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Council OKs officials, sale of property

The Demopolis City Council held a special meeting Tuesday night, approving the sale of the Coliseum property on U.S. Highway 80 and retaining four municipal officials.

The council voted unanimously to sell the property to the Demopolis Water Works and Sewer Board for $184,400. According to information garnered at the Sept. 4 council meeting, the coliseum and the property were appraised at $114,000. Earlier in the year, the Demopolis Water Works and Sewer Board had offered $50,000 for the property before it was officially appraised.

“The water and sewer board is an autonomous board, not directly controlled by the City of Demopolis,” said mayor Mike Grayson, “but it’s impossible to really separate the two. The fact that the centralized location of that facility could be utilized by all departments of the city: public works, park and rec — any other board — as a staging area for equipment, it just makes a lot of sense.

“As we go forward in this economic climate, any time that we can save $50, $100 on fuel as opposed to having to drive from out by the lock and dam, where they are housed now — and then, if they need additional supplies, they have to go all the way back — it makes a lot of sense.”

Grayson said the council had two bids in hand, not counting several who expressed interest in putting in a bid until they heard the appraised price of the property. He added that the other bid in hand was contingent on rezoning the property.

The Demopolis Water Works and Sewer Board recently moved into a building on Capitol Street across from Robertson National Bank (into the former Liberty National building). Grayson said the board would use the Highway 80 property as a warehouse and operations area.

The council also took separate votes on each of four municipal officials, voting unanimously to retain each at his position. Retaining their positions for the remainder of the four-year term of the council were city clerk Paula Bird, city judge Woody Dinning Jr. and fire chief Ronnie Few. The council voted unanimously to renew the contract of city attorney Richard S. Manley.

As the vote was taken to retain Few, District 5 representative Jack Cooley said, “On behalf of what I consider to be the best move for the future of Demopolis, I vote yes.”

After the meeting, Grayson reflected on the council’s unanimous votes.

“I know that I voted ‘no’ on the initial motion because I had some questions,” he said of the vote taken at the Nov. 20 council meeting. “They were questions that I wanted to have answered and get a better understanding on.

“For instance, I fully understand what the fire department reorganization means, because sooner or later, we’re going to have to reorganize the police department. Not that they operate as one, but certainly, that’s what we’ve got to do in the near future. I’d like to see the entire city on an organizational-type scale where you know — if you do your job and invest back in yourself in terms of training and education to do your job better, and how long you’ve been on the job — it certainly counts for something, assuming you have positive employee evaluations.

“We’ve got some big issues to solve, going forward,” he said. “This is one that I believe that you put the best players in the game and let ‘em play.”

The next meeting of the Demopolis City Council will be on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 5:15 p.m. at Rooster Hall.