Eutaw City Council moves forward, secures help with finances and operating water system

Tommy Johnson take oath of office as new Police Chief of Eutaw on Nov. 2, from Judge Josh Swords; his wife holds Bible.

By John Zippert,
The new Mayor and City Council of Eutaw met for its first regular meeting on November 10, 2020 at the Carver School Community Center gymnasium. The City Council held an Organizational Meeting on November 2nd after they were sworn-in to handle procedures and appointments.
Mayor Latasha Johnson said that she had spent most of the past week learning about the operation of the City’s water system and securing a needed permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, which had expired in the Spring of the year.
Mayor Johnson indicated that she had received help from Kathie Horne of Rural Water Management, a consulting firm, that the previous mayor had barred from working at the City Hall. “We worked most of last week and weekend with ADEM to secure the permit to operate our water system. We were about to incur fines of $10,000 a day for being out of compliance but we have resolved this issue,” said Johnson.
Johnson, City Clerk Kathy Bir and Assistant Clerk Joe Lee Powell have worked with Rural Water Management, the computer softwear company that handles the water billing and others to begin to unravel the billing and water loss problems of the Eutaw Water System.
Powell said, “By January 2021, we should have a pretty good handle on the water meters, billing and revenues; in November, we billed for over $90,000 water, sewer and garbage bills. We are also enforcing a “no cash policy” which means residents must pay their bills with checks or money orders.”
Johnson presented a proposal from former City Council member, attorney and financial management consultant to York and Livingston, Ralph Liverman, to provide financial management services to the Eutaw City Council including preparing a budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, monthly financial reports, a four-year capital and infrastructure improvement plan and budget. Council approved this agreement with Liverman, which will cost no more than $1,500 a month.
The Council appointed Mayor Latasha Johnson as “City Water Superintendent” for a compensation of $800 month in addition to her salary as Mayor. When asked, how the City was going to pay for all these expenses, Mayor Johnson said, “We have found and deposited over $30,000 in checks and cash this week, that was casually lying around in the office, in drawers and cabinets. Also, we are expecting better revenues from the Water Department, as we straighten it out and there are some positions we discontinued and will not fill, until we are sure we can afford them.”
In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:
• Received a proclamation from Alabama Governor Kay Ivy extending the state “Safer at Home” health order, which includes mandatory mask wearing, from November 8, 2020 to January 7, 2021. Councilwoman Tracie Hunter suggested that the City check with local businesses and urge them to enforce the mask mandate because some are not requiring mask wearing.
• Agreed to advertise available city positions for 3 weeks in both local newspapers. The positions include: Utility Clerk, Assistant Utility Clerk, UCR Clerk and Assistant Clerk, Water/Sewer Workers and Street/Garbage Workers.
• Approved a new City employee pay scale which will raise wages for most employees.
• Approved purchase of an overnight deposit bag for Merchants and Farmers Bank.
• Agreed to celebrate Veterans Day (November 11) as a paid holiday for city employees.
Chief of Police, Tommy Johnson introduced has staff of new officers and said all would wear unforms rather than other forms of dress.
Mayor Johnson asked Council members with resident’s complaints about streets, drainage and other concerns, to put them in writing and submit them, so she and the city staff can be sure to respond and correct any problems.
Councilwoman Jacqueline Stewart asked that the City Council members be informed between meetings of any new hires for city positions so that they would know before their constituents questioned them about new people.
Councilwoman Valerie Watkins asked for a training in Robert’s Rules of Order, so they would know the proper way to make motions and conduct city business.
Councilwoman Tracie Hunter asked the audience “To pray with us and for us and be patient as we learn how to be a good City Council.”

Local leaders meet to discuss safety strategies for community regarding COVID-1

Eutaw Postal Clerk, Bessie Smith serves a customer behind separation of plastic sheet, trying to insure some measure of protection.

Editor’s Note: The following information was provided by Ms. Iris Sermon, E911/EMS Director

On Sunday, March 29, 2020, a group of officials of Greene County met to discuss and share strategies that could assist in protecting local citizens and first responders regarding the COVID-19 Virus. To comply with Governor Kay Ivey’s mandate, the gathering was limited to the four Town Mayors, the County Commission Chairperson, the Greene County Health System CEO, Greene County Schools Superintendent, Chief of Police, Greene County Sheriff and Greene County E911/EMA Director.
Those in attendance also positioned themselves six feet apart as mandated for health security purposes.
The group noted that they did not call a public meeting because of the state and federal mandates limiting numbers that can gather and observing physical distancing because of the virus.
The officials agreed to continue to publicize, through various means, the seriousness of the COVID-19 Virus and the precautions and mandates the citizens must follow for the safety of all.

These include the following:

  • Stop Social Gatherings, including house and yard parties; youth gathering in groups in any location.
  • Practice Physical Distancing, stay 6ft. apart from others .
    Practice Safe Hygiene, wash your hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds or use sanitizer.
    Clean Surfaces Frequently, doorknobs, counter tops, telephones, eye glasses.
  • Stop Traveling, do not go in and out of infected areas. If you know of someone traveling to Greene County or in your area coming from emergency pandemic areas – ask them and inform them of the national mandate to isolate themselves for at least 14 days.
    Germs Live on Surfaces – 2 to 8 hours on aluminum; 8 hours on gloves; 24 hours on cardboard; 48 hours on stainless steel (example water faucets) 2 to 3 days on plastic (example water bottles); 4 days on glass; 4 days on wood.
    *If You Have Symptoms – coughs, fever, shortness of breath, contact your physician, local clinic of hospital for an appointment or call the testing line to arrange for testing (you will be screened) 1-888-264-2256. If line is busy continue to call.
    Currently there are three Greene County citizens confirmed with COVID-19 virus.
    Confirmed COVID-19 in our surrounding Counties: Marengo – 4, Pickens – 2, Sumter – 1; Tuscaloosa – 27. As a citizen you are not provided with the names, exact locations and/or addresses of COVID-19 infected persons, therefore it may be safe to treat each person as a possible carrier. Protect yourself and the community. Check with your local town officials for more specific plans regarding your safety.