Local Government Colony Mayor Donnis Leeth talks hometown and new job | The Cullman Tribune

Local Government

Colony Mayor Donnis Leeth talks hometown and new job

Colony Mayor Donnis Leeth, right, with Colony Councilwoman Ethel Alexander, in July / W.C. Mann

COLONY - The town government of Colony has faced some challenges this year, but Mayor Donnis Leeth seems as upbeat as ever.  On Tuesday, The Tribune sat down with Leeth and Councilman Curtis Johnson to catch up on community events and plans, and to talk about the mayor’s latest professional achievement.

Cullman County Mayors and Commissioners Association

Last week, Leeth was elected by the Cullman County Mayors and Commissioners Association (MCA) to serve as its 2018 vice president, marking the first time that a Colony mayor or an African-American has held an officer’s post in the association.

“It means a lot,” said Leeth.  “It let me know that people in Cullman County, they’re changing.  If you be good to everyone, treat them like you want to be treated, they’ll treat you like you want to be treated.  So that’s what I try to do.

“That was a great honor to have that done, because it means a lot to me to be put in a position like that in Cullman County, because Cullman County is a unique place to stay.  You’ve got to meet people; you’ve got to get out and talk to people.  Then let them see you’re about doing something great for your town or your city.”

Leeth continued, “They had been mentioning to me about different things, like putting me on different boards.  I’m really one the first ones they had (from Colony) to go to everything, and go out of town to meetings, and they said I’m showing them that I want to develop Colony into something.

“Yeah, I want Colony to be on the map, with different things for the kids and the senior citizens.  I know it’s going to take a while to get that done, but in my four years I hope I have something accomplished for the Colony started, and whoever follows me if I don’t re-run, they can keep it going right and put Colony out there,” he smiled.

As vice president of the MCA, Leeth will be in charge of scheduling association meetings and notifying members of dates, letting members know what will be covered at meetings and working with the president to secure guest speakers for meetings.

Among the MCA’s first plans for the new year is a trip to Montgomery to meet with the area’s legislative delegation before the start of the new session on Jan. 9.

What’s happening in Colony

Colony’s town council has not held a meeting since October, when Councilwomen Jamelle Dimbo and Tam Malcom resigned their seats.  Town leaders have been quiet about what exactly happened, but friction had existed within the council since Councilwoman Myra Twitty retired in June.  In filling that vacancy, Dimbo and Malcom backed a candidate who lost to Ethel Alexander, who was backed by Leeth, Johnson and Councilman Julian Fields.

With two members gone, the remaining four (all of whom must be present to constitute a quorum) have struggled to get together for meetings.  In fact, the council has not yet voted to accept the resignations tendered by Dimbo and Malcom.

The town did not open its community center and game room this Christmas holiday like it was able to last year, but Leeth and Johnson remain optimistic about the coming year.  Among their current plans:

-Colony has qualified for a grant, and in the second week of January, will begin taking bids on the construction of a community storm shelter that can hold more than 85 residents.  Currently, the basements of two local churches and the Colony Senior Citizens’ Center serve as designated shelters.

-In mid-January, Jolanda Hutson of Good Samaritan Health Clinic is scheduled to come to Colony to enroll uninsured residents in the clinic’s program, making healthcare more accessible to the area’s low-income families.

-The Town is applying to the Cullman County Community Development Commission (CCCDC) for a grant to purchase a generator large enough to power the Colony Educational Complex in the event of a power outage.  Such a backup will allow the Town to keep food refrigerated, provide a cool place in the summer and a warming station in the winter, as well as to provide local residents with hot meals.

-A second CCCDC grant application could fund the replacement of one of the Educational Complex’s aging air conditioning units.

-Colony is already working on renewing its successful summer feeding program from last year.  The federally-funded program, supported by the North Alabama Food Bank (NAFB), was the first to start and the longest running of multiple summer programs around the county, operating weekdays from June 1 through the end of July.  More than 20 local kids were served per day, with single-day numbers reaching as high as 46.  When reviewed, the program was commended by the NAFB’s Laurel Moffat.

-The Town plans to reopen its community center and gym this summer.

-While not committing to a timetable, Leeth set a 2018 goal of securing a commitment from Dollar General to build a store in Colony.

Leeth concluded, “I just want to thank the folks for the opportunity to serve as mayor of the Colony, and show them what I can do if they just give me a chance, what I can furnish to the table for the Colony.  Everybody should have a chance; it doesn’t matter how your status is, or whether they like you or not.  That don’t mean nothing, but what you do to show people your status, that’s what matters.”

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