Larger marina, municipal complex coming to Demopolis

By Mark Bullock - bio | email

DEMOPOLIS, AL (WSFA) - Demopolis is considered one of the few economic engines in west Alabama. And city leaders hope to grow that engine even further in 2009, despite a weakened economy.

WSFA 12 News visited Demopolis as part of our series of interviews with local mayors about their plans for 2009.

The quaint town near the Mississippi border started as a trading post in the early 1800's. It's close to where the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers meet.

Two centuries years later, Demopolis is still capitalizing on its waterfront. A project to expand the local marina is creating 350 new boat slips and attracting more tourists with a deeper channel.

A new north-south driving corridor could also attract visitors. It would connect north Alabama to the city of Mobile in the south. And Demopolis would be at its center.

"People from Kentucky and Tennessee and even Illinois could easily get down to Mobile and the beaches," explained Mayor Mike Grayson.

He says the roadway could also attract new businesses, including manufacturing plants that supply Mobile's new Thyssen Krupp steel plant.

Grayson says creating jobs is always a top priority, but it's gotten more difficult with the struggling economy.

"We do not plan on any layoffs and we don't plan on cutting any services. We're doing more with less," he said.

With that attitude, Demopolis has maintained top notch health care and education systems, expanded its fire department, and plans to the same with its police station.

"Times are tough, but we're going to be tougher, and we're going to make something happen," Grayson said.

The new police station will be part of a brand new municipal complex, which will also include the municipal court. Bids for the project go out January 20th.

And when the new facility is built, there will be a new police chief at its helm. The city council is interviewing the final four candidates and hopes to make an announcement at its January 22nd meeting.