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TARCOG News & Headlines

Read on for recent happenings, announcements, and notable headlines from TARCOG and its communities throughout the region.

TARCOG Ready For Epic 2024!

Michelle Gilliam Jordan

Happy new year to you and your families as we celebrate the first week of 2024!

Beyond the stress, hustle and bustle and family times of the holiday season, I hope you found some time be alone and reflect on your year behind and your year forward. What went well, where are you now and what do you want to change for the year upcoming? We encouraged our entire staff to this as we prepare for what we believe will be an epic year for TARCOG.

We had several big changes in 2023. The year began with us dealing with the aftermath of a flood near the end of 2022 which caused catastrophic damage at our longtime location on Research Drive. We moved to a temporary location in Research Park Office Center on Old Madison Pike and are busy working on plans for a new office building which will be located on Corporate Drive, near our old location. We hope to see construction begin by Summer/Fall of 2024.

Other significant changes involved our executive staff.

We said farewell to Rene Breland, Director of Aging Programs, who is enjoying retirement after 11 years with TARCOG. Picking up where Rene left off is Sheila Dessau-Ivey, who we welcomed to fill that role in May. She has been a great addition to our team and the TARCOG region.

Sara James stepped down as the Director of Economic Development and Planning in June, and we now have Lee Terry, former City of Decatur Planning Manager filling this important role. He brings a wealth of City and Transportation Planning to TARCOG, and we are excited about the future of our region.

Our Human Resource Manager, Brenson Parks, left the agency in August, and Teri Aldridge joined us in October to fill this position. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that we are counting on with our employee recruitment needs as our agency continues to grow and provide more services to our communities in DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone, Madison and Marshall counties.

A new Communications Coordinator position was created recently to help TARCOG do a better job of sharing our story. That role is being filled by Wendy Reeves since late August. She is the former executive director of Partnership for a Drug-Free Community who has extensive public relations and journalism experience in our community. You’ll be seeing more stories about what we’re doing in this newsletter, on our website at, and through our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and coming soon, YouTube. So please be sure to follow us if you don’t already.

These new faces complete our executive team along with Gerald Carter, our director of Finance who has been with TARCOG going on 14 years, and Alexis Gunderson, my executive administrative assistant for 2 years. Together, we all lead our staff of 85 employees who are assisting our aging and disabled population and their caregivers and working to strengthen our five counties and 47 member governments through economic development and planning. We are fortunate to have a team made of men and women who care about what they do, and the people we serve.

In this month’s newsletter you’ll learn a little bit about a staff member who has made a significant impact on the TARCOG Region. Many of our member governments and partners have known Del Shafer from the 48 years he’s worked on getting grants and working on projects that have improved the quality of life in our part of North Alabama. He is a big part of TARCOG’s history, and we are thankful to have him remain a part of our team.

Speaking of history, there’s something else that’s significant in 2024 as it will be the 55th year since the Alabama State Legislature authorized creation of substate regional planning and development commissions. The TARCOG area, created in 1968, was already formed and functioning, but was officially designated an official substate district in 1969.

That’s just one of the reasons we’re reflecting on the past as we look to the future. So please, if you haven’t already, find time to gift yourself with rest and reflection, and enjoy this new year with a renewed spirit, mind and body; your body will thank you.

Wishing you a happy and bright 2024.

TARCOG Executive Director Michelle Gilliam Jordan