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Upgrades approved for New Era building

The Demopolis City Council on Thursday approved funding for construction upgrades at the former New Era building.

The building is being used for several job training programs and Shelton State Community College has used the facility as a truck driving school. Recently SSCC President Bill Ashley, who was named to the post in July, toured the New Era building and voiced concerns about the facility.

“(Ashley) was not happy with what he saw and said he couldn’t allow Shelton State’s name on it due to ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) issues,” said Councilman Charles Jones, who also serves as Regional Workforce Manager for Alabama Postsecondary Schools.

Among the concerns was uneven floors  and handicap accessible restrooms.

“In the end, this is still (the city’s) building and these are upgrades that need to be made,” Jones said. Jones added that the building is being eyed for what he described as a “state-of-the-art HVAC program.” He said to do that, additional power would be needed, similar to a project previously done for a welding program housed in the building.

Councilman Cleveland Cole made a motion allowing the city to spend $50,000 for the upgrades and it was seconded by Councilman Harris Nelson. It was approved unanimously with Jones abstaining due to his role with the community college system.

The council also approved during Thursday’s meeting a low bid of $552,900 for the expansion of a railroad spur to Two Rivers Lumber. The city had facilitated the bid for Two Rivers and is not financially obligated in the project, according to Mayor John Laney.

In an effort to slow some drivers on certain streets, the council approved the placement of four-way stops at Strawberry and Decatur, Main and Decatur, Main and Monroe, and Decatur and Walnut.

The council concluded the meeting after going into executive session to discuss “personnel issues.”

The next city council meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 9 a.m. The time change was requested by Councilman Nathan Hardy and was approved by council vote.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, Nov. 4 edition of the Demopolis Times.)