Council pledges $92,500 to Demopolis Higher Education Center

Demopolis’ Higher Education Center obtained a $92,500 commitment from the City Council at Monday night’s meeting at Rooster Hall.

Angelia Mance, director of the center located at the Sports-Plex, asked the council to “consider reinstating the funding,” noting that in 2009 the city made a five-year commitment to the University of West Alabama, which operates the center.

Mance noted some of the center’s accomplishments, including tripling the size of the dual enrollment program, providing dual enrollment scholarships, technical training and offering graduate classes for area educators at reduced tuition rates.

“We’ve enjoyed a positive relationship, and I think we’re doing some great things with Demopolis City Schools and the city, and we’re poised to do even more,” Mance said.

After council member Charles Jones Jr. recommended approving Mance’s request, Mayor Mike Grayson noted that the city’s budget has already been approved, and asked Jones where he suggested finding the funds.

Jones recommended taking the money from the upcoming paving project. “We’ll just pave one less street,” Jones said.

Grayson said he is “in favor of UWA staying,” but suggested that the original agreement was for 10 years beginning in 2002. Jones then presented minutes from a 2009 meeting that implied that the agreement would continue through 2014.

Jones’ motion ultimately passed unanimously.

Earlier in the meeting, City Attorney Bill Poole asked the council for “five or 10 nominations” for the next round of dilapidated and abandoned properties to be addressed.

After a brief discussion, Jones asked Poole to send a letter to the owners of the old Newton Tire location on U.S. 80 West. Newton Tire burned last year.

“(The city) could clean it up,” Poole responded, “but any lien we placed on it would be behind the bank’s mortgage. We may never get (the city’s expenses) back.”

Jones asked again that a letter be sent to the owners, which Poole indicated he would send.

Grayson agreed with Jones. “Somehow, some way, we can’t just let this go on,” he said.

Jones said hopeful that progress in cleaning up the site will be made shortly after the first of the year.

In other matters, the council unanimously re-appointed Allen Bishop to the Board of Adjustment, Marvin Johnson to the Cemetery Board, Hester Brown to the Historical Preservation Commission and Bill Barley and Alex Robertson to the Planning Commission.

The council also approved a Chamber of Commerce request permitting alcoholic beverages at this weekend’s BBQ Cookoff, tabled a decision on technology that would allow council members to access minutes and other documents electronically, and approved the expenditure of approximately $1,000 for technology to enhance control of access to the Civic Center.

After an executive session, the council voted to enter into a lease agreement that will allow Shelton State to operate a truck driving school at the New Era building.