North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

August 7, 2012

Progress 2012: Focus is forward for Kimberly's new mayor

By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News

KIMBERLY — Mayor Bob Ellerbrock has had an interesting year, to say the least.

He has only been the mayor for a little more than two weeks, having taken over when Craig Harris resigned the post after moving away from the city.

That move marked the end of a tumultuous relationship between Harris, Ellerbrock and the rest of the city council, who battled over a host of issues during Harris’ tenure.

Now all of that is behind the city, and Ellerbrock is hoping to get things moving in a better direction. One of the things the new mayor is doing right off the bat is trying to establish better communications with different parts of the community.

“I’ve asked three different people to work with different parts of the community, such as our schools, to see how we can work with them better,” Ellerbrock said.

Despite the tumult, the city has seen some progress over the past year. For one thing, it is officially a city now, having increased in population to more than 2,000 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. That meant a few changes, such as adding an additional council meeting each month, as required by state law.

Ellerbrock said that one of the biggest improvements in Kimberly recently has been the addition of professional paid firefighters to the city’s department. Two firefighters work 10-hour shifts during the day, when the rest of the department’s volunteer force is usually at their day jobs.

“That has made a big difference for us, especially with the new high school here,” Ellerbrock said.

Mortimer Jordan High School just completed its first full year at its new campus, on the outskirts of the city.

Kimberly still struggles to attract retail businesses, which would increase the city’s tax base. A supermarket opened there, but was short-lived; the building now stands vacant.

“One thing that hurts us in that regard is the lack of a sewer system,” Ellerbrock said about the effort to bring in more businesses.