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Demopolis council approves Jackson Street widening project

Taking a stop-gap measure to prevent accidents, the Demopolis City Council Thursday approved a contract to widen the south side of Jackson Street east of U.S. Jones Elementary School.
Contractor William Julian was awarded the contract for no more than $6,000, and the work should be completed before the start of school.
Three motions were needed for the council to approve the next phase of improvements at the Demopolis Airport. Director Jason Pendergrass said the first phase to widen the taxiway that parallels the runway is well underway. The second part of the project is to light the taxiway.
The total project cost is $344,000, of which the city is responsible for five percent, he continued. The motions included submitting the final application, accepting the bid from Webster Electric and amending the engineering contract with Garber Engineering to design and supervise the project.
After considerable debate, the council voted to lease a new tractor from John Deere to replace one that is 10 years old and continually being repaired.
The debate centered on whether to buy or lease a tractor, with council members discussing the pros and cons of each.
“Which risk are we willing to take?” asked Mayor Mike Grayson.
The city will pay $9,889 annually for five years to lease the tractor, which includes a full maintenance agreement.
Demopolis contributes $12,500 quarterly to the Marengo County Economic Development Authority. With the resignation of Brenda Tuck, the MCEDA director, the council considered suspending its contribution until a new director is hired.
Grayson said the funding could be given instead to the Demopolis Industrial Development Board for its own projects.
“We need to look at this long and hard,” said Councilman Charles Jones who questioned the proposal. “We made a commitment.”
Since the next quarterly payment isn’t due until September, the council voted to table the issue, especially since the search for a new director is ongoing.
In other business, the council still continues to try to resolve a problem with the drainage ditch on Decatur Street.
“My main concern is to keep your house from falling into the ditch,” Jones told homeowner Ruthie Williams.
City Attorney Bill Poole said one of the untended lots on Arcola Street has been mowed and the property owner billed for the work. Another lot has a dilapidated concrete block building, and Poole said he expects action will be taken to remove it before the next council meeting.
The council approved a tax rebate for Parker Tire, which is constructing a new building behind the Red Barn on U.S. Highway 80. The five-year rebate will be at 50 percent over the three-year tax base.
Also approved was a public assembly for Bumblebee Learning Academy for Aug. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Grayson announced that groundbreaking for the new Shelton State Community College truck driving school at the South Industrial Park will be held Aug. 17 at 9 a.m.