After a little arm-twisting, it’s time to say farewell

So I’m tying up loose ends here in Demopolis, including transitioning my ownership share of The Watchman (which remains in excellent and capable hands, by the way), and Jeremy mentions the thing I hoped he would forget to ask.

“You’ve got to write a farewell column,” he asserted.

“But Jeremy, those things sometimes seemed forced, and they kind of fall flat when they do,” I said. “I don’t know.”

But J is persistent, to say the least. “Just tell when you came, how you’re different, what you’ll miss and what you’ve learned,” he said.

Okay, I came here in 1991. Now that was easy. So is how I’m different: less hair.

We need to camp out a little while on those other two, though.

What will I miss? A small sampling…

…hunting some of the best deer and turkey habitat to be found

…the whole Alabama-Auburn thing

…watching barges round that big bend in the Tombigbee River upon which the City of the People proudly sits

…the welcoming spirit I noticed my very first day here and have felt every day of the 24 years since

…working with Jan McDonald, a class act if there ever was one

…great neighbors up and down Mayton Avenue

…Thursday morning prayer breakfast at the hospital

…Jefferson Barbecue

…trips to UWA and working with the fine people over there

…those infrequent and informal Watchman pow-wows with Michael and Jeremy

…too many friendships to start throwing out names

…taking Rangeline Road to Linden and other points south where the people are as genuine as they come (I’m not sure a greater compliment can be paid a community)

…Bethel Baptist Association quarterly men’s meetings

…working with Marsha Pugh, another class act

…City Council executive sessions (wait, scratch that one!)

…singing with Tim Hall, Rob Pearson and Danny Wasson

…and Sweet Water football!

What I’ve learned. Hmmm. I’ve learned that…

…the people of Marengo County are a determined bunch who believe in community

…the folks around here truly care about each other, reaching out in ways you’d never expect and often in ways others never see

…people go nuts around here during football season. (I’d always heard that, but until you see it first-hand, you can’t understand)

…a trusty iPhone takes great photos (inside joke)

…patriotism is alive and well in this part of the country

…Marengo County – and there are no statistics to back this up – may just produce as much raw athletic talent per capita as any county in the nation

…a diverse community can forge unity and harmony

…they grow dang big alligators around here

…those who call Marengo County, Alabama home are truly blessed.

Council withdraws Wells’ name, appoints Patterson to hospital board

Demopolis City Council’s running dispute with the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority Board of Directors over appointments to the hospital board apparently reached a final – though tense – conclusion Thursday night.

Following lengthy discussion at Thursday’s council meeting, which included THA Board Chairman Jay Shows and board members Allen Bishop and Charles Singleton, council member Bill Meador made a motion to withdraw Riley Wells’ name from consideration. Wells had recently been appointed to the hospital board by the council. Meador’s motion passed 5-1, with Mayor Mike Grayson opposing.

The council then voted 4-2, with Grayson and Meador objecting, to fill the vacancy immediately. The vacant hospital board spot went to Michael Patterson by a 4-1 vote, with Meador opposing and Grayson abstaining. Patterson was on a list of candidates recently submitted to the council by the hospital board.

At issue in recent months has been the process for selecting hospital board members that are considered city council appointments. For the past 20 years, City Attorney Bill Poole pointed out, the hospital board has accepted appointments from the city council. Last year, however, the hospital board invoked a stipulation of the Healthcare Authorities Act that limits the council’s choices to a list of three nominees submitted by the hospital board.

Grayson asked Shows why the hospital board felt it necessary to change the process after 20 years. Shows responded that the THA Board feels utilizing the Healthcare Authorities Act process “provides better filtering of candidates that both sides can work with” and that the process takes politics out of the equation as much as possible.

Grayson then asked Shows why the hospital board had an issue with the person that the council had chosen (Wells). Shows said the hospital board had no problems with Wells’ character or qualifications, but felt it is necessary to “follow the proper process.”

In other action Thursday, the council:

  • Appointed Lee Pritchett to the Industrial Development Board
  • Granted a 50 percent sales tax rebate to SVH Bistro for seven years. The Bistro, which will be located downtown, will provide 14 new jobs, said Grayson, who will own the bistro and who had temporarily vacated his seat to make the request
  • Voted to send a letter of commitment to assist with the paving project at the South Industrial Park to accommodate Shelton State’s truck driving program
  • Approved the demolition of a burned out residence at 609 W. Pettus. The council will place a lien on the property for the cost of clean up
  • Voted to increase fees for non-profit organizations that use the Civic Center more than once in a calendar year
  • Agreed to cover cost overruns on the Jackson Street Bridge project, and lower the speed limit to 20 mph at the bridge
  • Approved the back-to-school Sales Tax Holiday for Aug. 7-9.

Photo of the Day

potd - morning walk with dogs

Seems the whole neighborhood decided to take an early morning walk!

Photo of the Day

potd - fire hydrantFlushing a fire hydrant on Main Street in Demopolis.

Photo of the Day

potd - rooftop painting_edited-1

Luis Lopez spruces up a house on Strawberry Street.

Photo of the Day

potd - walking dog

Mac Hurst and Bo go for a morning stroll.

Photo of the Day

r - potd - camilla tutt

Camilla Tutt sang the National Anthem before last Saturday’s Montgomery Biscuits baseball game against Pensacola.

Demopolis council taps Riley Wells for hospital board seat

Demopolis’ City Council appointed Riley Wells to the hospital board Tuesday evening, opting not to select from a slate of names submitted previously by the hospital board.

Mayor Mike Grayson told the council that he met earlier in the day with hospital CEO/Administrator Art Evans, and assured him that the council “is not trying to draw a line in the sand” by not choosing a hospital board nominee. The hospital board recently sent a letter indicating that the council is legally bound to choose from the hospital board’s list of names.

Grayson said the meeting with Evans was conciliatory in tone. The two entities have sparred in the recent past over hospital board appointments.

Council member Bill Meador, who originally nominated Wells, repeated the nomination again Tuesday. He, along with Grayson and Harris Nelson, voted for Wells, while council members Charles Jones Jr. and Nathan Hardy voted no.

Following the vote, Grayson said, “My understanding is that the hospital board can still come back and question this (appointment).”

Meador responded, “They can do whatever they want.”

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council accepted the city’s 2013-2014 Financial Audit, as presented by CPA Richard LeCroy. “Financially, you had a good year last year,” LeCroy reported. He also recommended that various internal control procedures be put into place.

In other matters, the council:

  • Held a discussion on establishing a limit on the number of times a charitable organization can use the Civic Center in a year. The matter was tabled until next meeting.
  • Heard City Attorney Bill Poole report that he plans to speak with a potential buyer for the property at 609 W. Pettus, which is the site of a burned structure. If not purchased, the city will need to conduct asbestos testing before demolition. Poole also informed the council that he is preparing resolutions for the demolition of four other properties.
  • Re-appointed Annye Braxton, Sarah Hallmark and Brian Brooker to the Historic Preservation Commission.
  • Accepted a $3,200 bid from Collins Communications to provide an enhanced security and access system for the Civic Center. The Mayor said the current system is not effective. Charles Jones voted against the measure.
  • Approved an off-premises beer license for the Sonoco station on U.S. 80 West.
  • Heard Grayson report that the Herbert Street repair  project appears to be more extensive than originally thought, and that he has been appointed to the executive committee of the Alabama League of Municipalities.

Photo of the Day

potd - dhs reunion

Al Jones, Kenon Rowser, Phelton Payne and Karmen Moon prepare for the 20th reunion of Demopolis High School’s Class of 1995 Saturday at the City Landing.

Photo of the Day

potd - monkey bars

Russ Thorne prepares to tackle the monkey bars at Foscue Park.