AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - This story dates back to 1986. Auburn Mayor Bill Ham made a decision that would shape 32 years worth of his life and the Auburn community.
Time is coming to an end for his historic service and News Leader 9's Parker Branton sat down with Ham to talk about his time in office and what the future holds for the city.
"It goes as far back as 1986," said Ham.
Ham said back i1986, he was standing in line at Auburn Bank and ran into current Mayor Jan Dempsey. Ham says Dempsey told him it was time for him to pay his civic grant and give back to the community.
"I had a two-year-old son, a young family, and I just really don't have time, I said."
Ham said that was his initial response , but after meeting with several former mayors and other officials, he decided he would take his shot at city leadership through city council.
"I'll run one time. If I'm fortunate to get elected, that's it," explained Ham.
Little did he know, that would just be the beginning. Twelve years serving on city council and his last four years, he was mayor pro-tem. When Dempsey decided to run for the State House, the rest was history.
"It was kind of a natural move for me."
Ham ran for mayor in 1998 and is now serving five terms. He has 32 years worth of service in local government, taking Auburn to new heights, and breaking ground on a plan to bring new jobs.
Before heading out of office, Ham and the city council made last-minute moves in May of this year to shape the future of the city.
"A recreation plan that will be transformational for the future of this community," said Ham.
A $40 million plan spread out through several years includes revamping recreation, specialized recreation equipment, and an Amphitheater. Ham said the city relationship with Auburn University played a key role in success during his time, and also with establishing the research park bringing in numerous jobs and an economical boost.
"There's so much more--- the relationship to Auburn University, the tennis center, the ongoing relationship with high technology-based companies that wouldn't be here necessarily, or wouldn't have a strong relationship without the school of engineering and Auburn University," said Ham.
Back in May, Ham made an announcement amongst a crowd at the annual Memorial Day breakfast. The announcement would start a new chapter for the city.
"I didn't make this decision overnight. I've had a plan for a number of years," said Ham.
Ham said his grandchildren and business ventures will consume his time after office. He said he has a long list of names to thank and hands to shake, but at the end of the day, he said the ground is laid for the city to reach even higher and grow even larger.
"Certainly we are experiencing growth, significant growth. I told a number of people I really believe the best is yet to come," said Ham.