Jamie Cole serves Ward 5
Alabaster Connection: What are the most pressing issues facing your Ward 5 constituents right now? What’s top of your agenda for your Ward?
Jamie: We’ve finished a couple of big projects to help relieve some of the stormwater issues that affected us in the historic flood of May 2021. While that was definitely a generational rainfall, there were still some things we needed to do, like holding back more water before it enters neighborhoods, clearing out some brush and debris, and improving existing drainage. We’re still following the wide-ranging drainage study we commissioned in the aftermath of that flood, and we’ve made huge strides, including building a large new retention pond on the property at Thompson High School that is already helping do the job. My son jokingly calls it the Cole Hole™.
We’ve just made a key land purchase to help complete a walking trail from Thompson Middle School to Thompson High School by way of Municipal Park, passing near two of our neighborhoods. It’s possible moving forward to connect many of our Ward 5 neighborhoods to parks and schools, tying in with the Buck Creek trail as well. This is an exciting opportunity to make our residential areas more walkable and get folks outside!
We’re doing speed studies in some of our neighborhoods, so it’s a good time to remind neighbors to observe speed limits and stop signs and keep off-road vehicles off-road! It’s costly to make changes when folks don’t check their behavior, and it can be costly to individuals who ignore signs, laws, and speed limits, for sure. What could be especially costly is someone getting hurt or worse; part of making our neighborhoods more walkable is making sure folks are driving safely.
Tell me about Alabaster Fast Forward and what this additional one-cent sales tax will mean for the city?
A difficult decision like that has to be balanced against the payoff: What needs it addresses and what it provides for residents. My colleagues and I certainly understood that moving forward was going to mean bringing our sales tax rate in line with other similar cities in our region. But at the end of the day this was a vote between status quo or progress. By now everyone is aware of the planned amenities. Many of my residents specifically mentioned a new library when I was running for office, and we have long needed the kind of public space and opportunity that a rec center provides.
Of the many projects included in the Alabaster Fast Forward plan, which one or ones are you most looking forward to?
What drew me to the plan was the ambulance service and knowing that need was immediate and drastic. I definitely have certain passions that I share with a lot of Ward 5 residents when it comes to amenities, but this service was a necessity. From the time I started running for office, I’ve said it is JOB ONE for anyone making decisions about spend to make sure our first responders have what they need to keep us safe and peaceful. I’ve never missed the chance to cast a “yes” vote for that.
My wife Charissa is the principal at Creek View Elementary, and my son is a rising sophomore at THS. So the additional SRO support was crucial to me, personally.
It’s no secret that I’m excited about the plans for the “municipal green,” which includes a new amphitheater for creative arts performances. That was already in the budget, but the Fast Forward plan allowed us to more fully realize the vision. The design is unique and matches the uses we have planned for it but also gives us room to grow. The upgrades to the Siluria area and the updates to the Senior Center … there will be something for everyone. All of that without disturbing the tree line and the natural beauty of the area! The restored water tower along with Buck Creek and the Siluria Hills are going to offer some spectacular views at that new venue!
Tell me about CityFest 2023—want to shout out the sponsors and performers?
I wouldn’t know where to start in this space because you can’t say enough about an all-volunteer organization—the Alabaster Arts Council—that is supported by great sponsors like Central State Bank and Coca Cola and bolstered by arts funding from both the city of Alabaster and now Shelby County Tourism. And I’m so happy for my friend Michael Warren, who has played here many times and headlined for us this year!
While we are proud of CityFest, it’s just one element (though certainly the biggest) supported by this funding. The third annual Alabaster Jubilee is coming up on October 28, which features artists that are a little more eclectic, and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra is coming back for the Christmas season. As we break ground on our new amphitheater, we’ll have the kind of venue that will afford more opportunities to encounter the arts without leaving Alabaster. All part of the vision!
What are your goals and plans for the remainder of this year?
To break ground on both the amphitheater and the new trail additions or at least “set a date” for both.
Any fun travel plans with your family or fun things planned for the summer?
We are all in on music this summer. Lots of concerts: Tori Amos, Jason Isbell, Ben Folds. Our family never tires of seeing great artists do their thing. We always look forward to the start of school—my wife loves it when the kids come back from summer vacation—and of course that also means high school football is starting! Go Warriors!
Stacy Rakestraw, Ward 3: Our 2023 Health Fair is coming this August at Thompson High School. Please check the city of alabasters Facebook page for more details.
Thank you to the Thompson High School ROTC volunteers who helped with the recycling program during the month of the Clean Sweep activities. Eight trash bags of plastic bottles were collected during the week the recycle boxes were placed in the high school. The Alabaster Beautification Board added this new initiative to Clean Sweep activities this year.