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Demopolis considers single voting location

The City of Demopolis is considering moving to a single voting location for upcoming elections.

Due to some of the previous polling places being unable to continue in that role, city officials are looking into several sites that could be utilized as a central voting place.   

City Clerk Sam Gross will be reviewing several sites to determine whether they would be compliant and meet the needs of the voters.

Among the sites mentioned as possible polling places are the National Armory and New Era buildings.

The city council also heard from Projects Manager Mike Baker regarding drainage repairs. Baker said he has received an estimate of just over $90,000 to construct a retaining wall, which he said would be a permanent repair. Previous estimates for the work had exceeded $250,000.

Baker also said he would look into possible grants, but felt the city would not be eligible for a CDBG grant as there are likely not enough residents directly effected by the project.

Baker and Councilman Charles Jones agreed to look closer at the project and return to the council with a recommendation.

Other items discussed by the council included the following items.

• The council approved the rezoning of property at 110 Yacht Basin to allow for multi-family dwellings. The property was rezoned from BLI (business) to R4 (residential) with a plan to construct condominiums.

• The city council, acting as the Maintenance Code Appeals Committee, heard from Building Inspector Julius Rembert on two properties where the owners were asking for additional time to complete work. The properties are located at 121 E. Washington St. and 707 E. Pettus Street. Rembert said both property owners are agreeing to the work, but are requesting an additional 90 days. The council approved the additional time for both appeals.

• During the work session that preceded the regular council session, Camillia Ratliff-Eatmon addressed the council regarding efforts to place an historic marker at U.S. Jones Elementary School. The marker would recognize the history of the school and especially that of its founder, Ulysses Simpson Jones.

Eatmon added that a board of directors is being organized and that they will seek 501c3 status as a nonprofit to raise funds in support of USJ.

She said the monument would cost about $3,000 to erect and that a city-wide reunion event would be held each year. The council took no action on the matter, but several stated their support.

• The council heard a presentation from Audrey Freeman of Avenue Insights and Analytics regarding a proposal for collecting business license and franchise tax fees. No action was taken.

• A nomination to place Kirk Stevens on the city’s Airport Commission was approved.

• Mayor John Laney announced that City Clerk Sam Gross had earned a Municipal Clerk Certification from the University of Alabama and that she has been named president of the Alabama Association of Municipal Clerks.

• Laney announced that Fire Chief Keith Murray completed requirements for Firefighter III status and has completed 32 hours of fire chief training.

• During council comments, Councilman Bill Meador said he has received numerous complaints regarding garbage pick-up, stating that many are seeing their garbage picked up only once per week, rather than twice. Councilmen Cleveland Cole and Jones each stated the same is true in his district. It was agreed the issue would be passed on to the Demopolis Water Works and Sewer Board, which oversees the contract for garbage pick-up.

• Meador also said that he continues to have concerns regarding the construction of a proposed apartment complex along Hwy. 80, adjacent to Demopolis High School property. “The more I think about it, and listen to people, the more problems I have with it going there,” he said.

Currently, the city has requested an ALDOT study on traffic in the area where the apartments would be constructed.  The city has also passed on to Gov. Kay Ivey letters from officials and residents requesting the license to construct the apartments be denied.

“We’ve done all we can do from a city perspective,” Laney said.

The mayor said the property was zoned R4 in 2004, with officials even writing a letter to HUD stating it was an ideal location (for construction) and that a notice was sent to the school system of the zoning change. “There were no concerns voiced at that time,” the mayor said.

The mayor said if the option on the current property expires the council could revisit the issue and possibly vote to rezone.

During public comments, Harold Park said he felt the construction of apartments would lead to serious drainage problems as there are already some issues in that area. Rembert said those constructing the property would be required to provide a drainage plan.

• Eleanor Park, representing the Pilot Club, told the council the club is recognizing Brain Awareness Month by speaking to first grade students across the county.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 5:15 p.m., at Rooster Hall. The public is invited to attend.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, March 11 issue of the Demopolis Times.)