‘Challenging’: Nunn reflects on a tumultuous year in Dallas County
After everything that the world – and on a smaller scale, Dallas County – went through in 2020, it’s difficult to describe everything that has transpired over the last 12 months.
“I guess you could say it was challenging,” said Dallas County Probate Judge and Commission Chairman Jimmy Nunn.
As the county’s Probate Judge and Commission Chairman, Nunn has spent his second year in office leading Dallas County through the COVID-19 pandemic and the damage left behind by Hurricane Zeta, what he cites as the two largest obstacles of the year.
“COVID-19 and Hurricane Zeta – these challenges have overlapped and intertwined with one another,” he said. “They have made things more difficult for many of our citizens who were already in dire circumstances before the pandemic and Zeta. It’s like pouring water on a drowning man.”
It was March 18, just after Dallas County’s Primary Election, when the Commission called a press conference to inform the community of the measures they would be taking to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic that was, and still is, affecting people around the globe.
The Dallas County Courthouse was eventually closed to the public and handled all services via telephone or email, the Commission began meeting only once per month and Dallas County’s Runoff Election would be postponed to July.
The Commission then responded by using disaster funds to install a number of safety measures at the courthouse including temperature checkpoints at entrances, plexiglass shields for employees that deal with the public and plenty of hand sanitizer stationed throughout the building.
“We took a licking in 2020, but we kept on ticking,” said Nunn.
The Probate Judge and Commission Chairman commended everyone who rose to the occasion in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, a silver lining in the gray cloud that was 2020: Selma Area Food Bank (SAFB) Executive Director Jeff Harrison and Gospel Tabernacle Church of God in Christ Pastor John Grayson distributed hundreds of meals to those in need; local healthcare providers hosted pop-up COVID-19 testing sites; and seemingly hundreds of Zoom meetings were conducted to inform the public about the ever-growing effects of the virus.
“We all did our best to make it through the new normal,” said Nunn. “The new normal where COVID-19 is a household name, a facemask is a wardrobe item and Zoom is a new way of communicating.”
Nunn said the community rose to the occasion once again after Hurricane Zeta devastated Dallas County at the end of October, downing hundreds of trees and power lines in its wake just before the November 3 Election.
“When Hurricane Zeta came through, it didn’t leave a single precinct with power,” said Nunn. “But with everyone working together – Alabama Power, Pioneer Electric – we were able to restore power to all precincts but one.”
In addition to watching the community rally in the face of two great obstacle, Nunn said another high point in the tumultuous 2020 was the batch of newly elected leaders, not only for Dallas County, but for the City of Selma and Valley Grande.
Nunn also reported that the Commission approved a balanced budget, and that tax money is still rolling in to keep Dallas County running.
“It’s been difficult, but by God’s grace we’re still hanging on,” he said.
“There’s a reason your rearview mirror is small. You should remember the past, but focus more on the future,” continued Nunn. “Let’s not forget 2020, but let’s focus on the larger things to come in 2021. Many people feel uncertain going into 2021 but we must continue to support one another and I’m looking forward to seeing the community do that in 2021. I have faith in God that 2021 is going to be a better year for Dallas County. Vaccines are coming out and hopefully that will slow the spread of this disease and allow the employees of Dallas County to provide better service to the citizens.”