COVID-19 hits Clanton leadership again as city looks toward new era

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CLANTON, Ala. (WIAT) — Clanton City Councilman Sammy Wilson died on Jan. 28, 2021, after battling COVID-19.

His death, coupled with the death of the longtime Mayor Billy Joe Driver, has left the city without some of their most experienced and longest-serving leaders at a crucial time.

Clanton City Councilman Sammy Wilson died on January 28.

“Sammy worked for this city doing a lot of things that people will never see,” the current Mayor of Clanton, Jeff Mims, said. “He always had the city in his heart, the city would always come first, he was always going to try to do what’s right. We’re gonna miss those parts.”

In late January, COVID-19 claimed the life of longtime Clanton councilman and chairman of the utilities board, Sammy Wilson. His death came about six months after the virus killed their mayor of 36 years, Billy Joe Driver. 

“Last night, we just vacated his spot,” Mayor Mims said about formally opening up the council position.

Mayor Mims and the late councilman Wilson sharing a laugh at their swearing in ceremony in November.

Mayor Mims swore into the role in November, with a vision of moving the city of less than 9,000 into a new era. He said having the two men the city lost would’ve helped out tremendously.

“Losing mayor driver was a big deal for the knowledge he had,” Mims said. “The waterlines, sewer lines, infrastructure – he knew where every one of them was. Would’ve been nice to bend his ear…”

But now, Mayor Mims is left with his team to figure things out. According to the latest CDC data on Tuesday, Chilton County, where Clanton’s located, has just under a 13% positivity rate–that’s following a downward trend in cases.

Around Clanton, Mims said he’s encouraging everyone to follow CDC guidelines.

“There’s some people that may not be,” Mims said. “All and all, I think most people are.”

Signs are posted throughout Clanton reminding people to mask up.

Mayor Mims would just like to see less heartbreak for his residents in Clanton.

“When you look at the paper now in the obituaries, you look in the local paper – you open it up and every week its full of people. I had a friend and his wife passed away last week on the same day. So, it’ll get close to you.”


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City hall is now accepting applications for city councilor for Clanton, District 3.

Now, the city of Clanton is working to move on. City hall is now accepting applications for the late Wilson’s District 3 council spot. Mayor mims says he and the council will have a decision on Wilson’s replacement on February 18th.

“We’ll miss ’em. We’ll always miss ’em,” Mims said.

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