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City council discusses needs at civic center; approve monument design

The Demopolis City Council discussed several projects that are a need at the city’s civic center, including several that are considered code violations.

According to officials, there are three items that need to be corrected immediately at the civic center to bring it up to code: the ventilation hood in the kitchen is non-compliant, emergency lighting needs repaired, and the exit signs currently installed are not appropriate for assembly usage.

A photo of the obelisk design approved by the Demopolis City Council to be placed on a downtown monument.

City Project Manager Mike Baker will be working toward providing the council with a plan, including costs, to get those items corrected as soon as possible to allow for rental of the facility to move forward.

Also discussed were other needs such as roof repairs and replacing awnings.

“We are all proud of our civic center, but we need to keep it up so it will continue to be a nice place that people can use. We need to update and modernize as much as we can,” said Councilman Cleveland Cole who sits on the city’s Building Committee.

The council agreed the non-compliance problems at the civic center would be the first priority.

Other items discussed during the meeting including the following:

• Approving a design of an obelisk that would sit atop the downtown monument, which was damaged in 2016.

• Mayor John Laney said he conducted a Mayoral Pardon for a man who had been arrested over 20 years ago on a charge of family violence. Laney said he made the pardon based on the man’s “impeccable record” since that incident.

• Building Inspector Julius Rembert reported that there are currently five demolitions in process as part of the city’s ongoing dilapidated properties project. He reported that 12 demolitions have been completed so far and that two properties that have  been demolished will be bid out. Rembert expressed gratitude to those citizens who are reporting possible dilapidated properties.

• Projects Manager Mike Baker said he has discussed with Civil Southeast Engineers ongoing issues related to a ditch on Decatur Street.

“I’ve asked them to look at it with the hope they might provide some fresh ideas. We’re just looking for solutions,” Baker said.

• re-appointing Major Walker, Mark Dollar Ann Hunter, Sean Lomax, Rick Dunn, Lucinda Mason, and Sylvia Malone to the city’s Board of Adjustments.

• re-appointing Bobby Armstead and Scott Stapp to the Hospital Building Authority.

• approving for Police Chief Tommie Reese to begin fundraising for a K-9 unit.

• tabling a discussion regarding a damaged culvert on Estella Drive. The council is awaiting the costs of repairing the culvert  prior to moving forward with the project.

• approving a measure that will allow the Demopolis Rotary Club to construct a splash pad upon city property near the city landing. The Rotary Club asked for the commitment to include with a grant application.

• discussing the need for striping on city streets with Maria Avenue being mentioned specifically. Each council member was asked to consider streets in their districts that may need striping and report those to Street Department Superintendent Barabara Blevins.

• approving a rail easement for Two Rivers Lumber.

• upon hearing from Walter Charleston of the Demopolis Boxing Club, the council approved to provide financial assistance to the organization. Several council members said the club had received funds annually in the past, but at some point it was taken out of the budget. The council voted unanimously to put $2,000 back in the city’s budget for the organization.

• prompted by citizen comments, the city briefly discussed speeding and other traffic violations along Walnut Street. No action was take.

The next council meeting will be held Thursday, March 15,  at Rooster Hall.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, March 3 issue of the Demopolis Times.)