Councilman, Mayor send mixed signals regarding fire station

Demopolis residents turned out in large numbers at Thursday’s city council meeting, concerned over rumors of the closure of Fire Station No. 2 downtown.

Citizens discuss rumored closure of Fire Station No. 2 following Thursday's council meeting.

Citizens discuss rumored closure of Fire Station No. 2 following Thursday’s council meeting.

Though the matter was not addressed during the council meeting, approximately 20 of the citizens discussed the matter with council members afterward outside Rooster Hall.

They got the assurance from council member Charles Jones Jr. that the station would remain open and would be staffed and equipped.

Jones’ comment seemed to contradict what Mayor Mike Grayson told the media moments before inside Rooster Hall.

“Everything is under review – all areas of city operations,” Grayson said. “Our expenses are going like this,” he said pointing upward, “but our income is not.”

While Grayson stopped short of saying the station would close, he implied that all options are on the table. “I have a business downtown and I live three blocks downtown, so personally I would love to see it stay open,” he said. “But as an elected official responsible for the city’s well-being, I have to be willing to make the hard choices.”

During the regular session, the council reviewed a bid from Anderson Plumbing Heating and Electric to replace traffic lights at five intersections. The bid was tabled at Thursday’s meeting, along with a final decision to opt for four-way stops at four of those locations

The four intersections in question are Washington and Main, Walnut and Main, Arcola Road and Third Ave., and Washington and Strawberry.

Council member Harris Nelson suggested traffic flows better with four way stops as supposed to traffic lights. Police Chief Tommie Reese agreed.

The council agreed it would be necessary to replace the light at a fifth intersection, E. Pettus and Front and Arcola Road, a five-way intersection.

Also Thursday, City Attorney Bill Poole told the council he has offered revisions to Advance Disposal for the new garbage pickup contract. The current contract expires Dec. 31. Poole said the two parties are “still haggling over verbiage” but he feels the details will be ironed out.

One issue involves the company escrowing monies to be used to repair streets from damage caused by garbage trucks.

In other matters, the council:

  • Appointed Garry Malone Jr. to the parks and rec board and tabled an appointment to the board of adjustments.
  • Heard the Mayor report that “after four years of working on this, we held our first truck driving class at the New Era Building yesterday. I know that I share y’all’s enthusiasm” for the new program. He added that Shelton State has received a $128,000 grant for welding and industrial maintenance programs at the site.
  • Took no action on previous discussion of reducing the minimum liability insurance coverage required in the city’s catering and chuck wagon/portable vendor ordinance. Grayson recommended that no change be made, and no motion was brought forward from the council.
  • Granted the necessary permits for Christmas on the River at the request of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Recognized Marengo County’s four elected officials in attendance – Sheriff Ben Bates, Probate Judge Laurie Hall, Revenue Commissioner Sharon Barkley and Circuit Clerk Kenny Freeman. Speaking for the group, Hall told those in attendance, “We always want to be available to the public.” Later, during a council executive session, the county officials mingled with the large group of citizens in attendance and answered questions one-on-one.