New park for Cleveland?

Cleveland’s town council held its regular monthly meeting last Thursday.

On the agenda was a discussion about salaries for the mayor and council. Mayor Jerry Jones formed a committee consisting of councilmen Tommy Swindle and Doug Hill and town clerk Mary Newsome to look at the current pay and determine if it needed to be raised or not. Swindle and Hill said the committee had canvassed other local towns and determined that Cleveland’s council and mayor were paid the least. Currently, the mayor receives $400 a month and each council member is paid $100 a month. Swindle suggested the salaries be doubled – raised to $800 for the mayor and $200 for each council member. Jones pointed out that if they voted to raise the salaries, it would not go into effect until the next municipal elections, which are over a year away. Jones also said that as mayor, he spends at least 20 hours a week working at the town hall. Swindle noted that meant he was working as mayor about 80 hours a month and a salary of $800 was the equivalent of $10 per hour. No action was taken. The matter was tabled at the mayor’s suggestion and will be discussed at next month’s meeting.

Jones announced that local business Alabama Guard Rail will be receiving the “Industry of the Year Award” at the upcoming Chamber of Commerce banquet.

In park business, Jones asked the council to renew the park’s concession stand contract with Kala Thomas. The council was also asked to purchase a new John Deere 24-hp tractor which will be used to drag the ballfields. Jones said the listed price was $7,084, but they would receive a discount and it would cost the town $5,650. Utilities superintendent Steve Pass explained the tractor they are using is at least 15 years old and not running very well. The council agreed to both requests unanimously.

The mayor said since last month’s meeting, when the possibility of a new park with a walking track around a pond was discussed, he has been in contact with engineering/architectural firm Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood to discuss the project. He said the company has done a preliminary survey and, if no one objected, they would move ahead with searching for grants to underwrite the project. No one objected. Swindle asked that a sign be erected announcing the future site of a new park. Jones estimated the cost of the sign would be about $200, and the council approved spending that much on a sign.

Jones told the council there was a need to have an engineering study of the sewage system. Heavy rains have caused an increase in discharge. The town is seeking a grant for up to $30,000 to pay for the study. The grant would not require any matching funds.

Jones informed the council that none of the data collected by the town or the utilities department is being backed up off-site. He asked the council to approve a contract with Carolina Networks, Inc. (CNI) at a cost of $225 per quarter. The council agreed to do so without dissent.

The mayor reported the work on the police department’s handbook is on-going. Jones said he, police chief Bill Ferry, and town attorney Alex Smith, are making progress.

Councilman Hill noted there were a lot of cars exceeding the speed limit on Five Points Road and Blackwoods Bend Road. Jones said he would have the police department look into it. Hill and Swindle both offered complements to the department and noted it had improved immensely since Ferry become chief.

The council is composed of the mayor and councilmen Hill, Swindle, Sherry White, James Bynum, and James Sullivan. All were present. The council’s regular meeting is the second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at the town hall.