Demopolis council reinstates funding for Demopolis Higher Education Center

Published 10:00 pm Monday, December 2, 2013

The Demopolis City Council voted Monday to reinstate $92,500 in funding for the Demopolis Higher Education Center that was cut from this year’s budget.

Angelia Mance from UWA spoke before the council, touting some of the center’s accomplishments and outlining future plans. She asked the council to reconsider their decision.

Mance told the council there was a five-year commitment for funding that goes through 2014.

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“We ask that you carry out that commitment,” Mance said. “I think we are doing some great things for the schools and the city of Demopolis.”

Over the past few years, dual enrollment at the high school has tripled with the help of scholarships for students and more and more teachers are able to take graduate classes through the center, Mance said.

“We also have a program in the works at the New Era building for which we have ordered several hundred thousand dollars in new welding equipment,” she said. “We are on the verge of being able to bring the technical training we wanted to bring.”

Mayor Mike Grayson and Councilman Bill Meador were the only two leaders in office in 2009. Grayson said he couldn’t recall if such an agreement was in place or not but Meador seemed to think there was some kind of arrangement.

“I think I remember [an agreement],” Meador said. “I’m fully in favor of funding it if we made the commitment and certainly want to keep UWA here.”

The council unanimously voted to give the $92,500 to UWA for the fifth and final year.

Councilman Charles Jones Jr. said the additional expense would likely come from the $1 million the city has set aside for a street paving project.

The topic wasn’t the only higher education related issue taken up Monday. Following an executive session for “financial matters,” the council also approved lease terms with Shelton State Community College for a truck driving school in the New Era Building.

In other business, the council took the following actions:

•Discussed dilapidated houses. City attorney Bill Poole said that the final resolution of recouping money for two abandoned houses the city tore down this fall should be completed by the council’s next meeting. He is also beginning the process of working on the next round of houses.

Poole was asked about what the city could do, if anything, about the Newton Tire building that burned on Highway 80 last December.

“It’s about at an impasse at this point,” he said.

He added that the city could come in and clean the property but would likely never get that money back.

Grayson said something needs to be done about the eyesore.

“Somehow, someway we cannot let that just go,” Grayson said. “As far as I know, we have contacted all the players from A to Z and everybody points to someone else.”

•Made several reappointments to city boards. These included Allen Bishop to the board of adjustments, Marvin Johnson to the cemetery board, Hester Brown to the historical preservation commission and Bill Barley and Alex Robertson to the planning commission.

•Approved the City of Demopolis holiday schedule for the upcoming year.

•Approved the application for a liquor license for the Christmas on the River barbecue cookoff at the City Landing ball field.

•Discussed changes to the locks and keys at the Demopolis Civic Center. The council had taken bids on a new keypad lock that could be controlled at City Hall. Collins Communications had the low bid of $3,135.

However, Jones asked if the city could save money by just having the keys put in keypad- or card-swipe locked box rather than changing the door.

Something needs to be done soon because people currently leasing the civic center turn a key back into E-911 but dispatchers are moving to the old armory in Linden later this month.

“We are in a situation where we have to do something,” Grayson said.

The council made a motion to try Jones’ suggestion. Check back for updates on what changes are made.