This is a report on the past two meetings of the Eutaw City Council on November 27 and December 11, 2018.
The City Council approved a proposal from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) for $600,000 for enhanced lighting of on-and-off ramps at Exit 40 on Interstate 20 and 59, where the proposed Love’s Travel Center and truck stop will be located.
ALDOT will finance the improvement of the lighting with the expectation of getting repaid for half of the costs – $300,000 – beginning in 2023 when the project will be generating increased gas and sales tax revenues for the City of Eutaw and Greene County.
The City Council also approved bids for the extension of the sewage line along Highway 14 from the city limits to Love’s proposed location. The low bid of $728,731.50 for construction of the sewer line came from Cornerstone Civil Contractors of Northport, Alabama. The total cost of the sewer line project, including engineering and administration will be $897,406.50.
The City of Eutaw has $772.425 in grants for the project from ADECA and Delta Regional Authority, which leaves $124,981.50 to complete the project. The Greene County Industrial Development Authority has agreed to loan this amount to the City with repayment based on revenues from taxes over time.
Mayor Steele announced that based on his discussions with Love’s officials that construction of the Travel Center and truck stop will begin in January 2019 and be completed in nine months by the late Fall of 2019. Once Love’s is in operation it will generate $ 4 to 6 million in retail sales and 8 to 10 million gallons in gas and diesel sales per year.
In response to questions from Council members, Mayor Steele said he would contact Central Asphalt and tell them they must begin immediately on the repairs to the roads and streets in Branch Heights or the project will be rebid.
In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:
• approved the reappointment of Theresa Beeker to a four-year term on the Greene County Industrial Development Authority;
• adopted a holiday schedule providing December 24 and 25 as holidays and December 31 and January 1 as holidays, employees may take additional time off using annual leave based on arrangements with their supervisors;
• cancelled the second monthly Council meeting for December, which falls on Christmas Day;
• voted 3 to 2 to declare a shed at the National Guard Armory as surplus, so it can be leased to REACH, a non-profit organization for storage of its furniture project. Mayor Steele objected to this proposal saying the building was needed for storage of Christmas lights and other city equipment;
• agreed to a Christmas toy giving program to be held at the Robert H. Young Civic Center (formerly Carver Middle School), which the City of Eutaw is co-sponsoring, provided that the proper paperwork for use of the facilities is presented;
• voted down, by a tie vote of 3 to 3, a proposal by Councilmember LaJeffrey Carpenter to name local Attorney Joshua Sword as Municipal Judge.
At the end of the meeting, several Councilmembers reminded the Mayor of the need for a budget and audit report as well as a regular reporting of bills paid which had been left off the past three Council meeting agendas.
Shown above Mayor of Forkland Charlie McAlpine, City Council and community members with CEO of Greene County Health System giving plaque of appreciation.
Shown above Mayor of Boligee Louis Harper, City Council and community members with CEO of Greene County Health System giving plaque of appreciation.
Dr. Marcia Pugh, GCHS CEO/Administrator, attended meetings of the municipal governments in Forkland and Boligee to thank the Mayors and councilmembers for assistance to the Greene County Health System. The GCHS consists of the Hospital, Residential Care Center (Nursing Home) Physicians Clinic and other ancillary health services.
On Monday night, March 5, Dr. Pugh thanked the Mayor and Council members in Forkland and presented them a plaque for their contribution of $3,499 which was used to purchase a commercial hot water heater for the hospital when the current hot water heater failed.
On Tuesday night, March 13, Dr. Pugh thanked the Mayor and Council of Boligee and presented them with a plaque for their contribution of $4,488, which was used to purchase new air conditioning units for the facility to replace units that had served their time and worn out.
Dr. Pugh also received $1,074.70 from the Town of Union, which was used to purchase a new hospital bed for the Residential Care Center, where more replacement beds are urgently needed. Dr. Pugh said she would also bring a plaque for the Town of Union at a future city council meeting.
“Our hospital is non-profit and we have a charitable foundation that can accept donations and bequests from individuals, churches, organizations, businesses and others in the community to improve and strengthen our facilities. We have a long needs list, with small and large items, if you would like to help us to enhance our facilities and services, said Pugh.
For more information contact Dr. Pugh at GCHS, 509 Wilson Avenue, Eutaw, Alabama 35462; phone: 205/372-3388; email: Marcia.Pugh@gcheutaw.com.
On Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, Eutaw Mayor Hattie Edwards and the City Council held a closed personnel hearing reportedly for three Eutaw police officers who had been placed on administrative leave. At the close of the hearing, the outcome was not announced. It is expected that at the next regularly scheduled city council meeting on Tuesday, October 25, the public will be be given more information regarding the hearing and subsequent decisions.
In an attempt to ascertain who has hiring and firing authority in city government, the Greene County Democrat staff researched recent municipal cases on this issue which resulted in Supreme Court decisions.
The Alabama Supreme Court has issued various case rulings confirming that, in Alabama, mayors alone have the power to hire and fire municipal employees. In 2009 the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Fairfield Mayor Kenneth Coachman, who had sued five members of the city council after they voted in favor of an ordinance that would have stripped the mayor of appointing authority. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Dan King ruled that, according to state law, the authority rested with the mayor. The Supreme Court upheld King’s decision.
In similar cases steaming from the 2009 decision, the Alabama Supreme Court issued rulings against the city councils of Fairhope and Daphne when they passed ordinances removing their mayors’ power over personnel matters and giving it to themselves. The Supreme Court forced the city councils to undo the ordinances.
At press time, the Democrat was unable to reach the city attorney to corroborate the process and procedures involved in hiring and firing practices in Eutaw Municipal Government.
Chief Coleman and Drug Task Force Commander, Clint Sumlin
At its regular meeting on April 26, 2016, the Eutaw City Council approved a resolution clarifying the procedure for waiving or reducing the usage fee for the City’s National Guard Armory on Mesopotamia Street by non-profit organizations.
Currently the fee is $250 for a meeting or social event. The amount is higher for activities that are raising funds. The new resolution clarifies that to receive reduced cost or a waiver, a group or organization, must submit an application for a fee waiver or reduction. The applying group must attach a copy of their IRS 501(c) 3 charitable status; and be an “organization, group or individual who have a history of providing material items to the community, such as food, clothing, health care and the like”; or, a funeral repast for local residents. “The City is willing to reduce the fee for qualified community groups that will benefit residents of the City of Eutaw, but we are now, as of the adoption of this resolution, keeping files and records to make sure that the facility is used properly,” said Mayor Hattie Edwards.
The Mayor announced that the ALDOT project to resurface Prairie Avenue from the Courthouse Square to Highway 43 is proceeding according to plans and $750 was spent on a permit to cross the Norfolk-Southern Railroad tracks that cross Prairie Avenue.
The project is scheduled to be bid and constructed over the next few months.
Police Chief Derrick Coleman introduced Clint Sumlin, who is Area Commander for the area’s Criminal Drug Task Force. Sumlin spoke about the work of the Task Force in interdicting the drug trade in and around our area. “The Task Force invites local law enforcement officers to ride with them and participate in activities as part of our training efforts. We do not provide insurance for the officers, who are volunteering, but we expect their home base department will help with this,” said Sumlin. He said the Drug Task Force was needed and would help keep everyone safer.
Theresa Beeker addressed the City Council about organizing volunteers to help keep the City Park and tennis court in town, next to the Episcopal Church, clean so children and their parents can use it. She suggested that each council-member organize people in their district to clean and patrol the park one week a month, on a rotating basis. Mayor Edwards said that they would take this under consideration at a future meeting.
Carl Davis asked the police to help residents in Branch Heights to stop young people from shooting each other and into vehicles and homes. “These young people know that they cannot be held in the adult jail so they are shooting guns and provoking the police. We need to work with them and their parents to stop the violence,” said Davis.