The town of Cleveland held a special council meeting on Dec. 5 to discuss, according to the minutes, three matters, two related to the park and its readiness for the upcoming “Christmas in the Park” celebration.
The first concerned the need for a new sound system, according to Councilman Doug Hill. Hill presented the council with an estimate of $4,150 for the purchase and installation of a new system. A motion to approve the purchase was passed unanimously.
The second park issue was brought before the council by utilities superintendent Steve Pass, and it involved the need to install two new lights and repair another in order to have adequate lighting. Pass said the cost would be about $250 per light. The council unanimously passed a motion to spend up to $750 for this project.
Finally, Mayor Jerry Jones informed the council of the need to amend the town’s ordinance regarding the sale of alcohol on Election Day. According to Jones, the state of Alabama had determined the prohibition now in place is unconstitutional and each municipality should change its ordinance to allow sales. He pointed out Oneonta and Blountsville had already done so.
In order for the council to immediately consider an amended ordinance, they had to pass a motion to suspend the rules, which they did with the mayor and councilmen Hill, Sherry White and Glenn Puckett voting in favor while Councilman James Bynum voted against. This move will allow the council to vote on the amended ordinance at its next meeting.
Councilman Tommy Swindle was not present at the special meeting.
At the regular meeting on Dec. 14 the ordinance amending the Election Day alcohol sales was passed unanimously by the members present, Mayor Jones and councilmen Hill, White and Swindle. Councilmen Puckett and Bynum were absent.
Councilman Hill reported the new sound system approved at the special called meeting had been purchased and is “ready to go” for the Christmas festival.
Mitchie Neel of the Blount County Education Foundation thanked the council for its support of the foundation and the grants the council helps to provide to teachers at schools in Cleveland. Neel called the council “superstars” and presented a certificate of appreciation. She reported the town of Cleveland’s four grant recipients for 2017/2018 are Leigha Rogers of Cleveland Elementary School, Mitsi Weems of Cleveland High School, Paige Moore of the Learning Center and Heather Nanney of the Career Technical Center.
Town clerk Mary Newsom informed the council that some people had approached the town and wanted to donate $5,000 towards the purchase of the planned batting cage for the girls’ softball team. She did not name the potential donors, but said they wanted to attend the next park board meeting and talk about their plans. Councilman Swindle commented they had raised about that amount and a donation of that size would certainly help meet their goal.
The mayor asked Newsom to explain the need to engage an automated call service for the utilities department. She said that currently the employees spend a lot of time contacting water customers about late bill notices and this would free up their time. She and Pass said it could also be used to inform customers of cutoffs, leaks in their area and upcoming repairs. The mayor added it could be used for announcements from the town, as well. The service will cost $300 a year and the council agreed to purchase the service from a company called One Source.
The mayor reported the paving of the town’s roads was almost complete. He said there had been a delay due to a breakdown of the construction company’s asphalt plant, but repairs were underway. While talking about the roads, Hill brought up the issue of the steep shoulders on Blackwood Bend Road saying they are dangerous. The mayor said that once the paving project is completed and the final cost is ascertained, the town would have a better idea of the state of the budget and could deal with that issue. He acknowledged the problem and assured Hill it would be addressed.
Superintendent Pass and the mayor asked the council to approve making the part-time employee of the utilities department a full-time position. Pass said the move would allow him to reduce the amount of overtime now having to be “regularly” scheduled. The mayor said there was enough money allotted already without having to amend the current budget. The council unanimously agreed to the proposal.
Mayor Jones introduced the town’s new police officer, Jacob Heaton, who said he was “blessed to serve the wonderful citizens of Cleveland.”
John Hallman addressed the council and the audience to introduce himself as a candidate for sheriff in next year’s election. He is a Blountsville resident currently working for the Gadsden Police Department.
The council regularly meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the town hall.