By Adam Smith
The five members of Limestone County’s local legislative delegation gathered Monday morning to cut the ribbon on its new office in Suite E-4 at the College Street Center in Athens.
State Rep. Dan Williams, R-Athens, described the small, three-room office as “humble,” though he said it would be an “endeavor that would improve services between legislators and their constituents.”
The office will essentially be a point-of-contact between county residents and members of the legislative delegation — Williams, state Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison; state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur; state Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur; and state Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-Capshaw.
The office will be staffed by one employee, Huntsville native Anna Russell. As executive director, her job will be to coordinate meetings and relay messages and concerns to members of the delegation.
Holtzclaw said the office will serve an important purpose because Limestone County is one of the fastest-growing in the nation. He added that items for the office, including the furniture, computer and phone, were purchased in Athens.
The office is being leased to the delegation by Athens State University for $6,000 a year. Funding was made possible from TVA-in-lieu-of-tax funds.
Limestone County receives TVA funds, and then disburses those monies to the city and local agencies. A change in the law allowed the local legislative delegation — which also receives part of the TVA money — to spend a portion of it to create the local legislative office and to offer economic development grants.
Similar offices can also be found in Morgan and Madison counties. Orr said he was glad the Limestone office was open, because it would make it easier to meet with constituents.
“We usually have to find a board room or meet at a Cracker Barrel,” he said, adding that hearing the concerns of residents is difficult when there’s a lack of privacy. “I appreciate Dan (Williams) and Bill (Holtzclaw) for getting this going. This is a great day for Limestone.”
Williams said phone and Internet had not been installed at the office. The News Courier will publish the phone number for the office as soon as it becomes available.