Council tables airport funding discussion

Citing a reluctance to commit funds in its final meeting before three new members take office, the Demopolis City Council postponed action on a request to appropriate approximately $71,000 to airport improvements Thursday night.

The council heard the request from Jason Pendergrass to seek a $1.422 million grant for work at the airport. The grant would allow the removal of trees at the end of the runway, construction of security fencing and rehabilitation of the taxiway, and would require a five percent match of city funds.

The council opted to wait until the three new council members take office on Nov. 5, then call a meeting for the purpose of discussing the grant. The grant application deadline is Nov. 15.

On the heels of Pendergrass’ request, Mayor Mike Grayson reported positive news regarding the city’s 2011-12 finances. The council originally passed a budget that reflected a $52,000 deficit, but Grayson reported that unaudited financials reflect a fiscal year-end operating margin of $177,000. The mayor stressed that those figures are not final, and that some expenses yet to be paid will be expensed against the $177,000.

In other matters, the council heard an update from attorney Bill Poole, who said work continues on contacting owners of overgrown lots and dilapidated structures within the city. Poole said progress is being made on some lots, and asked the council to allow those efforts to continue before taking action on the properties.

The council also heard concerns from Adrienne Nixon Dixon regarding paving on First Avenue. She said the paving is incomplete and that overgrown bushes at the intersection of First Avenue and Arcola Road present a danger to motorists.

Dixon was informed that the paving is not final, but further work is being postponed until the conclusion of a sewer project, so that the work can be done properly.

Grayson noted that the Master National Dog Trials are underway in Demopolis, and indicated that the event provides an excellent opportunity for the city to “receive exposure literally all over North America.”

He noted that hotels, camphouses and campsites at Foscue Park are all full. “There will be 700-1,000 people here for this event,” he noted. The mayor expressed appreciation to Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jenn Tate and several city department heads for their work in preparing for the event.

At the conclusion of the 45-minute meeting, Grayson read a proclamation of thanks to council member Thomas Moore, who chose not to seek re-election after 20 years on the council. The mayor thanked Moore for his service to the State of Alabama, the City of Demopolis and the residents of District 1. He also praised Moore’s leadership and citizenship during his years of service.

In a heartfelt response, Moore thanked the citizens of Demopolis and District 1 for the opportunity to serve. “I have served five terms and part of an unexpired term,” he said. “I have never embarrassed anybody, and I’ve always had the city at heart.”

Moore will be succeeded by Charles Jones Jr.

Grayson also expressed thanks to two-term council members Jack Cooley and Melvin Yelverton, who will be replaced by Cleveland Cole and Harris Nelson, respectively, as a result of August’s municipal elections.