Demopolis City Council begins new term

Probate Judge Cindy Neilson swears in the Demopolis City Council and Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson Monday afternoon. The council includes Charles Jones Jr. Bill Meador, Cleveland Cole, Harris Nelson and Mitchell Congress.

Monday afternoon marked the official beginning of the new term for the Demopolis City Council as each member of the group and Mayor Mike Grayson were each sworn in by Probate Judge Cindy Neilson.

After the installment of the council, the city’s governing body began to tackle an agenda that included the appointment of Mayor Pro Tem.

District 3 council representative Harris Nelson nominated Bill Meador while Charles Jones Jr. nominated Mitchell Congress.

“This will be my last term. I will be retiring after this term, if not before. So I decline the nomination of Mayor Pro Tem,” Congress told the council before nominating Jones for the post. The vote ultimately went to Meador.

Other business tended to Monday included the amending and adoption of Resolution 2012-25, which gives the mayor authority to enter into agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation regarding the establishment of a new roadway to the city’s port.

“We have already agreed that this will be to build a new roadway out at the port. But ALDOT says that we need a resolution to make this official,” Grayson said of the need for the resolution.

The council also heard from Jason Pendergrass, director of the Demopolis Municipal Airport. Pendergrass is seeking council approval to apply for a $1.3 million grant that would resurface the airport’s taxiway, build security fencing and remove several trees at the facility. The grant would call for matching funding of five percent from the city, a percentage that would call for approximately $65,000 in Demopolis funds should the entirety of the grant be approved.

The city council selected Thursday at 5:15 p.m. as the time for a special called meeting to discuss the grant.

The council also received its assignments to the city’s various boards. In a move new to this administration, members of the council will also be appointed as liaisons to entities such as the Demopolis City Schools Board of Education, the hospital board, the Board of Adjustments and the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce Board.

“If the city is directly giving money into that, I would like for the city to at least be an observer. Not cast a ballot,” Grayson said of the thought process behind the appointment of liaisons to such entities. “More times than not, when they have a question, they’ll say, ‘We need to go to the city.’ But with a councilman or a mayor who is there, might be able to give a preliminary indication of ‘Okay, that’s a good idea’ or ‘I don’t know. We’ll have to bring it up.’ That’s what it’s all about is just to have open lines of communication.”

The city council will have its first regularly scheduled meeting of the new term Thursday, Nov. 15 at 5:15 p.m. At that time, the council will undergo the process of reviewing and appointing department heads.

“Very optimistic. I think that we’ll be off to a good start,” Grayson said of his hopes for the new administration. “Knowing the personalities, I think that we’ll all be able to communicate. I don’t see really anybody taking an entrenched position. I’m very optimistic.”