not just hoping that it goes away. We are understanding proactively we need to make a difference. And we are."

But Madison must also tackle head-on, something more dire: the nationwide opioid crisis.

"We're not going to shy away from that. As a matter of fact, we are going to have a summit in March to talk about it with our community," the mayor explained.

Mayor Finley said as they do all this, the city has excellent partners ready to help. The people who filled the room during the speech will help him guide the city into its future.

He closed, "I could not be more proud to be Madison's mayor, and I can not be any more excited about the next year to come."

The evening also featured live music from Winslow Davis.  Special guest Cristina Lynn will performed the national anthem, while local high schools presented our Nation’s colors. John Malone, Market President at iHeartMedia, Tuscaloosa, was the  Emcee for the evening.

To see last year's State of the City Address, click here.