Council passes resolution for Theo Center expansion

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Council members passed a resolution Thursday that would allow the Theo Ratliff Center to a apply for a grant to fund a 3,000-square foot addition to their facility, in addition to authorizing $32,000 in matching funds for the project.

John Clyde Riggs, executive director for the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission, presented the project to the council after working closely with Mark Pettus, Parks and Recreation director and Edward Ward, Theo Center director.

Riggs also said that there are already new programs in the works such as computer classes and piano lessons, which could be housed in the new addition to the center.

Email newsletter signup

The current estimated cost for the project is $382,000. Riggs said they are also hopeful to secure a $250,000 grant through the Community Development Block Grant Program, which is part of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

Center namesake and Demopolis native, Theo Ratliff, has agreed to commit $100,000 to the project and the Friends of Theo Ratliff Foundation have also agreed to pay $100,000 for the project.

The council also heard from John Wallace of the Industrial Development Board, which is beginning the process for a replacement for their executive secretary, a position formerly held by Jay Shows.

After doing some research, Wallace said in order to hire a high-caliber replacement for Shows, they would need to offer a salary of approximately $75,000, or more.

Wallace also went to the Finance Committee to assess how much the city would be able to offer a new candidate. The recommendation of the committee was to stay within the current salary range, which is approximately $35,000-$40,000.

Councilman Thomas Moore said, &8220;We need to update that position in order to be productive. We will need to put some money in to it.&8221;

As to whether or not they have begun looking for potential candidates, Wallace said, &8220;As soon as we know where the funds are, we will post the position.&8221;

After a vote, the council decided to agree with the Finance Committee&8217;s recommendation of staying within the current salary range.

The council also heard from Bill and Cathy Robinson, who are concerned about the lights at the entrance of the SportsPlex. The Robinsons asked the council if there could be anything done to reduce the brightness of the lights, which interfere with their property.

Mayor Cecil Williamson asked Parks and Recreation Director Mark Pettus if the lights at the SportsPlex were the same wattage as other city streetlights.

According to Pettus, the bulbs should be 400 watts, which is the standard wattage for streetlights. Pettus agreed at the Mayor&8217;s suggestion to look into getting lower wattage bulbs for the entrance to the SportsPlex.

In other business:

Burnquetta Johnson was reappointed to another term on the Library Board of Trustees.

One member of the Citizens Task Force turned in a letter of resignation this week. The council is still seeking names for potential members for the force.