SYLACAUGA, Ala. – A member of Sylacauga High School’s graduating class of 1958, Jim Heigl’s yearbook-documented ambition was “to fly ‘Choppers’.” Only eight years earlier, James Whitney Heigl moved to Sylacauga when his father took a new job with Kimberly-Clark Corp.
As a teenager, Heigl enthusiastically signed up for the military draft, arriving at the local post office before it even opened for the day, and, about two years later, received notice that he had been selected. He was initially placed in field artillery training for the U.S. Army, then transferred to the Signal Corps.
Heigl vividly recalls signal school in Fort Gordon, Ga., during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, when certain schools were closed as men were reassigned to different combat units. After two intense days of cleaning equipment and zeroing in weapons, Heigl’s class was ordered to stand down and resume classes.
Following deployment in the early stages of the Vietnam War, Heigl returned to Sylacauga to work for Kimberly-Clark, where he served as a shift supervisor whose crew held one of the longest safety records. Recognized for developing ideas to improve the quality and run ability of a paper machine, Heigl also studied “Wet End Chemistry” to gain knowledge on paper machine performance and developed methods to dramatically improve sewer waste at mills.
Once retired, Heigl became involved in community organizations including the Sylacauga Beautification Council, the Marble Festival, and veteran organizations. Committed to community service, he ran for his first municipal office just a year after becoming more interested and involved in city council meetings, work sessions, board meetings, and local government.
Today, Heigl serves as the elected Commander of American Legion Post 45, an extremely active organization in Sylacauga, providing service to veterans and families.
After serving as Mayor for a short period in 2012, Heigl was elected to a full term last October and says his goal is to help make Sylacauga all it can be by providing the best possible services to citizens. Heigl plans to push infrastructure improvements, enforce city ordinances, and keep Sylacauga a clean and litter-free city.
Editor’s note: Jim Heigl was featured as the Yea!106.5 and WYEA!1290 Veteran of the Month in January 2016. That audio interview can be replayed by clicking here.
Jack Wilbanks for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2016, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.