Council officially vacates District 2 seat

The Demopolis City Council officially declared the seat for District 2 vacant Thursday during its first meeting in the wake of the resignation of Mitchell Congress last week.

The declaration of the vacancy gives the council 60 days to come to an agreement on an appointee to finish the four-year term, which officially began Nov. 5, 2012.

Should the council be unable to reach an agreement, the matter would then be sent to the office of Gov. Robert Bentley, who would then have 60 days to fill the seat or decline to do so. Should the process get beyond the governor’s office, the city would then conduct a special election for the vacancy.

“Frankly I don’t think we’ll need an election and I don’t think we’ll need to send it to the governor,” Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson said of the matter. The council will officially begin the process of attempting to fill the vacancy at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 7.

While no names have been formally discussed, it seems likely the council would consider the candidacy of Nathan Hardy, who sought election to the seat during the Aug. 28 vote, a count he lost 256-146.

Other business covered during the meeting included the reappointment of Arthur Taylor to the Demopolis Water and Sewer Board. The reappointment came by a 4-1 margin with Cleveland Cole as the lone dissenter. Former councilman Thomas Moore was in consideration for the seat but, according to Grayson, requested the council remove his name from the list of nominees.

The council also unanimously approved the Demopolis Police Department’s request to apply for a grant that would provide the DPD with a completely outfitted motorcycle to be used for patrol purposes.

“Right now, it would be a gas saver in the summer days. I’ve got some officers that want to ride. You can use them for parades and for other functions. A lot of other agencies around the state do have motorcycles in their department because that bike can get into places a car can’t,” Demopolis Police Department Chief Tommie Reese said of how the DPD would use the motorcycles provided through the Harley-Davidson grant.  “I do plan on sending these officers to a school that is already set up. That school is about two weeks long. What I got from them is that the first day you are in the classroom and the next week you are on the road. You are out there learning how to handle the motorcycle.”

Marengo County Economic Development Authority director Brenda Tuck also approached the council with an update of ongoing projects.

“We are currently waiting on an announcement of a new business that is here,” Tuck informed the council. “We do have eight prospects that we are currently working on for the port. We are working toward the completion of that facility as well along with the cooperation of the mayor. I can tell you that a lot of the prospects we have right now would not be there if we did not have that property.”

The council also nominated Scott Stapp and Bobby Armstead for reappointment to the Hospital Building Authority for six-year terms.

The city’s governing body also nominated Burnquetta Johnson, Catherine Meador and Betty McCants for reappointment to the library board in addition to nominating Buck Webb for a seat being vacated by Quinn Henderson.

A vacancy on the parks and recreation board drew the nominations of Dr. Ronnie Chu, Arthur Evans, Jason Perryman and Dexter Jones.

During the council discussion portion of the agenda, Charles Jones alluded to discrepancies in service by the city’s weather sirens during the Christmas night tornado.

“We need to find, set aside, do whatever we need to do to at least add two more sirens to this city,” Jones said. “I heard people tell me they went out on the front porch and still never heard the sirens.”

Grayson also announced the reappoint of four individuals to the Historic Preservation Commission and the appointment of two to the Planning Commission.

Grayson reappointed Brian Brooker, Sarah Chandler Hallmark, Shelley Woods and Annie Braxton to the Historic Preservation Commission and reappointed Max Bailey to the Planning Commission. Grayson also announced the appointment of Charles Jones Sr. to the Planning Commission.