Colony leaders push to make life better for community

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Colony Mayor Donnis Leeth displays the award naming the town of Colony a 2019 Healthcare Champion in the Morehouse School of Medicine Healthy Communities Initiative, for its development of a community garden. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

This profile was part of The Cullman Tribune's special "Community Matters" section on March 19, 2019.

COLONY, Ala. – In the last year, the small southwest Cullman County town of Colony has seen its share of drama inside its town hall, with council members joining, quitting and even being voted out.  None of that has deterred the town’s leaders from their vision for a community they hope to leave more prosperous, safer and healthier than they found it.

Over that time, Mayor Donnis Leeth, Town Clerk Patricia Ponder and the town council have made multiple improvements and laid the foundations for even more in a short amount of time.  Forward-thinking moves have included:

  • Establishment of a Carpenter’s Cabinet community food pantry at the Colony Educational Complex.  On its opening day in November, food was distributed to 20 area families.
  • Creation of a community garden in partnership with Morehouse School of Medicine and help from the North Alabama Agriplex.  Several raised beds have been constructed on the south side of the Educational Complex, and more are coming this year. Morehouse issued the town a grant, to promote exercise for those who come to work the garden and better nutrition for those who eat its produce.
  • Continuation of a federally-funded summer feeding program to ensure that kids who could qualify for free or reduced meals during the school year would continue to have access to nutrition through their vacation. The program was supplemented with a summer educational enrichment program carried out in partnership with the Benedictine Sisters of Cullman. This year’s short-term enrichment program will include a summer camp for older kids to get hands-on with computers, 3-D printers and other technology.
  • Installation of a community tornado shelter behind town hall that can provide protection to 80 or more people in the event of an emergency.
  • Establishment of an Air Evac Lifeteam landing zone in the town’s park near town hall.

Of course, the word that has been drifting around Colony since Leeth came into office was that the town was working on getting a Dollar General.  Just recently, the mayor was able to announce that the company has located a piece of property in town, on Alabama Highway 91 going out toward the interstate.  A timetable for construction has not been established.

During a town council discussion about future plans, Leeth said, “We’re just trying to make the Colony be something.  All these years I was in the military, 21 years. When I left, there wasn’t nothing; when I come back, there wasn’t nothing.  Same thing we had, they still got it. I’ve been trying to put something in the Colony for the young people and the elder people.”

Leeth’s stated long-term plans for Colony include a laundromat, carwash, an affordable government-subsidized single-family development and paving the town hall parking lot.  He also proposed regular community activities at the Colony Senior Center, ranging from movie nights to bingo.

Leeth concluded that council discussion by saying, “We’re going to make it happen, y’all.”

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