Former Greene County Commissioner Edna Chambers honored with special salute: It’s Your Time

Shown above Joe Chambers, Cathelean Steele, Edna Chambers and Dr. Charles Steele.

Mrs. Edna Chambers, the first African American female to serve on the Greene County Commission, was honored for her outstanding community work at a special program entitled, It’s Your Time, held June 15, 2019 at the Eutaw Activity Center. Mrs. Chambers is noted as a trailblazer, civil rights activists and humanitarian in Greene County and throughout the state of Alabama.
Chambers, representing District 1, served two terms on the Greene County Commission between 1998- 2004. Johnnie M. Knott, served at the Mistress of Ceremony. Mrs. Chambers was escorted by her son, Joe Chambers and grandson Ivory Chambers, Jr.
Commissioner Lester “Bop” Brown delivered the history of her political career. Brown stated that due to a federal indictment at that time, he could not seek political office so he contacted Mrs. Chambers. He revealed that he asked her to run for the District 1 seat and before she could say anything he encouraged her to think about it and hung up the phone.
Brown further explained that not only did Mrs. Chambers win the position, she ran and won by a landslide. Her platform was honest government, dedicated service and commitment to try and lift falling humanity. Her interest in Greene County’s welfare goes beyond politics. Mrs. Chambers often stated, “I want to work for all the people without regard to race, color, sex or creed.”
Prior to running for office, Mrs. Chambers had just retired from the Greene County Health Department as a home health care employee. She and her husband for many years operated a small community grocery store. She was also a licensed agent with Primerica Insurance Company.
In her capacity as a community leader, Mrs. Chambers helped and assisted with the following: Camp Montgomery, Knoxville Volunteer Fire Department, Montgomery Recreation Center and the USDA Commodity Distribution. She is also an active member of the Greene County Chapter of Alabama New South Coalition.
Mrs. Chambers attends Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Knoxville. Her pastor, Rev. Robert Ellis, was on hand to provide words of encouragement and blessing of the food. She is the mother of two children Joe and Ivory. Ivory, her eldest child, died in 1997.
The theme for Edna Chamber’s Day, It’s Your Time, was echoed throughout the event with musical selections presented by the Greene County Mass Choir.
Mrs. Cathelean Steele introduced her husband, the guest speaker, stating that Mrs. Chambers played matchmaker for them. Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. President /CEO of National SCLC served as guest speaker. Steele stated that although he has traveled to many countries around the world, he will never forget that he is a product of Greene County.
Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele thanked Mrs. Chamber for being a trailblazer for not just for women but for all of us. A resolution was presented by the Greene County Sheriff Department.
Other program participants included: Scripture reading by Minister Johnnie Chambers Sankey; Prayer by Rev. Michael Billingsley; Welcome/Greeting by Mary Beck and Carolyn Beck; Occasion by Mary Harris and Lester Brown; Musical Tribute by Antonio Pearson and Samoria Beck.Various family members and friends shared stories of inspiration and appreciation in how Mrs. Chambers touched their lives. Many spoke of Mrs. Chambers as a quiet, seemingly low-keyed person, but when she spoke, everyone knew exactly what her position was and what actions she would take.
Mrs. Chambers thanked everyone for coming out and showing her love and she thanked the Lord for his many blessings.

Eutaw Mayor and City Council reach political logjam

News Analysis
By John Zippert, Co-Publisher

Last night’s regular Eutaw City Council meeting was convened by Mayor Raymond Steele at 6:00 PM. The City Council added an Executive Session to a very limited agenda.
After the ten minute Executive Session, the Council reconvened but could not pass a motion to come back into regular session. The meeting was adjourned after taking no actions at 6:20 PM.
I attend the City Council meetings on a regular basis. I attended the April 9 meeting and the City Council Work Session on April 16, 2019 but did not write a story on these meetings because there was so much division and discord between the Mayor and Council that I did not want to report. I had hopes that some of these issues would be resolved in a positive manner and some compromise actions would be taken at last night’s meeting.
I am sad to report as a resident of the City of Eutaw that the meeting ended without resolution of on-going issues and without moving forward on some critical issues and concerns.
There seems to be a lack of communication between Mayor Steele and most Councilmembers that could lead to some compromise and resolution of outstanding issues. I think it is fair to say the Mayor and Council are at loggerheads or in a political logjam that they must work to resolve.
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson says, “The Mayor will not communicate with us, will not give us information about the city’s finances that we are supposed to have and expects us to go along with anything he does. If he consulted with us and discussed these things, I am sure we could come to some fair resolution and conclusions.”
Johnson and other council members have been asking for a current statement of income and expenses for the city, a budget listing how revenues will be expended, a detailed listing of bills that have been paid and are owed. “We basically have received none of these financial reports, so we do not know where we stand and how to make decisions going forward.” she said. Mayor Steele says, “ We know that the City does not have a large enough tax base to pay all bills. We pay the bills as best we can to keep the city operating. I have the responsibility to make day-to-day administrative decisions and I am trying my best to do that. The records and information that council members are requesting are available to them if they come to City Hall and request it from the City Clerk.”
In a March meeting, the Council passed a resolution to remove the Mayor as a check signatory on most city accounts, as a way to put controls on his ability to spend city funds without Council knowledge or approval. The Mayor says, “This is unfair. This prevents me from carrying out my day to day responsibilities and the Council has given no reason to remove me as a signatory.” The Mayor has not brought the official bank resolutions to the City Council, after being asked in several meetings, including the April 16 Work Session.
The Council has passed several other resolutions, including one to declare a shed vacant on the grounds of the former National Guard Armory to rent to a church non-profit for storage for its surplus furniture service; a resolution not to accept cash for payment at the City’s water department; and a resolution to revisit the cost of utilizing city facilities by community groups. The Mayor has not brought these items back for consideration and implementation by the City Council. They were not listed on last night’s agenda despite being requested at the April 16 Work Session, which was part of the reason the Councilmembers were so displeased with the Mayor.
Councilwoman Sheila Smith says, “ We have been requesting information on the revenues for the City Water Department for months. Some people are paying too much; others get minimum bills month after month. There is something wrong with the new water meters and the softwear used to read the meters and make out the bills. But the Mayor says everything is fine but does not give us the financial reports to show that revenues for the Water Department are below what is needed to operate the system and service our debts.”
Councilman Joe Lee Powell says, “ I am concerned about the way the Mayor is running the City. This is not a dictatorship. The Mayor should be consulting with us on problems and providing the information we have requested. I am particularly disturbed that repairs have not been made to the sewage system in Branch Heights. It is a health hazard that sewage is backing up into people’s homes and is in their yards and ditches. People in Branch Heights pay their water and sewage bills and deserve that these problems be addressed by the City.”
Powell indicates that he asked the Mayor to put the Branch Heights sewage problems on the agenda, at the April 16 Work Session, but this item was not listed on last night’s agenda. Powell says he is concerned that he is being asked to support matching funds for a Streetscape project to improve and enhance the Courthouse Square while the Mayor ignores problems in other parts of the City.
The Council members are also upset and concerned that the Council minutes do not accurately reflect what happened at the meetings and contain commentary and notes that support the Mayor and disregard their inputs and motions.
To this observer, Mayor Steele and the Eutaw City Council are at an impasse. They must come together and put aside some of their differences, develop a financial report and budget to operate from a mutual understanding of the city’s current conditions and future prospects; communicate honestly, compromise strategically, seek help from sympathetic external supporters and work out their problems with each other, so the City of Eutaw can move forward in the interest of all of its residents.

Eutaw Mayor and City Council in disagreement on major issues

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

At Tuesday night’s meeting on March 26, 2019, Mayor Raymond Steele and the Eutaw City Council remain divided over major issues.
In response to the written agenda passed out for the meeting, Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter asked to place two additional items on the agenda, including a request for an Executive Session on a personnel issue and a follow-up to the council’s resolution on check signing.
Mayor Steele was visibly distressed and said that council members should bring their agenda suggestions to him before the meeting so that they can be reviewed and the staff can prepare a response and provide information that is needed. The Council added these items to the agenda over the Mayor’s objections.
After a short eight minute Executive Session, the Council reconvened and asked the Mayor if he had implemented a resolution they passed at the January 22, 2019 meeting, which removed the Mayor as the signatory on most city bank accounts and made Councilmembers Joe Lee Powell and LaJeffrey Carpenter along with City Clerk, Kathy Bir as the designated signatories on these accounts.
Mayor Steele said he had not implemented the change because he had not been given reasons for changing the signatories. “ I am in charge of the day to day business of the City, it is critical that the Mayor be able to sign checks. I do not have any problem with adding other signatories to the accounts. You will not tell me why you don’t want me to sign –
This is not right.”
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson asked City Attorney, Zane Willingham, to prepare written instructions for the City Council as to “what to do when the Mayor does not implement policies and actions decided and approved by the Council.” The Council in a resolution approved these instructions.
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson also indicated that the Mayor had not implemented the policy, also adopted in the January 22, 2019 meeting, that cash would not be accepted to pay water bills and other obligations to the City. Johnson said,
“Cash is still being accepted, no signs have been posted as we requested. The Mayor has decided on his own not to implement this policy on taking cash approved by the City Council.”
Councilwoman Sheila Smith questioned the Mayor about problems with the water bills. “Too many residents are paying the minimum water bill of $38.58 for residences and $58.38 for businesses. The water meters or the water meter reading system is not working properly and we are loosing money we need to pay for the water system and operate the city.”
Mayor Steele said that all of the new meters have been checked and are working properly. He said that he would review this problem again and try to find a solution.

The Council was given a detailed report on bills to be paid for the month of March. Several Councilmembers objected that they we given the information about the bills late and did not have time to study the expenditures. Payment of the bills was tabled until the next meeting to give the Council members time to review.
LaJeffrey Carpenter asked Mayor Steele why he had only re-paved the roads in Branch Heights, while the roads in King Village, Carver Circle and other parts city also needed similar repairs. The mayor in exasperation answered, “ You know we agreed to the roads in Branch Heights as a special project. We do not have enough money at this time to do all of the roads or make all of the repairs that the Council is requesting.”

The Mayor indicated that he was trying to get some disaster relief funds allocated to the City of Eutaw for street repairs since the recent rains had eroded some of the streets.

Mayor Steele said he was still working on an audit which was necessary to secure funding for new police cars and construction equipment from USDA Rural Development.
“The equipment we have is worn out and more than ten years old. We have no new tax base and limited funds to pay for needed improvements to the City. When we start earning new taxes from the Love’s Truck Stop, then we may be able to afford the repairs and improvements needed by the City,” said Mayor Steele.
Councilmembers responded that this was why they were asking for a budget and audit so they could understand and project the City’s finances to pay current obligations and plan for future expenditures.
In other actions, the Eutaw City Council approved a retail beer and wine license for Love’s truck Stop and publication for four week’s of the City’s request for Sunday alcohol sales, which will generate some additional revenues.

Mayor Steele reports to Eutaw City Council on recent positive progress

Shown L To R: Mayor Raymond Steele, Anita Lewis Executive Director of Branch Heights and Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison inspecting newly paved road.
Sgt. Jones displaying guns that were confiscated from juveniles in
an arrest on O’Neal Street.

After some routine matters, the January 8, 2019 first meeting of the new year was devoted to a report by Mayor Raymond Steele on positive progress by the city over the past weeks.
The Eutaw City Council agreed to table discussion of bills and finances until a working session scheduled for January 15, 2019. The area of finances, a budget, audits of prior year finances and a general handle on the revenues and expenses of the city remain a concern to a majority of the Council members.
Mayor Steele reported that work on resurfacing the streets in Branch Heights was underway. Central Asphalt Company of Northport was doing a good job. The major streets will be done first and then if funds are left in the contract, the individual cul de sacs in the community will also be resurfaced.
The Mayor indicated that some supplement might need to be added to the contract to complete the full road and street resurfacing project in Branch Heights. This work is being funded by a special allocation of bingo funds and the city’s road repair tax account.
Mayor Steele reported that site work for the Love’s Truck Stop project at the Interstate 59/20 exit would begin later in January. Some equipment has been pre-staged by the contractor for use in site preparations for the project.
The Mayor thanked Rev. Barton for his work with youth at the Robert H. Young Community Center (formerly Carver Elementary School) including a basketball tournament, exercise and weight room and improvements to the exterior and interior of the buildings.
Darren Cook of Unity in the Community, a non-profit organization, has assisted Rev. Barton with the youth program and sponsoring the holiday basketball tournament. Cook, who is a native of Tishabee community in Greene County, now resides in Huntsville raised funds through his non-profit to help with charitable projects in Greene County. Cook said his organization also provided bicycles for poor children through DHR and Christmas baskets to forty senior citizens in the community.
Cook’s organization recently provided 30 table coverings for the Robert H. Young Center. Council members thanked Cook and praised the city administration for moving ahead in a positive way. Rev. James Carter indicated that he had employed three young people, in his family construction business, who he met at the basketball tournament.
The Mayor announced that Auburn University was sponsoring a conference on economic development on April 4, 2019, in Eutaw, in conjunction with the city and surrounding communities.
Police Chief Coleman and Sgt. Jones displayed two automatic guns that they had confiscated from juveniles in an arrest the previous week on O’Neal Street. The weapons which were modified to fire continuous rounds automatically looked dangerous and raised many questions as to how and why young people in our city should be carrying weapons of war suitable to a third world battlefield and not the streets of small town Alabama.
In other business, the Eutaw City Council:

  • Approved use of the Eutaw Civic Center by the National Wild Turkey Federation, for their special annual event on February 22, 2019, including approval of a license to serve alcohol at the event; and
  • Approved travel for Chief Coleman to attend the Alabama Chief of Police Conference in Montgomery on February 17-21, 2019.

Greene County Chapter of DST sponsors 8th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk

The Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. held its 8th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 on the old courthouse square in Eutaw, AL. Mayor Raymond Steele was present to deliver greetings from the City of Eutaw, applauding the efforts on behalf of the Delta to bring awareness to the community. Nancy Cole gave greetings on behalf of the chapter president. Johnni Morning served as Mistress of Order. This event was open to the public. All participants received various materials on breast cancer awareness. A collection of pink balloons was released in celebration of breast cancer survivors and their families, as well as for individuals currently struggling with the illness. The annual walk is also held to encourage the community to adopt more healthy life styles, including healthy food choices, regular physical exercise and medical exams. Isaac Atkins is President of the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Johnni Strode-Morning is Chairperson of the chapter’s Physical and Mental Health Committee.

Eutaw Mayor and City Council tangle over bills and budget

At their regular Eutaw City Council meeting on September 25, 2018, Mayor Raymond Steele and City Council members once again questioned each other over outstanding bills and the need for a budget for the operations of the city. When asked by City Council members how he was determining which outstanding bills to pay, the Mayor said, “We use our best judgment and pay the most pressing bills which the Council has approved for payment. We have had no increase in our tax base in twenty or more years so we do not have enough tax and business revenue coming in to pay all of our bills.” Councilwoman Sheila Smith pressed the Mayor on the Waste Management garbage bills, “People in the city pay $15 a month on their water bills for garbage collection, yet we are three months behind ($48,000) in our payments to Waste Management for these services. Who is deciding how to use the monies paid for garbage collection to pay for other things?” inquired Smith. Councilman Latasha Johnson asked, “Why don’t we have a budget. The City of Eutaw needs a budget. The Council is in charge of the City’s finances but without information and a budget, we really don’t know how we are operating.” Mayor Steele responded, “The City has not had a budget since 2012 because of the problem with our revenue streams. “Our equipment is old and in need of constant replacement and repairs. I have been talking to the Sheriff about more bingo funds. I hope the Loves Travel Center will bring in new gas and sales tax revenues. We are doing our best to handle this difficult situation.” Councilwoman Johnson suggested that, “We should do a budget anyway to see where we are and agree on some priorities for spending our city funds.” Mayor Steele presented a contract for $448,500 from Central Asphalt Company of Tuscaloosa to repave the streets in Branch Heights with 1 and ½ inches of asphalt. “This is not a permanent solution to the problems of Branch Heights roads and streets but it will help, he said.” The Mayor asked that the Council, City Attorney and Engineer study the proposal so it can be adopted at the next meeting. Steele said the funds for the contract would come from gas tax funds, which can only be used for road improvements.

The Council approved naming four more persons to the Eutaw Airport Authority Board: Reginald Cheatem, Derrick Coleman, Collin McCray and Joe Lee Powell. The Council previously named Danny Cooper and Billy Mingus to the Board. The Eutaw Airport Authority Board will work to maintain and improve the City’s airport for use in transportation and economic development. Mayor Steele asked the Council for permission to seek cost estimates to repave West End Avenue, which was approved. The Council also approved the use of Eutaw Civic Center, formerly the National Guard Armory, for a Ducks Unlimited annual event on November 9. Darlene Robinson said that she was going to place pink ribbons around the Courthouse Square for “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and presented a plaque to the City. John Darden asked the Council if they had a strategic plan for flooding in view of the disaster of Hurricane in the Carolinas. He also raised the problems of failing culverts and lighting on Springfield Avenue, where he lives. Police Chief Coleman introduced retired Sheriff’s deputy Tommy Johnson Sr. who has been retained as a part-time city police officer. Several people in the audience thanked the police for their life saving and crime fighting efforts.

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.

Steele moves $115,000 of Branch Heights Road funds Eutaw Mayor and City Council members disagree over use of funds

Last night’s Special Called Meeting of the Eutaw City Council ended in a deadlocked 3 to 3 tie vote over paying bills for the City.
Mayor Raymond Steele, Latasha Johnson and Bennie Abrams voted in favor of paying the bills while Joe Lee Powell, LaJeffrey Carpenter and Shiela H. Smith voted against paying the outstanding bills for May and June.
This special meeting was held because the prior regular Council meeting, last Tuesday June 12, ended in an argument between Council members and the Mayor, after an Executive Session discussing the movement of funds to pay bills.
In an interview with the Democrat, Councilman Joe Lee Powell said he was concerned that Mayor Steele had transferred $115,000 from an account earmarked to repair roads and streets in Branch Heights to pay the City’s current bills. The account had about $350,000 in it before the transfer.
“ A meeting was held in Branch Heights to discuss the status of the ‘road fund’ which comes from a $27,000 monthly set aside of funds paid by the Palace Electronic Bingo Hall. After the meeting, the Mayor transferred the funds out of the Road Account into the General Fund, and used them to pay bills,” asserted Councilman Powell, who lives in Branch Heights and represents the area on the Eutaw City Council.
“What the Mayor did was take the little hope we had of fixing the roads in Branch Heights and dashed our hopes. The Mayor should have met with us to figure out what other parts of the budget could be cut and how to adjust accounts to make funds available to pay bills. How will we pay next month’s bills, does Mayor Steele plan to dip into the Branch Heights Road Fund again?” asks Powell.

Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter says, “ This is not a new problem, the Mayor knows our income has been dropping for several months. Why didn’t he meet with the Council to discuss this before taking the Branch Heights funds without our permission? If we had a budget for the City, we could have caught this problem in time and avoided being in this situation.”
Mayor Steele says, “ I had no choice but to use the funds we had to pay our bills, including a bill to IRS on late payment of employee taxes. I have been working with U. S. Senator Richard Shelby and others to get the $5 million needed to redo the roads and streets in Branch Heights. It is going to take a lot more than the money in the special Branch Heights Road Fund to fix the roads. We need to pay our bills now and work on the roads when more substantial funds become available from the Federal government.”
Steele went on to say, “I consulted with Sheriff Benison before I moved the road funds over to the general fund. He agreed that we needed to pay our current bills.”
“ I am also hoping in the near future that the Love’s Truck Stop, at the Interstate 40 Exit, will become a reality and can generate new sales and gas tax revenues to help with the City’s General Fund and for special projects like repair of the roads in Branch Heights,” said Steele.
Powell said, “ Mayor Steele was wrong not to meet with us and present and discuss his plan to move and spend the Branch Heights Road Fund monies. If he had worked with us, we might have found a solution that all could live with. I did not vote to pay the list of bills he presented because most of them were marked paid already, with the funds he transferred. He has to work with us and he cannot dictate to us without any discussion.”
Asked if delays in sending water bills was contributing to the City’s financial problems, Powell said, “I think everyone will get a partial bill this week but I would not have signed off on the water project, like Mayor Steele did, until everything was worked out on the new digital self-reading water meters. This is part of the problem but until we sit down together – the Council and the Mayor – we will not be able to work out these problems.”
In other business, the Eutaw City Council:
• Approved the 2018 ‘Back to School’ Sales Tax Holiday from July 20-22, 2018;
• Approved travel to the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Orange Beach from July 29 to August 2, 2018 for Chief Derrick Coleman and Assistant Chief Beck; and
* Cancelled the regular City Council meeting set for June 26, 2018.
* The City of Eutaw will be closed July 4,5,6, 2018 for Independence Day

Eutaw City Council meeting aborted before conducting any business

The Eutaw City Council attempted a meeting on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, but the meeting was aborted shortly after it was opened. Prior to the council getting into its business, Councilman LaJeffery Carpenter requested to place additional items on the agenda. He made reference to a list of items he said he brought to the Mayor the previous week. Mayor Raymond Steele responded that Carpenter’s list was out of order. “I have asked council members to come in to talk with me about their concerns and suggestions and Councilman Carpenter did not do that,” Steele said.
In his comments, Steele explained that most of the items on Carpenter’s list are administrative concerns. Carpenter responded that these are concerns that the Mayor refuses to address administratively. Councilman Carpenter moved to amend the agenda and have his list added. Councilperson Sheila Smith offered the second and the motion passed.
Councilman Joe L. Powell asked the Mayor to state where on the agenda the added items would be placed. Mayor Steele responded that he would proceed with the original agenda and the council could then deal with the other items as they saw fit. Powell repeated his request of where the added items would be placed on the agenda and Mayor Steele repeated his same response. “ This city council just does not want to work with me,” Steele stated.
According to Councilman Powell, “ When a council members asked to have something placed on the agenda it should be put on the agenda.”
Councilperson Smith rose with the response that “Communicating and working together is a two-way approach. Mayor, you have to make an effort as well to work with us.” Councilperson Smith apologized to the audience as she proceeded to walk out of the council meeting.
Amidst the back-and-forth of some council members and the mayor, Councilperson LaTasha Johnson stated: “We cannot have this kind of conduct,” and moved to adjourn the meeting. There was a second and a vote and the council members and mayor rose to depart.
Councilperson Johnson clarified that she wanted to close the meeting because it was becoming a waste of time. “ We started the meeting arguing and I felt that we were not going to accomplish anything. Arguing and arguing get us nowhere,” she said.
No official business of the Eutaw City Council was conducted that evening.
Councilpersons Johnson and Powell agree that the work sessions could help the council and mayor work better together and support scheduling those again.
Some of the items Councilman Carpenter wants on agenda for the entire council to address include the following: All city owned vehicles should have municipal tags; Usage of city vehicles and/or equipment for personal use should be terminated; City personnel policy should be updated and changed; Charges on city credit card should be approved by the council; Council members should receive copies of employees timesheets; All employees must be paid out of payroll account; Only city employees, mayor and council should have access to City Hall; Specific pay raise increase for designated employees; Allow Greene County Ryder’s Club to use city park; Purchase council members shirts for municipal conference; Executive session for good name and character.

Eutaw City Council holds routine meeting

At its March 27, 2018 meeting the Eutaw City Council handled routine business and then adjourned into a lengthy executive session to discuss “the good name and character of individuals” or “legal matters” facing the city.
The Eutaw City Council often holds executive sessions to discuss matters in private, which means that the public and the press are not allowed to hear the discussions and deliberations. We hope the Eutaw City Council is not meeting in “executive session” to avoid public exposure of its discussions.
Mayor Raymond Steele and three Council members: Latasha Johnson, Joe Lee Powell and LaJeffrey Carpenter, constituted a quorum. Council members: Bennie Abrams and Sheila H. Smith were absent.
The Council approved a change in the liquor license application for the Chuck Wagon to Warrior Bar and Grill, LLC. The restaurant will now be located in West End next to the convenience store on Highway 11. A formal ribbon cutting ceremony will be held once the liquor license is in place but the restaurant is open for business at its new location.
There was a discussion of the policy and usage rates for the Eutaw Civic Center, the new name of the former Eutaw National Guard Armory.

Mayor Steele said there would need to be some changes in the usage fee for profit and non-profit events to cover all expenses for the facility. Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter suggested that the Council table this issue until it could be discussed in a ‘work session’.
The Council then voted to table this matter for further discussion.
The Council voted to pay bills as presented for the past month. They also voted that the City employees be given Good Friday on March 30 as a holiday.
During the public comment period, a resident inquired about when they would receive a water bill. Mayor Steele said the water bills were delayed because the City had to complete updating of the software to read the electronic meters. As soon as this is completed the water bills would be issued and future bills should be on a regular monthly schedule.
The Council adjourned the public meeting and went into an ‘executive session’.