About Lowndes County
Lowndes County was established on January 20, 1830 in honor of William Lowndes, a statesman from South Carolina. Lowndes County is a rural community located in the south-central portion of the state, often referred to as the “Black Belt” due to its rich, fertile soil. It is bound by Montgomery (East), Butler (South), Crenshaw (Southeast), Wilcox (Southwest), Dallas (East) and Autauga (North) counties. The county is comprised of 716 square miles of rolling pastureland, flat land, and pine and oak trees. The Alabama River runs through the nature rich county. The major routes that run through the county are Interstate 65, U.S. Highway 80 and 31. There are seven incorporated townships and many unincorporated communities. Hayneville is the county seat and Ft. Deposit is the largest township. Lowndes County is a part of the Montgomery County Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Some of the major attractions are the Civil Rights and Civil War Memorials including The Calhoun School, Southern Sportsman’s Hunting Lodge, Lowndes County Interpretative Center, Holy Ground Battlefield Park, Robert Henry Lock & Dam, Lowndesboro Heritage Celebration, Alabama Wildlife Management Area, Alabama River and the Okra and Calico Fort Arts and Crafts Festivals.
According to the 2012 estimated census, the county’s population is 10,857. Of the population, 73 percent is black (increase), 25 percent is white (decrease) and one percent is Hispanic (increase). The county is 53 percent female and 47 percent male. Between 24% and 27% of the population is 19 years old and younger and nearly 16% is 65 years and older. According to U.S. English Foundation Research, English is the primary language spoke in the county, while one percent speaks Spanish and less than one percent speaks French.
The educational system is made up of two public high schools, two public middle schools, three public elementary schools, one Head Start program that has about 300, three to five year old, students and one private academy, Pre-K through 12th grade. More than three-fourths of the adult citizens are high school graduates and 15% are college educated. The county is served by several community colleges, technical colleges and universities. The graduation rate for the public schools is about 67%.
The major employers include Sabic (formerly GE Plastics), Lowndes County Board of Education, Lowndes County Commission, Lowndes County Department of Human Resources, Sejong Alabama LLC, Daehan Solutions-Alabama, Inc., Kelly Aerospace, Inc., Bates Turkey Farm and Priester’s Pecans and agricultural industries.
The major agricultural crops in the county include cattle, broilers, sod and hay. In 2010, $62.3 million was generated through the county’s agricultural and forestry production sector. Poultry and egg production was the largest agricultural commodity, contributing 42.9 percent of the county’s total agricultural production. Lowndes County ranked fifth in the state in cattle production. The industry contributed 27.2% of the county’s total agricultural production, making it the second largest agricultural commodity. The third largest commodity was greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, which contributed 3.1 percent of the county’s total agricultural production.
One of the greatest assets that the county possesses is its people. The people of Lowndes County are proud, hardworking, and friendly. They enjoy the simply thing in life like any other community. They are loyal to family and friends. Some family have lived within their family homesteads for generation, passing down many family traditions, while others live in the townships and communities.
The incorporated towns are White Hall, Ft. Deposit, Hayneville, Lowndesboro, Benton, Mosses, and Gordonville. Each town has a mayor and town council. Each town and many unincorporated communities have volunteer fire and paid police departments. Each town has a community meeting facilities.
Unlike metropolitan areas, all of the communities are relatively safe, where people know and watch out for their neighbors. These communities offer a world of assets that could be utilized to promote, encourage and enhance an active and healthy lifestyle. All of the communities have the advantage of wide open spaces and clean, fresh air. Lowndes County has miles of county maintained paved and dirt roads that can be used for walking, running/jogging and biking. Some of the communities have high mountain-like hills for climbing. Each community has streams, lakes, ponds that can be used for water-related physical activities such as swimming and fishing. The town of White Hall is home to part of the Alabama River which makes for easy access to great water recreation . All of the communities have some type of indoor/outdoor basketball court or baseball field. Many of these communities also have parks (official or unofficial) and playgrounds. Some communities and churches have established walking trails and the fellowship facilities which could be available to conduct lifestyle changing programs. There is plenty of land that can be used for community gardens. The towns of White Hall, Mosses, Ft. Deposit and Hayneville have buildings that could be used as community/recreational/entertainment centers. All of the schools, which in most cases are community-based, have gymnasiums. All of the schools have physical education teachers (elementary through high school), basketball teams (middle through high school), football teams, bands, cheerleaders and ROTC (high school). Youth basketball and baseball leagues have been established. In the town of Hayneville, the Health Services, Inc (HSI) has recently opened an exercise center. For what the county lacks in financial resources, it more than makes up for it with the vast land and community resources.
With the growth of the surrounding cities, many Lowndes County residents could find employment within a 30 minute drive. The potential for new employment/business in Lowndes County is great with the availability of buildings that could be sold and renovated for new companies. Land is available in the county’s two industrial parks for new businesses. The industrial parks are located in Ft. Deposit and Hope Hull which are near Interstate 65 and are within one hour’s drive to the regional airport and two hour drive to the international airport. The county has a paved landing strip in Ft. Deposit. The county is served by CSX Transportation railroad line.
Lowndes County has two health care facilities, Lowndes County Department of Public Health and Lowndes County Health Services, Inc. The HSI has doctor and dentist. There are three pharmacies, two in Hayneville and one in Ft. Deposit. Moreover, there are ambulance services available to county residents. There are hospitals with emergency room services and care within a 30 minute drive in any direction.
Lowndes County has two small grocery stores that offer many of the basic food items. There are also three national discount stores and many restaurants that offer “home-style” cooking. There are a few small retail businesses as well.
The utility services are provided by several companies.
The towns of White Hall, Ft. Deposit, and Hayneville have libraries. Patrons can check out books or use computers with internet connection. Additionally, the school system and a local social service agency make available to the public computer with internet connection.
The county is home to two banks with branches in Hayneville and Ft. Deposit.
The one local newspaper has served Lowndes County since 1823. The paper is published weekly and provides information on many local issues.
At last count, there were 92 places of worship throughout the county.
Challenges & Needs
Like the numerous assets, Lowndes County has numerous challenges and many needs. The greatest needs are in the area of economic growth, educational attainment, financial stability, affordable and adequate housing, public and personal transportation, food security and accessible and affordable healthcare and healthy lifestyle programs to reduce the risk of chronic and acute diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer.
According to the statistics from Department of Industrial Relations – Labor Market Information Division May 2014, Lowndes County currently has an unemployment rate of 11.9% compared to the state unemployment rate of 6.8%. The median income was just over $28, 000 in 2012.
According to the 2013 Voices for Alabama’s Children – Alabama Kids County 2013 Data Book, Lowndes County ranks as one of the worst counties (in the state) in the areas of infant mortality, low weight births, children in single parent families, children in poverty, vulnerable families, child death rate, children with indication of abuse and neglect, juvenile violent crime court, preventable teen death and birth to unmarried teens. Twenty seven percent of the people living in the county lives below the poverty level and over twenty percent of the children live in extreme poverty.
Lowndes County ranks high as one of the counties with the worst health related diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart diseases, etc. Most of these chronic diseases are due to obesity for which Lowndes County is one of 14 counties in the state of Alabama with 40% or more of the adults being overweight or obese.
Lowndes County has a great need of enrichment activities for youth and adults, improved educational opportunities, better life and social skills programming, greater and positive involvement of parents especially fathers, programs that would aide parents in the supervision of their children, more workforce preparation and development, more employment opportunities, better transportation systems, better access to healthcare of all kinds, more daycare facilities, entrepreneurship training and financial education.
There are many local agencies that could partner to bring positive changes to Lowndes County. This county is served by Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Department of Human Resources, Family Guidance Center of Lowndes County, Lowndes County Public Schools, and Lowndes County Partnership for Children. Additional resources would be needed to address the many negative issues of the county.
The Lowndes County Extension office has 3 full-time employees housed in the local office. The county is served by local and regional agents and specialists in the program areas of: 4-H and Youth Development; Agriculture; Forestry and Natural Resources; Rural Affairs and New Nontraditional Programs; Family and Individual Well-Being and Community and Economic Development. We have taught and continue to teach people to raise animals, protect their investments and their environment, beautify their landscapes, prepare healthy meals for their families and so much more.
Additionally, Extension had helped families and individuals improve their quality of life through food safety, proper nutrition, parenting, family financial management and community health. Flagship programs include the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) begun in Alabama more than 30 years ago and the federally mandated Nutrition Education Program (NEP) which focuses on education food stamp recipients.
The Community and Economic Development programs focus on economic and leadership development, environmental quality and community health and public policy and strategic planning.
The Lowndes County Office is committed to improving the lives of the citizens of Lowndes County through education and partnership with other agencies.