By John Brice
The LaFayette City Council met on Monday, July 25th of 2023 at the Chambers County Farmers Federation Agricultural Center at the ALFA building in LaFayette. In attendance were Mayor Kenneth Vines, Councilman Terry G. Mangram, Councilman David Ennis, Councilman Toney B. Thomas, Councilman Michael C. Ellis and Councilwoman Tammie B. Williams. City Clerk Louis T. Davidson, Assistant City Clerk Diane W. Perry, City Attorney Joseph M. Tucker, Police Chief George Rampey and Street, Sanitation and Cemetery Superintendent George Green were also present. The meeting began with an invocation led by Chief Rampey and standard procedures such as roll call as well as approval of the minutes from the previous meeting.
First on the agenda was a proclamation for a Day of Prayer for Chambers County in 2023 with Assistant City Clerk Perry taking to the podium to address the council. Perry expressed her gratitude for Mayor Vines and the council as well as the cities of Valley and Lanett. Providing context for the sanctified occasion, Perry explained that God had started the Day of Prayer in September of 2001 only days before the attacks on 9/11. Chambers County had gotten a head start all those years ago since they were already praying as they had gathered around the courthouse.
Perry announced that this year the event will be observed on Friday, August 4th at 6pm CST at the east side of courthouse where there will also be a school supply giveaway at which point the motion was approved.
Adrian Holloway took to the podium next to provide an update on efforts to reclaim the J.P. Powell Middle School building from the Chambers County School District for its proposed future use as a community center. Holloway stated that there had been a meeting with city officials and representatives from the Equitable Neighborhoods Initiative to discuss various potential funding sources such as the USDA and ADECA. Going forward there is the need for a strategic planning session to further develop a vision for the community center in which Dr. Arturo Menefee from ENI is prepared to meet with the mayor and entire council which Holloway requested a proposed date for that meeting.
Councilwoman Williams asked if the city had heard back from CCSD Superintendent Casey Chambley to which Mayor Vines said that he had in fact responded and expressed his interest in meeting with the city to discuss the matter. Councilwoman Williams asked for the mayor to propose a date for the meeting to get the ball rolling to which Mayor Vines asked if it should be open to the public. Williams agreed with the idea of inviting the public to which Councilman Thomas concurred and proposed publishing a public notice at which point the motion was approved.
Allen Tucker from Harmon Engineering & Contracting Co., Inc. was up next with an update on the City Lake Spillway Project. Tucker summarized the project and its design by stating that the project is complete and at this point just needs the grass to grow with all the construction being done. Installation of a new primary spillway was completed which replaced the old structure with a new one featuring steeper angles and wider pipes that discharge from a flume to a basin. From there the water continues to a solid rock bed creek now that they have poured a new concrete spillway.
Chief among Tucker’s recommended maintenance items going forward is that no longer can trees and shrubs be allowed to grow on the dam area since their roots cause issues. Chambers County has agreed to maintain the right of way area since they consider that to be their responsibility. In the future the new pipes and overflow structure will be the city’s responsibility having completed a good project with a great effort by a lot of people.
Councilman Thomas asked for an update on the upcoming work on Hospital St. to which Tucker responded that progress had been made on design drawings and field surveying with the drawing drafts expected to be completed by Wednesday. From there they would need to be sent to the Army Corps of Engineers for approval at which point there will be a requirement for the publication of advertisements regarding contract bids.
Councilman Mangram asked about a timeline for this work to be completed since it is greatly inconveniencing many residents particularly with a new school year about to begin. Past issues with contractors working slowly and falling behind schedule should be avoided according to Mangram who expressed the sentiment that once it is bidded on lets get it done.
Allen Tucker estimated the project should cost roughly $400,000 to which City Attorney Mac Tucker emphasized that the vote that really matters is when the bids come in at which point the motion was approved to authorize moving forward with the project.
Next on the agenda the council revisited a Notice of Claim by Mr. Bobby Carr in which the city approved a motion to pay him $709 in charges and then approved a motion to deny a claim by Ms. Betty Jemison who had fallen down outside on the sidewalk in front of the post office. After a brief discussion on possible construction at a new city hall location the council approved Resolution No. 2023-07-24-01 for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program Administrative Services and the meeting was adjourned.