John F. Floyd
I will address three topics in this commentary, Gadsden State Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, the Etowah Youth Orchestras and the Gadsden city election.
The announcement of Gadsden State’s Advanced Manufacturing Center is monumental for Gadsden and Etowah County. The facility, which will cover more than 50,000 square feet, will feature programs that will encompass precision machinery and robotics.
Miranda Prescott, Gadsden Times reporter, wrote, “These workshops, according to Dr. Alan Smith, dean of workforce development, will allow the college to offer a variety of educational programs for dual enrollment, short-term and long-term professional certificates, associate degrees and a wide variety of other trainings.”
The Advanced Manufacturing Center has been a dream and goal of Dr. Smith for quite some time. I remember a conversation we had on the street where he discussed his ideas and goals to accomplish the creation of the Center.
Dr. Smith has covered all the bases, but I would encourage the center to establish partnerships with local manufacturing businesses, and I consider Honda in Lincoln to be local. I was glad to see Michael Gaines, division leader at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, as part of the announcement.
Congratulations to all involved in this very positive step toward Gadsden’s future. Prescott also reported that David Hooks, Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority director, said, “I want to congratulate Dr. Kathy Murphy on her tireless effort to bring this exciting project to fruition.”
This project is exciting. It positions Gadsden State at the forefront of industrial development education in the state of Alabama.
The Etowah Youth Orchestras is one of the jewels in Etowah County and Gadsden’s crown. The EYO was founded in October 1990, 32 years ago, to complement the established strings program in Gadsden City Schools by offering beginnings strings in selected Etowah County and Attalla City achools. The founders created an intermediate string orchestra and an advanced full orchestra and offered to promote private string instruction in Etowah County.
Under the guidance of Music Director and Conductor Michael Gagliardo, the orchestra has flourished and grown to the extent it has presented concerts throughout the United States and overseas. In addition, the orchestra has performed in Carnegie Hall in New York.
The EYO has an impressive portfolio. What could go wrong for such an uplifting, fulfilling, juvenile-oriented program?
The problem facing the EYO is it has no appropriate venue in Etowah County to perform. In order to exhibit their musical expertise, its members have to travel to Calhoun County to the beautiful Oxford Performing Arts Center.
The problem started with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning System at Gadsden State Community College’s Wallace Hall Fine Arts Center. The system has been inoperable for more than two years. That begs the question, “When will the AC system at Wallace Hall be fixed?”
Wallace Hall is the only appropriate concert hall in Etowah County. The Venue at Coosa Landing is large enough, but its acoustics are lacking for concerts and the audience sits below the stage in less than comfortable chairs. Also, the Venue is cost prohibitive.
As to the cost, why should the EYO have to pay any amount of money to the City of Gadsden, or any other organization, to display their talents? We are forever saying Gadsden needs more activities for young people. The EYO is a perfect example of what young people need in Gadsden. Presently, the EYO has to pay Wallace Hall, or any other public site, $2 of every $10 ticket sold.
The closest the EYO has come to a reasonable concert hall is Rainbow Presbyterian Church, where it has performed magnificently. Now it’s having to travel to Calhoun County. Something is wrong with this picture.
As I stated in a previous commentary, “The coming city election is the most important election in the history of Gadsden.”
The results will determine the future direction of our once proud city. Will our wonderful city continue its downward spiral, or will we experience a new birth of optimism and change?
Consider these extremely important attributes in determining your choices for these most important seats of power: honesty, integrity, experience and professionalism, with heavy emphasis on honesty and integrity.
Without honesty and integrity, the other attributes are not worth discussing.
Hopefully, the Gadsden city election will bring a new beginning.
John F. Floyd is a Gadsden native who graduated from Gadsden High School in 1954. He formerly was director of United Kingdom manufacturing, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., vice president of manufacturing and international operations, General Tire & Rubber Co., and director of manufacturing, Chrysler Corp. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions reflected are his own.