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Mayor debates policy issues

DEMOPOLIS &045; After a pleasant beginning for the council meeting yesterday, presenting resolutions commending civic service, several issues bogged down the proceedings as the council and mayor debated policy issues and the prior decisions by the council and city boards.

Following resolutions thanking Harold Johnson for a donated flagpole and the Rotary Club for the instillation of a clock on the town square, a resolution involving the future of the city owned Rosenbush Warehouse building caused dissension among the council and Mayor Cecil Williamson. Williamson said findings by the Building Committee, calling the building surplus and uninsurable, lead to the resolution, which asked for action by the council to label the building as surplus and sale or remove the structure.

The council and mayor spoke about the findings of the building committee leading to the decision to refer the structure to the council. Williamson said the council should have foreknowledge of the structure’s state since it has been an issue by the building committee for some time.

Councilman Charles Jones asked the council to table the new issue until the next meeting until members could glean further information on the subject. A vote on the issue passed unanimously.

Rosenbush said if he had wanted the building sold when he donated it he would have sold it himself. He said he gave the city the property so it could be used for the good of the city, like the land the hospital and high school was.

Following tabling the Rosenbush Warehouse resolution, the council

transitioned to accepting bids that were returned for the proposed new fire station. Councilman Melvin Yelverton asked to see the plans for the building for which the council was about to accept the bids to find none available at city hall.

Cooley followed Yelverton’s request by asking if the council should approve the project prior to settling the bond issue for the project and other projects like the stadium and proposed municipal building. Councilman Thomas Moore said the fire station project was issued before the council initiated talks about a bond issue.

The council passed the acceptance of the bond unanimously, but asked Interim Fire Chief Tommy Tate to bring blueprints for the station to Rooster Hall before the adjournment of the council meeting.

Later in the meeting, while talking about the business license reforms mandated by the state Cooley and Williamson, disagreed on the timeliness of the issue. Williamson said the council should not adjourn unless plans were taken to address the issue that would effect business licenses in 2008. Cooley said the new law wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2008, which would indicate the issue wouldn’t need to be addressed by the October deadline Williamson put on the issue.

In other business:

-The council offered the City Clerk position to Aliquippa Allen. Allen will make her decision whether or not to accept the position at a 1 p.m. personnel committee meeting today.

-Williamson updated the council on the cities on going projects. Williamson said the city is waiting to receive several easements to proceed with the Whitfield Canal project. She said the Riverwalk project is ready to proceed with construction – the city only needs the Alabama department of transportation to release the funds in order to move forward.

Williamson said the French Creek water project is 99 percent completed and the Municipal Complex project is being worked on &8220;as we speak.&8221;

-The council recognized Harold Johnson by passing a resolution. The resolution thanked Johnson for his donation of a new flagpole outside of city hall, after the last one was damaged by the tornado in late November.

A resolution was also passed commending the Rotary Club for donating a clock to the city and placing it at the corner of Washington and Walnut Street.

-Public Safety Director Jeff Manuel told the council the police department would increase patrol of U.S. Highway 80 for speeding and observance of stoplight laws. Manuel said the patrols are an attempt to curb the accidents that have recently occurred on the road.

-During the Public Library report Lindsy Gardner thanked the street and police departments for tier help during the weekend events associated with the Hellman-Wyler Festival.