Adairville mayor Jim Wilkerson first moved into the south Logan County city in 1964 when the Odom’s sausage plant came to town.
At the time, he was just interested in running the business. He had no idea that, decades later, he would be asked to run the city he came to think of as home.
Wilkerson started his career as mayor eight years ago, but will be moving on to the next stage of his life next week as newly elected mayor Donna Blake takes office.
His decision to first seek the office over eight years ago wasn’t Wilkerson’s idea.
“Some people felt like they needed some help running the city and they came to me,” Wilkerson said. “But I kept telling them no.”
Wilkerson had no political experience. but he had served for over 25 years on the town’s board of zoning and adjustments. Because of his work there, the Adairville Arms and Staggers Manor housing facilities were built in the city.
“When I first came here, we didn’t have any zoning laws at the time,” Wilkerson said. “Without zoning laws, they wouldn’t have been built.”
It wasn’t until someone who didn’t get along with Wilkerson asked him to run that he started to change his mind.
“This fellow came up to me on the street and he said, ‘Jim, I don’t like you,’” Wilkerson said. “‘But you’ve got everything it takes to be mayor of this city. And if you run and are elected, then I will like you.’”
The man, who Wilkerson wants to remain nameless, was one of the first Wilkerson told after he filed to run for the office.
“I told him I wasn’t going to be out politicking, though,” Wilkerson said. “I told him that if I was going to be elected, that would be up to him and the other people that wanted me to run.”
Well, they got Wilkerson elected. And the rest as they say, is history.
Among his many accomplishments in the past eight years, Wilkerson is most proud of being a good steward for the city’s finances.
“This city was sound financially when I came on board,” Wilkerson said. “And when I leave it is still going to be financially sound.”
And that is despite Wilkerson being in charge during the worst economic period of his lifetime.
“When I was elected, we had a large bond outstanding where we had built a new water plant,” Wilkerson said. “I knew we had some excess cash, so I paid the note eight years forward and saved the city $57,000 in interest alone.”
Not long after that, the bond was paid off in full and Adairville will be completely debt free when Wilkerson leaves office.
Wilkerson said he is also glad he was a part of getting the Auburn Hosiery Mill to give its property over to the city when they left town and the Safe Route To School program the city took part in that improved sidewalks between the Adairville Elementary School and Hwy 541.
Also during Wilkerson’s tenure as mayor, the city completely rehabbed both of its water tanks.
“That cost about $250,000 total and we didn’t have to finance any of it,” Wilkerson said. “We have paid our way.”
Wilkerson said he is also glad the city now had a skate park in the community park, an informational kiosk by the library and a new art center ran by Charles Brindley - all of which came about during his time as mayor.
Even though he is now leaving office, Wilkerson said he will continue to work with and for the city.
“I think a lot of (new mayor) Donna (Blake) and I will do anything I can do to help her and work with her whenever she needs it,” Wilkerson said.