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Cannon, our county forester

By BY LYDIA GRIMES Feature Writer
The Brewton Standard printed its annual forestry edition as a supplement to last Sunday's newspaper. As a follow-up, one of Escambia County's own foresters is the subject of this profile.
Randy Cannon is the Escambia County Manager of the Alabama Forestry Commission. He has worked himself into that position over the past 23 years, starting out as a laborer with Hines Realty when that company was in charge of the building project at Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center.
Today Cannon works at the forestry office on Ridge Road and stays involved with forest related projects all over the county. He, like the District Forester, Gary Cole, says that the main concerns of the forestry department are forest fire control, education of the public and helping the landowners with the care and management of their land.
The department is always busy trying to educate the public as to the correct ways of handling, not only the trees in the forest, but the wildlife that is so abundant in this area.
Cannon is also involved in the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association which helps landowners with forestry management and then rewards them for their stewardship of the land.
Cannon is also a member of the Brewton Tree and Beautification Board. This board has been responsible for some of the projects that have made the city more beautiful, such as Burnt Corn Creek Park, the mural on the building downtown, the hanging baskets around town, the city park and many other projects. Right now they are working on getting the building next to the empty lot downtown torn down for their next project.
Cannon was born in Pensacola and went to school there until the age of 12. His grandparents lived at Dixie and his dad wanted to move back to that area to live. The family moved there and his parents operated a small county store for a few years near the county line. They also opened a floor covering business nearby which in 1990 became Cannon's Carpets in downtown Brewton.
Cannon attended school in Pleasant Home in Covington County and graduated from there in 1978. He was, like most county boys of the time, involved with the FFA and had his first experience with forestry-related subjects.
About that time, in 1980, Hines Realty began working on the building of Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center which is very near to where the Cannons were living.
Cannon enrolled at Lurleen B. Wallace Junior College in Andalusia and attended school at night while still holding down his job at Solon Dixon. By that time he and his wife were the parents of a daughter, Susan, who was born in 1981.
Cannon graduated in 1986 with an associate's degree in forest technology. He continued to work at Solon Dixon for another two years. His wife, Teresa, was working there at the time and is still there today.
Cannon applied to the Forest Commission for an assignment and was sent to Autauga County. It was a long 10 months in which he went to work in Autauga while his family stayed at Dixie. Ten months later, a position became available in Escambia County and he jumped at it. He got transferred back in 1989 as a Ranger II working with Robert Knowles, who was the county manager. Robert Dismukes was the District Forester at the time.
The Cannons had their third daughter, Stephanie, in 1990 and at the urging of Knowles and Dismukes, he went back to school at LBW earning another associates degree in 1995. He then went to Auburn University and graduated in 1997. He, like other forestry students, spent 10 weeks at Solon Dixon before his junior year and found it to be like old home.
After graduation, he came back to the Escambia County office and moved up to Forester in 1998. As people retired he moved up and became the County Manager.
Cannon says that he doesn't have a lot of free time, but when he does he still spends time in the woods, either fishing or hunting. He also has a rather extensive collection of old money and foreign money.