At the request of a St. Clair County resident, the St. Clair County Commission passed a resolution supporting the formation of another seat on the Pell City Board of Education.

Chester Green of Prescott township appeared at the work session to plead his case to the commission. He said that while up to 62 percent of Pell City High School students lived outside the city limits, and taxes are generated for the Pell City Board of Education from some St. Clair County residents, they were not allowed a voice in the board.

“I believe you’d call that ‘taxation without representation,’ and I believe at one time there was a war fought over that,” the decorated military veteran said.

While addressing the issue at the commission meeting, Chairman Stan Batemon said the resolution simply shows a position on the matter. Legally, he said, there’s not much the state legislature can do, as far as forcing the Pell City Board of Education to create another seat, but the commission supported the concept of making a seat to represent students in unincorporated St. Clair County.

 “This is nothing new, but I understand citizens’ feelings there, and this puts the county commission on the record as having a position. We don’t get off into threatening anybody,” Batemon said.  

Town & Country public hearing

After a brief public hearing, the County Commission agreed to rebate a portion of Town and Country Ford’s sales tax revenues in a new facility to be built in Pell City.

The agreement consists of Pell City and St. Clair County refunding 50 percent of the generated sales tax revenue on gross sales over $5 million for 10 years after a new facility is built. St. Clair County would be responsible for half, with Pell City responsible for the other half.

The $5 million cap is slightly more than the $3 million in revenues that Pell City Ford was generating before Town and Country Ford took over.

During the public hearing, members of the audience reflected some skepticism about the agreement.

“For more than 30 years I’ve bought vehicles from Pell City Ford. My concern with the deal is that the base is too low,” Pell City resident Jack Cropp said, referencing the $5 million floor at which the county would start rebating tax revenue. “It’s not fair to the people who owned the business before, to the city or to the taxpayers to have such a low number. It would be more realistic to use the highest number, or the average of the 10 highest numbers.”

Benjamin Hestley also noted that he asked Town and Country Ford for sponsorship for the John Inzer Museum’s recent bike run and music festival, and was turned down.

“If you’re going to create a partnership, they ought to realize that they need to be involved in the community,” Hestley said, noting that dealerships in Gadsden and Anniston did sponsor the event. “If they’re going to be part of the community, they need to support activities in the community.”

There was also concern over Town and Country developing green space and leaving another empty building in Pell City where the dealership is currently located. However, Batemon said another company is already interested in the current Town and Country Ford building, should they choose to move out of it.

While the commission agreed to look at the figures referred to by Cropp, the commissioners voted on and approved the agreement.

“With all respect to Mr. Cropp and his efforts, I understand where you’re coming from, but this process is at a point where we need to move on it. I’m just sorry we couldn’t have heard you earlier,” Commissioner Paul Maning said.

Scholarships awarded

Winston Massey of Veolia Environmental Services was on hand to present $500 scholarships to 12 high school seniors across St. Clair County.

“Veolia, under four different names, has been please to do this,” Massey said, noting that the program has gone on for nearly 20 years.

Recipients included: Randi Duley and Bianca Hernandez from Ashville High School; Vincent McNeeley and Brittany Calhoun from Moody High School; Chris McDaniel and Meagan Freeman from Pell City High School; Colton Echols and Natalie Alverson from Ragland High School; Steadman Poe and Jamie Dollar from St. Clair County High School; and William Wrenn and Lauren Bowles from Springville High School

In other actions:

— An expenditure of $7,710 to Windstream for annual maintenance of the county’s Voice over IP equipment.

— A bid previously awarded to Brooks Uniforms for the sheriff’s department’s uniforms for the year was rejected due to the company not being able to meet the conditions of the contract. The bid was awarded to the second lowest bidder, McCain’s Uniforms.

— Jimmy Smith was appointed to the Chandler Mountain Water Authority to replace David Cone. Smith had previously resigned from the board for health reasons, and is now well enough to serve again, according to Commissioner Jeff Brown.

— Patricia Bice and Georgie Stevens were approved for declaration of emergency sick leave.

— A personnel contract with Public Information Officer Katie Reese was amended to reflect a pay rate of $18 per hour for 32 hours per week, and a contract with Stan Griffin for the same rate was approved. Griffin will replace Sherry Bowers, who resigned effective March 25.

— A fuel reimbursement of $188 to the city of Springville for Fire Chief Richard Harvey’s trip to Mobile, Ala., to pick up a load of sandbags for the city and the county was approved.

— A payment of $1,000 from Bingo funds was approved to the city of Springville for the annual “Take Your Kid Fishing” event.

— Pamela Harrison was hired for a part-time housekeeping position at the Ashville Courthouse. Len Crow was approved to fill a vacant full-time housekeeping position at the Pell City Courthouse.

— Purchase of a minivan for Public Transportation was approved with escrowed stimulus funding.

— In the Public Transportation department, Joe Thomas was hired into a vacant part-time bus driver position. An additional part-time bus driver position was also created, and a part-time dispatcher position was converted to a full-time position.

— The May 19 County Commission work session will take place at 8 a.m. May 24, prior to the regular meeting in Pell City.

— A  bid to resurface and refurbish the Ragland tennis court was approved for $26,471. The work is expected to be done before school begins again next fall, though it’s possible that it could be completed sooner.

— Four temporary positions from now until the end of October were approved for the road department. The employees will be at a pay grade 6.

— The road department was also approved to put employees on a schedule of rotating 10 hour work days, with one crew working Monday through Thursday, and another working Tuesday through Friday.

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