FLORENCE, Ala. - 2019 has been a busy year for the city of Florence and Mayor Steve Holt made that clear in his first State of the City Address Thursday evening. He says that Florence has invested in itself to build and maintain a high quality of life for many years, and the evidence shows.
The city has gone through great strides to become more environmentally friendly. Mercury vapor traffic lights have been replaced with LED lights, which use less power and save money. Upgrades the city's recycling center has allowed for better efficiency in handling the 7 million pounds of materials employees process each year. Because of advancements like these, TVA has recognized Florence as a Valley Sustainable Platinum Community. Huntsville is currently the only other platinum community in the state of Alabama.
The city has received national recognition thanks in part to events like Shoals Fest. Recent articles describing Florence as a travel destination can be found in The New York Times, Reader's Digest, and Forbes.
Quality of education is also garnering national attention. The University of North Alabama has its highest enrollment yet at more than 8,000 students this semester. Southern Living also recognized Florence as one of the best college towns.
Job growth is evident through new unemployment rates. From 2011, unemployment rates dropped from more than 10 percent to 2.7 percent.
The city has received a 50-year recognition award from the Alabama Department of Public Health for the fluoridation of its public water supply. ADEM has also continued to award the city for its efforts in treating the drinking water supply at higher standards than required by the EPA and ADEM.
Mayor Holt is excited about the progress the city has made and is hopeful for things to come. In 2020, he says the city will begin the renovation process for city offices like the Florence Police Department and Fire Department, both of which have buildings that are always in use and sustain wear and tear over time.