Eutaw City Council accepts $372,425 grant from DRA for sewage connection for truck stop site

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, the Eutaw City Council approved a resolution accepting a $372,425 grant from the Delta Regional Authority for a project to extend the city sewage to a site at Exit 40 on Interstate 59/20. Love’s Truck Stop has agreed to construct a full service truck stop with parking for 87 trucks, a convenience store and two fast-food franchises at the site. Love’s Truck Stop estimates that the facility will provide 43 jobs when it is in full operation. The City of Eutaw agreed to extend sewage to the site as a condition for Love’s to bring its facility to the city. The sewage line is estimated to cost $900,000 including required lift stations. Thus far, the City of Eutaw has secured a $400,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and this grant of $372,425 from DRA, A Federal-State compact serving the Mississippi Delta and Alabama Black Belt region. This is a total of $772,425 in grants pledged towards the cost of the sewage project. The Greene County Industrial Development Authority has pledged to raise or provide as a loan the balance of the funds needed to complete the sewage line extension and secure location and development of the truck stop at Exit 40 on the Interstate. “We have been trying to get this project for a long time and I am pleased that we have secured the funds necessary to bring City sewage services to the site. We appreciate the confidence of the Love’s Truck Stop organization in the City of Eutaw and Greene County. WE feel this is only the beginning of the development of the Exit 40 Interstate exit,” said Mayor Raymond Steele. The City Council also passed a resolution to set up a bank account for the Love’s Project with the Mayor, Councilmen Joe Lee Powell and LaJeffrey Carpenter as signatories. In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:

• approved a name change to Eutaw Quick Food Mart from West End Grocery for an off-premises beer and wine permit; • approved travel for Council members Joe Powell and Sheila H. Smith to attend the 2018 Municipal Leadership Institute and Graduation in Prattville on October 4, 2018; • agreed to review and make changes to the City Personnel Handbook beginning at the next City Council work session; • changed signatories on the City Operating Account by removing Mayor Steele and the Water Clerk, leaving Councilman Joe Lee Powell and adding Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter; • required all city vehicles to have municipal tags by September 11, 2018 or be parked; several city vehicles including an SUV driven by the Mayor currently have ‘undercover tags’.

Public Comment Period yields discussions on disagreement in the City

In the public comments section of the meeting, numerous citizens of the Cityof Eutaw urged the Mayor and City Council members to work together. Sarah Duncan, long time civil rights and community worker said, “I am tired of reading in the papers and seeing here today that the Mayor and the City Council are not in agreement. I urge you to work together in the interest of the people of Eutaw.” Matthew Williams urged, “The Mayor and the City Council to communicate with each other and work together.” Monty White of Fishburne Avenue raised some issues of drainage saying he had been trying to get resolved since July. The Mayor said that some of the problem was on private property and that the City was not responsible for all problems. Sarah Nickson asked, “Why did I get a water bill with zero usage and then have to pay $70. Something is wrong in the water department. Do you have a budget? Can you explain where the town’s money is going? The Council and the Mayor must work together to solve these urgent problems.” Five members of the City of Eutaw Police Department, in full uniforms and armed said they were concerned about crimes in the city of illegal guns and drugs. “ We want to do our jobs to protect the citizens but when we arrest someone for illegal acts, they said that they will raise a complaint with the City Council and sometimes they say Council members are their relatives. We want to do our jobs but the Mayor and the Council must back us up.” The Mayor said he supported the police and that “It is very serious when the City Council interferes in the day-to-day work of the police and the Mayor.” Councilwoman Latasha Johnson said, “There are two sides to every story including this issue with the police. We need to hear both sides.” The meeting ended without real clarity on how to resolve these issues and how the Mayor, the Council and the residents will come together to solve these festering problems. Our newspaper invites your comments and letters on how we resolve this difference and move forward in a positive and progressive manner.

Eutaw City Council approves applications for $872,425 to provide sewer connection to proposed Love’s Truck Stop location at Exit 40

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

At its regular meeting on May 22, 2018, the Eutaw City Council approved resolutions to apply for $872,425 to connect the City’s sewer services on Highway 14 (Mesopotamia Street) to a site near the Exit 40 interchange the Interstate 20/59.
Love’s Truck Stop proposes to build on a 13.9-acre site adjacent to the Interstate at the 40-mile marker exit. The site will have a fueling station, a convenience store, two fast food outlets (Hardees and Godfather’s Pizza), parking for 87 trucks and other related amenities to serve heavily traveled Interstate.
The truck stop is proposed to employ 43 people when operational, at least half of whom will be people who were previously low income. The business will also generate significant sales and gas tax revenues for state and local entities.
The resolutions were presented to the City Council by Ms. Cory Johnson, grant developer with the West Alabama Regional Commission in Tuscaloosa, which is assisting the City of Eutaw with this sewer project.
The Council approved a resolution to seek a grant of $400,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Alabama Department of Community Affairs (ADECA). This grant is based on the projection that the new business will create 43 new jobs.
The Council also approved a resolution to seek a grant of $372,425 from Delta Regional Authority to match the CDBG funding. The City of Eutaw will have to provide the remaining $100,000 in matching funds.

The City may be able to borrow these funds and make repayment from projected sales and gas tax revenues generated by the truck stop.
The funds will be used to provide a 1.5 miles sewer line extension from an existing manhole located near the intersection of Hook Avenue and Mesopotamia Street (aka AL Hwy 14) proceeding north to Interstate 20/59
(Exit 40) to serve the new Love’s Travel Stop. The improvements include a combination of force main and gravity sewer line, one road bore and a new lift station.
Mayor Steele advised the City Council that the engineering firm of Godwyn, Mills and Cahill of Montgomery, Alabama, that completed the City’s recent water project, was working on plans and specifications for the sewer system extension. The Mayor estimated 2 to 3 months for the final designs to be available for bidding the project. The truck stop also needs several other permits from the Alabama Department of construction of the truck stop can begin.
The City Council also adopted several other resolutions, which were required as part of the application package to ADECA, these included a Fair Housing Policy, Citizens Participation Plan, Procurement Policy and Limited English Proficiency Plan. These are standard procedures required for any state and Federal grant funding.
At the recommendation of Police Chief, Derrick Coleman, the City Council approved hiring of Kendrick Barnes as a new police officer. Barnes had experience working in Pickens County and was certified as a police officer. Two other potential officers are going through the Police Academy in Tuscaloosa.
The Council agreed to impose a rental fee of $300 to all groups using the Civic Center (formerly the National Guard Armory) whether they were for-profit or non-profit organizations. Mayor Steele said, “Our budget will not allow us to provide the facilities for free. We have to cover the costs of utilities, maintenance and repairs on our buildings.” The resolution was approved by a 5 to 1 vote, with Councilwoman Latasha Johnson as the only dissenter.
In it’s March 8th. Meeting the City Council approved its Municipal Water Pollution Annual Report and agreed to rename a portion of Prairie Avenue south of the railroad tracks to Highway 43 as “ Bo Scarborough Avenue” to honor the University of Alabama football player with family roots in Greene County.