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Hammock with police chief Matthew Higgins during a press conference when COVID hit last spring

Hammock: Past year - "most challenging"

By Michael Butler

Tallassee mayor Johnny Hammock is pleased to put the past 12 months behind him and focus on the days ahead.

"It's been probably the most challenging year of my life - as far as work related," Hammock said. "It's been pretty rough with the COVID and all the different things we had to do with that. The City Hall staff did a great job."

Gov. Kay Ivey lifted the mask mandate earlier this month. A portion of the population has now been vaccinated as well.

"We don't know what's going to happen. There's a lot of unknowns. We might have to get a booster shot every year. I wish I could say we're closing the chapter on this and it was a horrible nightmare we lived through, but I don't think it's over."

If the past year was anything but normal, Hammock and his staff will have an extra year to make up for it. The Alabama League of Municipalities recently changed the voting cycle moving the next city election to 2025 and every four years to follow.

"It was championed by the League basically to eliminate the confusion of when municipal elections are and presidential elections are," Tallasee Public Information Officer Griffin Pritchard said. "You have different polling places and the municipal elections seem to be overshadowed."

The Hammock administration will have an extra year with the current council. Hammock serves on the board of directors for the League of Municipalities.

"I asked why not three years instead of five, just shorten it a year," Hammock said. "It was against the state constitution to go less than four years.

"I graciously accept the extra year. I don't know if my wife does. She's sometimes torn with the stuff I go through. She does sometimes with social media. I asked her about it. It was a mixed bag, but she accepts it."

There are several projects already in the works that Hammock would like to see through in his second term.

Hammock presenting a proclamation to retiring teacher Mahua Ghosh in November of last year

"We garnered $4.3 million in grants during the first term, but it's a lot of paperwork in administering those grants."

One grant will fund renovations in the downtown district.

"That's a TAPS (Transportation Alternative Program) that comes through ALDOT," said Hammock. "It came in way high. We're working to separate that scope of work. We're going to bid the utility portion; gas, water, sewer, by itself. While that project is underway, we're going to come in and bid the TAPS project. That's the downtown streetscape, replacing all the sidewalks - making them ADA compliant, and then roadwork milling it down and paving it."

Hammock also hopes to add road repairs on Ann Avenue to the Graveyard Creek Bridge while the downtown improvements are made.

Other future projects with grant aid include upgrades at the Tallassee Sewer Lagoon and the creation of Payne Park in East Tallassee.