Eutaw City Council approves roof
for National Guard Armory

At its first regular meeting for 2023, on January 10th, the Eutaw City Council approved a $45,000 contract with PM Roofing to replace the roof on the former National Guard Armory facility on Mesopotamia Street.
Mayor Latasha Johnson said, “We must fix this roof as a first step to saving this important building for use as a meeting and event facility for the City of Eutaw. It is currently raining in the building because the roof leaks. We need to save this building for the people of Eutaw.” On a roll call vote, the contract was approved unanimously 6-0 by the City Council.
The Eutaw City Council also approved a renewal of their agreement with Mason and Gardner CPA’s for payroll and other accounting services for the current year. The Council also approved a resolution declaring two police vehicles, a 2019 Silverado Chevrolet truck and a 2013 Chevrolet Caprice, as surplus, so they can be sold.
The Council also received a copy of a letter to the Greene County Water and Sewer Authority setting out a charge for water from the city water system. “We have provided water to the county at no charge, but in the future, we will have to charge for water, based on the volume they use. This is all part of our program to revitalize and improve the Eutaw-Boligee Water System,” said Corey Martin, Eutaw Water System Operator.
The Council also received and approved a resolution consenting to the purchase of Sky Cable, a local television provider, by Charter Communications. Charter also assumed the franchise rights of the cable company. Knowledgeable observers feel this move is related to Charter’s announced plans to provide broadband services in Greene County.The Council approved a series of travel and per diem requests for the council members and staff to attend various training sessions in the coming months including the Alabama League of Municipalities Annual Convention on May 10-13, 2023, in Birmingham.
William Smith, new Assistant Chief of the Eutaw Police Department was introduced to the Council and the public.
The City Council approved payment of bills and claims for the month of December. Ralph Liverman, City financial adviser gave the Council a partial financial report and said more details would be available at the next meeting. He also informed the Council that the annual payment of $102,218 had been made to USDA Rural Development for the loan for water system improvements.
Mayor Johnson announced several upcoming meetings to review the plans for the Eutaw-Boligee Water and Sewer System. There will be a Special City Council meeting to review and approve the plans on January 17, 2023; there will also be two public meetings on February 7 at 5:00 PM and 5:30 PM at Eutaw City Hall for the public to review and comment on the plans. These meeting are advertised in more detail in other parts of this newspaper.
A letter from Chris Jones, Executive Director of the Greene County Emergency Medical Services, was read praising the city for its work to clean up the streets and neighborhoods after the recent tornado. Jones said the city helped make the streets passable for emergency vehicles, like those of the ambulance service.

City of Eutaw receives $5.6 million for water and sewer improvements, first installment of a multiyear commitment to update Eutaw-Boligee joint system

Shown L to R: Greene Commission Chairman Corey Cockrell, Mayor of Boligee Hattie Samuels, Mayor of Eutaw Latasha Johnson, Councilwoman Valerie Watkins, Corey Martin, City of Eutaw Water Operator, and Pro Tem James Morrow

On Friday, December 2, 2022, the City of Eutaw held a press conference to announce receipt of grant of $5.6 million, $2.6 for drinking water and $3 million for sewage, from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) State Revolving Loan Fund.

This will allow the City of Eutaw to proceed with water and wastewater system improvements for the unified Eutaw and Boligee water and wastewater systems.

This funding, which is a grant with no matching fund requirements, was made possible with funding from the Biden Administration initiatives,
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Congresswoman Terri Sewell was instrumental in urging the state to use these Federal funds to benefit projects in the rural Black Belt counties within her Congressional District. Sewell was the only member of the Alabama delegation that voted in favor of this legislation in the past year.

The $5.6 million is the first installment of additional funding to be provided over the next three to five years for improvement of the joint Eutaw and Boligee water and sewage systems. This system also provides services to the Crossroads of America Industrial Park at Boligee.

Mayor Latasha Johnson expressed thanks to the many persons and agencies that made the project possible including Congresswoman Terri Sewell, John Laney and Jim Graciano of ADEM and project engineer, Angela Henline of Cassidy Company in Tuscaloosa, who will be designing the project.

Corey Martin, City of Eutaw Water Operator, said, “The first part of the project will be to renovate and replace six lift stations which move sewage back to the lagoon in Eutaw. The second priority involves bringing the Boligee water tower back on line to relieve water quality and pressure issues. We do not know all the problems with the system and how they will be addressed until our engineer makes her official assessment and design plans for repairs.”

Mayor Hattie Samuels of Boligee, commented, “The Town of Boligee
Local funds were being drained to make constant repairs in the water and sewage systems. This is truly a blessing – to receive these grant funds to give our residents a better quality of life.”

Mayor Samuels read from a statement sent by Congresswoman Terri Sewell, which said,” This is GREAT news! For too long, Alabama’s rural communities have suffered from failing wastewater systems that have put the health and well-being of our residents at risk.

“Access to clean water and adequate wastewater infrastructure is a basic human right, and thus funding for the City of Eutaw will be instrumental as we work to end this crisis.

“I am proud to have voted I favor of both the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the American Rescue Plan, which made these grants possible. I will continue to fight for more of these critical investments across Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.”

Governor Kay Ivey sent a message, which was read Greene County Commission Chair, Corey Cockrell, stating “In Alabama, we believe in helping our neighbors, and that exactly what the city of Eutaw and the city of Boligee are doing here. I’m proud to see both cities come together and strike a mutually beneficial compromise that will go a long way to improving the quality of life for the residents of each community.”

Eutaw City Council reviews finances;
makes board appointments

The Eutaw City Council met on Monday, November 7, 2022 for its regular first meeting of the month. The meeting was held on Monday because the second Tuesday was an election day.

The Council held an announced public hearing  at the start of the meeting to approve a resolution to vacate a city owned easement for an alley on the old Family Dollar property on Greensboro Avenue. City Attorney, Zane Willingham, explained that there is a possibility that the property will be used for a Jack’s Restaurant franchise and that the alley needed to be officially removed, so as not to be a barrier to attracting the business to the city.

Ralph Liverman, Financial Adviser, reported that the city’s financial records for the past fiscal year, ending September 30, 2022 had been completed and were ready to be transmitted to the auditors. He also reported that for the month of October 2022, the records showed that sales taxes and other revenues, exceed the 8.25% monthly projection and that most expenses were in line with the proposed budget.

Financial reports on the month of October for the General Fund, USDA Loan Payment and Reserve Accounts and the Utility Revenue Collections and transfers, were presented to the Council for their information. The annual payment to USDA on the current water system loan is due at the end of the calendar year. The reports show funds available for the payment and the accumulation of proper reserves for major repairs to the system.

The Council appointed Carrie Logan on the Eutaw Historic Preservation Board, to replace Diana Liverman, who resigned. The Council appointed Jim Logan to replace Rev. James Carter, who passed away, on the Eutaw Airport Board. The Council tabled the replacement of Rodney Wesley to the Greene County EMS Board, representing the city. He has resigned the position.

The Council heard a report from Corey Martin, City Water and Sewer Operator. Martin said the city was developing a plan to deal with a large pile of debris at the City Landfill. The city can no long burn materials it collects and must develop a plan for disposal of the materials in other landfills.

Martin reported that the city had replaced valves on tanks and made numerous repairs to leaks in the water lines which reduced water loss on a monthly basis from 70% in July to 34.3% in October. The city water and sewer lines have been mapped which will help in making repairs and determining the classification and need for additional fire hydrants.

The Council approved payment of all bills and claims and agreed to pay a scheduled employee bonus from American Rescue Plan Act funds with the next payroll on December 2, 2022, instead of waiting until the end of the year.

Eutaw City Council considers financial matters

The Eutaw City Council held its regular meeting on September 27, 2022 and considered a number of financial issues. The Council members received several financial reports, as informational materials.

The City is approaching the end of the 2021-22 fiscal year on September 30, 2022 and had reports through the end of August. The Council set a date of October 4th for a work session on the budget for next fiscal year. This session was postponed to a later date.

City Fiscal Advisor, Ralph Liverman, is working on a budget for the fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2022, and plans to review its contents and decisions on which infrastructure projects the city can undertake, based on available funds.
The Council approved the 2023 Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday for February 24-26, 2023, where people will be able to buy supplies, like batteries, radios, and other items without paying sales tax on that weekend next year.

The Council approved an agreement with Regions Commercial Credit division for credit cards for staff and council members. Mayor Latasha Johnson will control this account and can place money on the cards of City employees traveling to training meetings and to purchase supplies needed by the city. Some Council members voiced concerns about the problems associated with unauthorized use of credit cards. Mayor Johnson said she would closely supervise the use of these cards but that this system would give flexibility and emergency help to staff and Council members involved in city business.

The Council approved a request from Corey Martin, City Water Operator to secure bids in advance for mechanical services, such as pump repairs, motor rebuilding and other parts and services need by the water and sewer system. “Having a list of suppliers and service providers, at an agreed upon price in advance, would allow our city to better manage resources for repairs when they are needed, instead of facing these decisions on an emergency basis,” said Martin.

Mayor Latasha Johnson reported that the City of Eutaw and the Town of Boligee had both signed the agreement to consolidate their water and sewer systems. The Cassady Engineering firm of Northport, Alabama is working on comprehensive plans for the improvement of the water and sewer systems of Eutaw and Boligee for submission to ADEM for funding under the American Recovery Act, Infrastructure Act, and the Inflation Recovery Act. The preliminary plans and cost estimates are due by the end of October and will spell out a multi-million-dollar plan for phasing in the full repair and improvement of the Eutaw/Boligee water and sewer systems.

The Greene County Water and Sewer Authority has been approved for improvements to its water and sewer system. The funds will provide for a new water well on the northern end of the county and improvements to the sewage lagoon near Greenetrack.

In other business, the Eutaw City Council:

• Approved travel and per diem for Corey Martin to attend training in utility management and technology in late October.
• Approve use of the R. H. Young Community Center for the funeral and repast for the Austin family on October 1, 2022, for a charge of $50 per hour.
•Tabled consideration of an agreement for operation and maintenance of traffic control signals and lighting in the city; and a Memorandum of Agreement with City and Greene County EMA.
• Payment of bills and claims.

Eutaw City Council continues to improve water system management; extends mask requirements for another 30 days

The Eutaw City Council met for its regular meeting on May 25, 2021. Mayor Latasha Johnson, all Council members and the City Clerk and Assistant Clerk were present. After approval of the past minutes, the Council approved extending its mask mandate for 30 more days until the Council last meeting, on the fourth Tuesday in June. This mask mandate is an additional protection for people who have not been vaccinated yet for the coronavirus. The CDC has recommended that people who have been vaccinated do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings and only need to wear a mask indoors when there are large crowds, like at a sports stadium. Persons who have not been vaccinated are urge to continue wearing masks in all settings until they are vaccinated. The Council approved a spending limit for the mayor to sign checks up to $5,000 between meetings for emergency purposes. The Council also authorized a credit card for her to use to make necessary purchases. The $5.000 emergency spending limit applies to both checks and credit card purchases, added together for use to handle emergency needs between meetings. The Council heard a report from Corey Martin, Certified Water Operator that he was continuing to make improvements in the city water system. 90 accounts of persons owing more than $500 were disconnected for non- payment. Martin says about half of these persons started paying and had water services restored. In April there were 661 accounts owing $223,602 and by the May 25 meeting there were only 233 accounts owing $97,088. Over one hundred accounts were closed due to vacancies (people moving away), final bills and inactive accounts. In the six-month period from October 1 through May 25, the City Water Department took in $772,853 from current and past due water customers. This compares with total revenue from water of $585,592 for the entire past fiscal year. Mayor Johnson announced that Corey Martin had passed the state examination to be a certified sewer operator to add to his water credentials.The Council heard a report from Ralph Liverman, financial consultant that would rename prior bank accounts for new purposes and open new accounts as needed for city business. He recommended that all payments for water, sewer and garbage be deposited in a Utility Collection Account. Then the water funds be placed in a Water Account, sewer funds in a sewer account and garbage funds in the General Funds Account. Liverman also suggested a new Water Tank Maintenance account for accumulating funds for water tank repairs and repainting since the City discontinued its contract with the Suez Construction Company for tank maintenance. Councilwomen Valerie Watkins moved to table these banking account changes until a working session at which the requested changes could be thoroughly explained so all the council members would understand the changes. This motion to table was approved. In other business, the Eutaw City Council:

• Approved window tinting, stripping, radios and radar equipment for new police cars purchased by the city for the Police Department.

• Approved placing the names of the Mayor and Police Chief on record for a Safety Deposit Box for the City in Merchants and Farmers Bank, to hold certain valuable items for the city in the course of official business.

• Approved transfer of funds from the Eutaw Airport Grant Account to the Eutaw Airport Authority, so they can be used in the enhancement and re-opening of the airport for commercial use.

• Approved use of the Robert H. Young Civic Center (old Carver School) for a Walgreen’s and 100 Black Women of Tuscaloosa sponsored COVID-19 vaccination drive on June 7 and 17, 2021. • Approved the use of Merchants and Farmers Bank for check drafting. •

Approved participation in a summer training conference for the Chief of Police. The Council had a discussion about payment of bills and then approved payment of all bills recommended for payment by the Mayor and City Clerks. The mayor said that she had scheduled a meeting with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to discuss and negotiate the funds owed for back taxes, interest and penalties to satisfy a lien placed against the City by IRS. “ I am determined to pay off this IRS lien and I will use the Special Branch Heights Road Fund monies, generated from bingo, since we have repaired the roads in Branch Heights with other funds and we need to pay off this lien,” said Mayor Johnson.

Eutaw City Council approves Water Operations and Policy Manual; First Responders Parade for June 17

The Eutaw City Council met for its regular meeting on May 11, following a detailed work session on May 7 and adopted a City Utility Operations Policy and Procedure Manual. Corey Martin, City of Eutaw Certified Water Operator presented the Council with the fifty-page manual spelling out in detail the policies and operations of the water, sewer and garbage collection systems for the City of Eutaw. Martin explained that the manual was a living document explaining how the city utility departments would operate, deal with the public and report to state and Federal regulatory authorities. Martin asked the City Council to approve May 17 as the “cut off date” to begin shutting off water to customers that have not paid on outstanding water bills. At its December meeting, the Eutaw City Council approved a five-month period for people to settle outstanding unpaid water bills. The Mayor and Water Department were allowed to negotiate with customers to reduce past balances down by as much as 80%, to 20% of past due balance, provided that the customer worked out a payment arrangement on the reduced past-due balance and kept new monthly payments current. Martin said the City agreed to these payment agreements in good faith and as a way to clear up past indebtedness and get the system’s billing up to date. Some people came in and signed agreements to pay outstanding water bills, which included charges for sewer and garbage collection. Other customers did not. Some customers who signed agreements and got their past due balances reduced did not pay on their agreements. Martin asked the City to approve May 17 as the date to begin cutting off water to those who did not make agreements to pay back balances or did not honor their agreements. “We have sent people notification letters of their overdue balances and told them that a cut off day is coming if they do not pay. We will start on May 17, to shut off water to those with the highest outstanding balances,” said Martin. The City Council approved the utility shut off payment deadline of May 17, 2021. Eutaw Chief of Police, Tommy Johnson asked the City Council to endorse and support a First Responders Parade in Eutaw on Thursday, June 17, 2021 at 1:00 PM. Chief Johnson has invited first responders from neighboring communities including: Livingston, York, Greensboro, Moundville, Aliceville, Pickensville, Demopolis, Linden, Tuscaloosa and others to join Eutaw and Greene County first responders on that day as a tribute to their work during the pandemic and year-round. Johnson said, “ I want to show the residents that we are not just interested in putting people in jail but to contribute to the community and celebrate our neighboring first responders.” In other business, the Eutaw City Council:

• Approved on-line payments for City Clerk, Municipal Court and Police Department; in addition to the Water Department which previously had been approved for and is receiving on-line payments.

• Approved the 2021 CCR – Water Department Report for submission to ADEM.

• Approved cancellation of contract with SUEZ/Utility Service for servicing and painting the city’s water wells and water towers. This contract for over $5,000 a month will be replaced by a monthly contribution to a reserve fund for well service and maintenance expenses.

• Approved a resolution re-naming bank accounts for the repayment of the USDA Rural Development Loan for the water system.

• Approved a resolution to name new City Clerk, ShaKelvia Spencer to all city bank accounts and the removal of former Clerk, Kathy Bir, from those accounts.

• Approval of a resolution naming Chief Tommy Johnson as a signatory on the DARE’s bank account.

• Approved a plan by the T. S. Police League to employ young people for the summer to assist the city; and allow the T. S. Police League to use the Carver School gymnasium to screen and train youth for the summer program.

• Received a report from Mayor Latasha Johnson on her work with the County Commission and Industrial Development Authority for a feasibility study for a new hotel to be built, near the Love’s Truckstop at Exit 40 on the Interstate. The GCIDA is contracting for the study, which will cost approximately $10,000, with the expense to be split by the three involved entities. The feasibility study is needed to attract investors and a hospitality company to build a new facility in Greene County.

• Received a report from City Engineer Babbs on the GIS mapping project for underground utilities and his work to review and revise the ordinance for building codes and building permits, which will be submitted to the Council for future approval. •Agreed to pay bills as submitted by the Mayor.

Eutaw City Council deals with water, budget and street repairs

At its regular meeting on February 23, 2021, the Eutaw City Council continued grappling with problems of the water system, street repairs and assembling a budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which began October 1, 2020.
The Council heard from Corey Martin, the full time Water System Operator, recently hired to help supervise and correct the physical and billing problems of the Eutaw city water system. Martin reported that for the four months, October 2020 to January 2021, the city was pumping 30 million gallons of water a month but only billing for thirty per cent of this amount. There was a 70% loss to leaks, incorrect billing, meters not working properly and not reporting properly to the computer billing system and pother problems.
Martin stated his job was to work together with Terry Tyson, an engineering consultant retained by the City to audit the water meters, and the Water Department staff to correct leaks, faulty water meters, missing water meters, water meters that are not properly tied into the computerized billing system. Martin said, “We have 1,400 water customers and we will visit every meter, correct the problems and should have the system working correctly in two to three months.”
Martin as a certified water operator will also be able to do monthly sampling for testing the city’s water for quality and environmental contamination required by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). This will avoid compliance issues that Eutaw has experienced recently. Water customers received a letter concerning compliance with testing requirements this past summer, which has now been corrected.
Attorney Ralph Liverman, financial consultant to the City Council presented members with his third draft budget for the City, which details projected revenues and expenses for six city funds including: The General Fund, Water and Sewer Fund, 7-Cent Gas Tax Fund, 4-Cent Gas Tax Fund, Special Street Fund, and a Capital Improvements Fund, which account for $3.5 million a year. The Council agreed to hold a Work Session on March 3rd to review and discuss this budget in more detail. It should be noted that Mayor Latasha Johnson made a campaign promise to develop a budget for the City, which did not have one for many years. Mayor Johnson reported on the Streetscape grant (TAPNU-TAI) for the City from the Alabama Department of Transportation. The grant provides $640,000 in Federal funds and $160,000 in local matching, plus local responsibility for engineering cost, for repairs to the sidewalks, railings, lighting and landscaping of the outside of the Thomas Gilmore Square surrounding the historic old Courthouse in downtown Eutaw. There is a separate project for repairing the inside sidewalk of the Square.
The City of Eutaw, Greene County Commission and the Greene County Industrial Development Authority agreed to share in providing the $240,000 in matching funds and engineering for this project. The project has been delayed by the State Historical Commission review which questioned if the project would conform to the city’s designation under the National Historic Register. The project engineer has resolved the issue with the Historical Commission and the project can go forward, however, the city will be required to update its registration with the National Historic Registry, which may cost an additional $20 to $30,000 to complete. The Council voted to approve the expenditure of funds to update the National Historic Registry.
The Council approved the rental agreements for the CFRD and Liberty Tax for rental of space in the Robert H. Young Community Center, formerly the Carver Middle School. The Council also approved re-opening the Fitness Center in the Robert H. Young Community Center for a $20 a month membership fee and compliance with COVID-19 health guidelines and an insurance liability waiver by persons wishing to use the athletic equipment. The equipment was donated by Auburn Extension Services in past years to improve the health and fitness of community residents. A staff person was recently employed to take care of the facility who will also help to monitor the Fitness Center.
Tammy Holley of West Alabama Works, a workforce development agency, made a presentation of some of the services her agency offers and requested a longer session with the council to fully explain the services of her agency. The Council agreed to her request at a future work session, to be scheduled.
In other business, the Eutaw City Council:
• Approved a resolution to provide the Mayor and Mayor Pro Temp access to all the city’s email accounts and passwords to handle business in the absence of city employees.
• Approved the solicitation of bids to resurface the City’s portion of the Lower Gainesville Road and Choctaw Road.
• Heard concerns from Council member Valerie Watkins for the installation of speed bumps on Roebuck Avenue to protect children in the area.
• Received a report from Mayor Johnson that the Police Department has set up a sub-station in King Village and is looking for female officers to augment its staff of 9 fulltime and 2 part-time officers overall.