Oneonta agrees to $6 million loan, woos industry



Oneonta city manager and economic development officer Ed Lowe shared Wallace State – Oneonta figures at the city council’s latest meeting. Lowe reported campus director Dr. Kelley Jones had informed him that 230 students had signed for some 500 seats for the campus’s fall term. Officials expect that figure to rise before classes begin Aug. 17.

With those figures, Lowe said Wallace needs additional classroom space. He said he has instructed Jones, essentially, not to turn any away and that the city will find space.

He told the council that the city has offered its Little Brick Church for four classes. He also told The Blount Countian that additional space is available in the building in front of the present campus’s main office. The city will need to renovate that area for classes, however. He said there are four classrooms and a computer lab at the present site.

Councilor Tonya Rogers asked of paving the church parking lot, and Lowe said that has always been in the plans. He said they have waited for settling before proceeding with that, but by now the lot should be ready for moving forward.

Related to the space problem and the city’s long-term plan for Wallace – Oneonta, the council voted to accept a $6 million loan quote from HomeTown Bank for new campus construction. Terms explained by Lowe to The Blount Countian provide for a three-year construction loan and a 25-year payback with a fixed interest rate of 3.5 percent. Peoples Bank had also offered a proposal but with terms Lowe felt less attractive. Peoples listed a 3.5-percent figure but as a variable rate and only a two-year construction window. Business recruitment

In his regular report to the council, Lowe revealed the city is competing with other Alabama sites for two industries. While he would not name either presently, the larger projects a 250,000- square-foot facility employing 250 workers.

He also reported the week’s planned opening of Daylight Donuts and continued work on three other eateries: Pounders, Swamp Tales, and Toke. Responding to query from Rogers, he said the announced Zaxby’s would likely not open before early winter. Election actions

The council voted to pay its Aug. 23 municipal election workers the standard rates. Poll officials will receive $125 a day, provided they have attended the special election worker orientation. The city will also provide lunch for the workers.

City clerk Tammie Noland, who has been named election manager and absentee official, will receive $50 a day for each day from the receipt of printed ballots until the election. The council agreed to schedule the election’s official canvass for noon of Aug. 30 at city hall. Other matters

Councilman Danny Robinson asked the status of the city’s effort to re-establish its recycling program. Lowe reviewed previously listed problems of household items and trash being left at the central recycling bin location. He said that the bin needed to be at a supervised site.

Lowe explained the city could opt for a return to curbside recycling but that that would be as expensive as the current mandatory garbage pickup. He suggested the council might hold a public hearing to gauge the populace on that idea.

Councilors voted to contract with DAC (Digital Assurance Certification) bonding of Orlando to guarantee the city remains in compliance with SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) regulations. The service entails a $2,500 initial setup and annual fee charge, with an ongoing $1,500 fee for following years.

Councilors agreed to Chuck Gillespie’s request to annex property adjacent to the Overbrook subdivision he previously developed. The property lies across a road from the present city limits.

On a motion from councilor Tim McNair, the body agreed to declare two police vehicles as surplus. The 2005 and 2008 Ford Crown Victorias will be placed on the govdeals website for purchase.

Councilman Hal Blackwood missed the Aug. 9 session attended by Mayor Ross Norris and councilman Mark Gargus along with Rogers, Robinson, and McNair. The council’s next meeting, the second of its twice monthly (second and fourth Tuesdays), will be Aug. 23 at 5:30 p.m. in city hall. Rep. David Standridge report

Norris invited Alabama House of Representative member David Standridge, who attended the session, to speak. Standridge reviewed his thoughts, previously detailed in The Blount Countian, that the odds of the Governor’s succeeding in getting his proposed lottery amendment passed during his called special session appear slim.

Other points of interest he raised included the almost certain selection of Mac McCutcheon as the new speaker of the house. McCutcheon, of the Capshaw community in Limestone County near Huntsville, was selected Monday and becomes the first speaker from north of Montgomery in nearly 40 years. He has won approval of the house Republican caucus. Republicans hold a 70-33 majority in the house with two vacancies, currently.

Of the lottery amendment bill, which must pass by Aug. 24 to appear on the state’s November ballot, Standridge held that the state senate will be addressing that, while the house considers other matters. He identified, specifically, the dispute over BP payment allocations as an issue he envisions coming before the house.

Quizzed later, Standridge noted that the BP matter cannot be passed in the special session without a super-majority (two-thirds) vote unless it appears in the Governor’s call for the session. In response to Lowe’s question of the Governor’s previously proposed increase in state fuel taxes, Standridge discounted the likelihood of its consideration.

After his first presentation, Standridge asked for another moment to speak. He then advised the council of his wife Danna’s selection as president of the Legislative Club, which consists of spouses of legislative members.