Eutaw City Council continues discussion of Housing Authority appointments, water and street improvements

Benison & Chief

Officer Jimmie Benison and Police Chief Derick Coleman


At its March 14, 2017 meeting, the Eutaw City Council reaffirmed the appointment of three members: Jackie Allen (resident representative replacing LaTasha Johnson), Bertha Hunter and Mary Wray to the Eutaw Housing Authority.
Mayor Raymond Steele says he is following the statutes of Alabama, which empower the Mayor to name members of the Housing Authority Board of Directors, communicate his selections to the Council and have the notification recorded in the minutes.
Steele says he appointed new members to replace those appointed by former Mayor Hattie Edwards because her appointments were made in the waning days of her term and never recorded in the city council’s minutes. Due to a lack of a quorum, the last council meeting of Edwards’s term, near the end of October 2016 was never held, so her appointments were never officially recorded in the minutes.
The composition of the Eutaw Housing Authority Board is important to the continuing negotiations over merging the Eutaw and County Housing Authority boards and staffs which has been mandated by HUD, which funds both authorities.
Mayor Steele contends that since all of the public housing units are now in the city of Eutaw, that under the law he has sole discretion to appoint members of the merged authority. The Greene County Commission disputes this and wants an amalgamated board with appointments by both the city and the county. The districts of three of the Commissioners, Districts 1, 2 and 3, have constituents within the city of Eutaw.

Other municipalities within Greene County – Forkland, Boligee and Union are also interested in public housing development and desire consideration by the merged housing authority board. Mayor Steele says these towns can contract with the merged board for support and development of units if they have suitable land with the required water and sewer services.
The Eutaw City Council has through its Attorney, Ken Aycock, requested a State Attorney General’s opinion on the laws governing housing authorities and the selection of board members for the merged entity.
The Council also approved a motion suggested by Councilman Joe L. Powell that the Council not incurs any legal costs for defending its member selections to the Eutaw Housing Authority Board until the Attorney General’s opinion is received and permission is granted by the Council to pursue legal actions. This motion was approved over the Mayor’s objections.
Mayor Steele also gave a report on projects underway in the city. He stated that the water project was moving forward with installation of the new lines on Mesopotamia Street; a six inch water line will be extended to the Lock 7 Road; and work on constructing a new tank to replace the one behind City Hall, will begin soon. Soft wear to read new digital self-reporting water meters has been purchased and the installation of these new meters is among the remaining work to be done to complete the USDA sponsored water improvement project.
Steele also said work was done to patch roads in Branch Heights but the full repair and resurfacing of those roads would cost $1.8 million. He said he was working with grant writers to seek funding for this work from ALDOT and the Delta Regional Authority. He also said that the Prairie Avenue Project was almost complete with the exception of striping for parking.
After the Mayor’s report, several Council members advanced road and drainage projects in their districts, which needed immediate attention. The Council approved the payment of bills and claims for the month of February.
Police Chief, Derick Coleman, introduced Jimmie Benison, former Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy as a new police officer on the city police force.

Eutaw City Council approves formal resolution accepting Branch Heights roads


Chief Derick Coleman and new officer Patrick Shearry.


At its regular meeting on December 13, 2016, the Eutaw City Council approved a resolution accepting the streets within Branch Heights for city maintenance.
The resolution discusses the history of problems with repairs to the streets and roadways in the Branch Heights Subdivision, a predominantly Black housing area that was built with HUD funds through the Greene County Housing Authority. The subdivision is named for the first Black Probate Judge of Greene County. Some of the houses have been sold to individual families after the family had occupied them for at least 15 years.
In 2004, Branch Heights was annexed into the City of Eutaw and the city has made some repairs to the streets on an “as needed” and “as funds were available” basis without formally accepting responsibility for the streets.
This resolution officially accepts the streets in the William Mckinley Branch Heights subdivision for city ownership and maintenance and pledges to seek funds for the repair of the streets. The resolution lists the streets to be maintained as including the following:
– William McKinley Branch Drive
– Joseph Wilder Circle
– John Chambers Court
– Vassie Knott Court
– Howard Irvin Drive
– Office Lane
– Levi Morrow Sr. Court
– Harry Means Court
– Frenchie Burton Road
– Howard Brown Court
– Joseph Court
Many of these streets were named for pioneering Black members of the Greene County Commission and Greene County Housing Authority.
In other business, the Eutaw City Council:
• approved payment of November claims and bills;
• heard a report that Mason and Gardner, CPA’s were updating the city computer system to handle the digital self-reporting water meters;
• were introduced to new police officer, Patrick Shearry, of Scoba, Mississippi, who has completed officer training; and told by Chief Coleman that two other officers: Marlo Jackson and Tommie Johnson Jr. are planning to attend the police academy training in Tuscaloosa;
• approved travel for Councilman Joe L. Powell to attend a committee meeting of the Alabama League of Municipalities
• deferred the December 27, 2016 meeting due to the holidays; and set December 23 and 26 and January 2 as official holidays.
Mayor Steele reported that the city employees were working to fix leaks in the water system to increase water pressure for the system. Work will soon be starting on the major $3.1 million approved USDA Rural Development water project. The Mayor also announced that work was about to begin on the resurfacing of Prairie Avenue.
Council members reported problems with street lights on Springfield Avenue and the need to remove a dilapidated house on Tuscaloosa Street adjacent to the Eutaw Elderly Village.
Councilwoman Sheila Smith asked about the policies on vicious dogs. She was told by the Mayor and Chief of Police that vicious animals, like Rottweilers, Pit Bulls and Doberman Pinchers had to be identified and secured by their owners to prevent attacking and biting people. “Stray dogs in Eutaw, have always been a problem and we have to pay animal control from Tuscaloosa to round them up and carry them away, “ said Chief Coleman. Smith said, “ I hope this policy on vicious dogs is being carried out because people have been bitten and intimidated by dogs in recent days.”