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Mayor: ‘Spirit of cooperation’ defines county

Mayor: ‘Spirit of cooperation’ defines county
By BRAD GASKINS
News Editor
It wasn’t politics as usual last year in Weakley County, at least not as County Mayor Houston Patrick saw it.
Optimism and a “spirit of cooperation” defined the county in 2012, he said.
“There seems not to be animosity these days, but rather a spirit of cooperation,” Patrick said. “I hope to goodness this is a permanent situation. We’ve learned that we can get a lot more done working together than we can working against each other.
“I’m optimistic for the future in the sense that the past has been what I consider a light that shines into the future and lets us see that things can be done.”
Overall, 2012 was a “good year” for Weakley County, Patrick said Friday, when he sat down with the Press to review the last year and look forward to 2013.
On the economic front, Patrick spoke of a local business atmosphere with a buzz of excitement surrounding it. Each new business that opens will likely employee between three and seven new hires, good news for a county that has one of the state’s highest employment rates.
The businesses that opened locally in 2012 are guided by “true entrepreneurs with staying power,” he said.
Patrick praised the renovations at Obion County’s Everett Stewart Regional Airport, including a 1,500-foot runway extension to 6,500 feet.
“I think things are really going to begin happening around that facility,” he said.
Patrick said he has good personal and business relationships with Obion County Mayor Billy McGuire, and said those relationships will benefit both counties as they work together to bring more jobs to the region.
Once water levels rise back to normal, Patrick said Cates Landing in Tiptonville would serve as a “tremendous boon to industry all up and down the Mississippi River.”
Patrick said he looks forward to working with the Ken-Tenn Regional Alliance, a six-county partnership incorporated across state lines in rural Northwest Tennessee and rural Southwest Kentucky. Participants include Lake, Obion and Weakley counties in Tennessee and Carlisle, Fulton and Hickham counties in Kentucky.
“That has possibilities,” Patrick said. “It’s moving along to the point now that I think eventually when we have funding that will be good. I feel real good about the future.”
Patrick praised the counties elected officials and employees.
“We have some of the best people from management all the way down to the ones who push the brooms that clean the buildings. We’ve got good people working in every area of business, and I am so thankful for that. It helps me keep my spirits up and be a cheerleader for the things that are going on.”
Still, some hard decisions may have to be made this year.
In December, for example, County Commissioner James Westbrook said during a commission meeting that the county had cash flow issues. Revenues need to be increases and expenditures decreased, he said, to avoid tax hikes and service reductions for the 2013-14 budget year.
“People realize that it has to be done during the crunch times,” Patrick said. “I think he (Westbrook) was on target with that. I look for basically the same spirit of cooperation in that effort as things that have gone on in the year before.”
Published in The WCP 1.8.13

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