Fuller Presents State Of The City


By Hannah Lester

Last week the Opelika Chamber of Commerce held its annual state of the city address.

Mayor Gary Fuller updated residents, business owners and government officials on all the city accomplished in 2021 and what it had to look forward to in 2022.

Some of the accomplishments over the last few years in Opelika have included the Opelika SportsPlex, new library, new municipal court facility, new fire department headquarters, renovations to the high school and more.

There have been 4,000 new jobs and 2,000 single-family homes added to the city as well.

Over the last year, the city of Opelika saw some changes.

Opelika Chamber of Commerce President Ali Rauch.

Former Ward 3 Opelika Council Member Robert Lofton passed away in December after stepping down in November 2021 due to his worsening ALS condition.

Current Ward 3 Council Member Tim Aja took his place.

“Tim will have big shoes to fill and we’re confident that he’s going to make a positive impact on our community,” Fuller said.

The city saw a capital investment of $160 million in the industrial sector over the last year, plus 580 new jobs.

Some of those new developments included the Tiger Town Whataburger, Brick & Spoon, Joann stores and more. Hanwha Cimmaron expanded and Bonnie Plants formed its headquarters in Opelika.

Opelika also saw an increase in housing developments.

“Sometimes folks ask me ‘why are they building all these new houses?’” Fuller said. “The short answer is because folks are buying them. But the reason they’re buying them, folks will move to a new place for a good job and for great schools. So, we have good jobs and we have great schools.”

The 2021 budgeted revenue was over $126 million, but Opelika saw revenue of over $143 million.

The Opelika Police Department has found new ways to connect with citizens.

“We’re always trying to improve the way we communicate with our citizens and the OPD app is a great way to learn more about their programs and they also recently pushed out a citizen survey,” Fuller said.

The department had over 79,400 service calls, over 10,700 certified training hours, eight officer promotions and 11 police academy graduates.

The Opelika Fire Department welcomed its new chief Shane Boyd in 2021, and also launched new social media programs.

“They also participated in some 300-plus community outreach programs,” Fuller said. “Chief Boyd and the fire department has been making improvements, whether it be new equipment or additional services, spending more time in the community and enhancing their training.”

The Fire Department had over 5,800 emergency calls, 605 pre-fire plans, 19 business inspections, 956 fire drills, 1,100 fire hydrants that were tested and/or painted, over 440 burn permits issued and over 10,600 training hours completed.

2022-02-11 State of the City

The Opelika Parks and Recreation Department added outdoor restrooms at the Opelika SportsPlex, a parking lot and walking track and Shady Park, fencing and restroom at Ray Ward Park and a rain garden at the Wood Duck Nature Park.

The new Opelika Public Library opened in October 2021 and has since welcomed over 57,300 visits and over 950 new library cards.

Twenty-five residents completed the Ascend Ready to Work Program, 91 completed the pre-trial diversion program and there are 157 residents active in the diversion program, Fuller said.

Opelika Power Services had over $2.5 million in new infrastructure with over 540 new electric customers.

These are only some of the departments and services that were offered to Opelika in 2021.

But, upcoming projects are on the horizon.

“We have to continue to be future-focused,” Fuller said. “And look to where we’ll be in 10 or 20 years from now. Infrastructure and transportation must be at or near the top of the list.

“Getting folks from point A to point B so they can work, shop, go to school, go to church, enjoy leisure activities, is critical to maintaining the quality of life that we all love here in Opelika.”

Additionally, the Opelika 2040 Comprehensive Plan is in the works.

“The first phase of that included in-person meetings, questionnaires to understand where we’d like to grow and then, of course, the plan will wrap up this summer and fall with a final plan to be presented to the city council and to the community,” Fuller said.

Other upcoming projects include 24 covered pickleball courts, replacing the bridge on North Uniroyal Road, a new roundabout at SportsPlex Parkway and improvements to Columbus Parkway, among more.

“Thank y’all for allowing me to be mayor of this great city,” Fuller said. “It has certainly been my greatest honor and privilege to be able to work for you all. I knew the first day on the job back in 2004 who the boss was and it’s still true today; the citizens of Opelika are the boss.”


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