Pell City Council decides on redistricting map

Pell City -- After a public hearing Monday night, the Pell City Council agreed to create an ordinance for Map 3 of the redistricting proposals in a 5-1 vote.

During the hearing, J.T. Carter objected to all three proposal maps, saying he disagreed with the housing authority no longer being represented in District 2. The housing authority was formerly included in District 2.

"Leaving out the public housing authority is not right," Carter said.

Brett Isom of the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham said omitting the housing authority was necessary to maintain District 2 as a minority district. Isom drafted all three of the proposal maps.

"We face the same challenges as we did last time," councilman Donnie Todd said, relating the current situation to the last time the city went through the redistricting process ten years ago.

According to Isom, 70 percent of those residing in the housing authority are white, so if it were included in District 2, that district would no longer be considered a minority district.

Based on numbers provided by the U.S. 2010 Census, Isom said each district should have 2.539 people, allowing for a 5 percent deviation recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice. The numbers presented in Map 3 show District 1 as having a minus 1.5 percent, District 2 a minus 10.7 percent, District 3 a plus 5 percent, District 4 a 14.7 percent and District 5 a minus 7.5 percent deviation.

Council member Dot Wood voted against the Map 3 proposal believing the Department of Justice will question the wide range in deviations, which would send it back to the council, forcing the council to adopt another proposal before the end of December.

During the meeting Mayor Hereford and the council presented proclamations of achievement, recognition and declaration. Judge Alan Furr was honored for his years of service to Pell City and his continued service as the recently appointed district judge of St. Clair County. Former city clerk Jennifer Brown was presented with a proclamation of recognition for her service as the city clerk for Pell City since June of 2008. Brown resigned two weeks ago.

Mayor Hereford presented a proclamation to the Boys and Girls Club of Pell City, declaring Nov. 17 as a city wide day of awareness for anti-bullying. Students in Pell City schools have partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to create Anti-Bullying Week, Nov. 14-18, a program similar to Red Ribbon Week,

"These young people have really taken a lead in the community. Nobody's done it like they have," Mayor Hereford said.

Lakeside Hospice was also presented with a proclamation for hospice month, recognizing their dedication to hospice care in Pell City. More than 1.5 million people receive hospice care nationwide. The proclamation declared Nov. 11 as a day of recognition for hospice care. On Friday Lakeside Hospice celebrates 20 years of openly offering their services to the community. The organization has never turned a patient away, regardless of ability to pay.

In other actions:

  • The council approved the hire of three city attorneys: Lyle Harmon, John Rhea and Brandi Williams.
  • Upon Jennifer Brown's resignation as City Clerk, the council appointed Penny Isbell as acting City Clerk.
  • Jennifer Brown was removed and Penny Isbell was added as signatory for Metro Bank, Union State Bank, BB&T Bank, Regions Bank, Aliant Bank and RBC Bank.
  • A pay grade was set for the City Manager position of $72,000-103,000.
  • A pay grade of $47,300-63,169 was set for the recently approved Assistant Fire Chief position. The Fire Chief also received authorization from the council to proceed with posting and fill the Assistant Fire Chief position.
  • The council authorized the Fire Chief to expend budgeted funds from the HazMat line item to purchase HazMat equipment. The council granted approval for future HazMat equipment to be obtained through a program administered by the Department of Energy. Items that are not considered big-ticket items may be selected online at no cost to the Fire Department. The only possible expense is the shipping of those items.
  • Police Chief Turley asked the council to consider soliciting bids for new police vehicles. The police department is looking at leasing five vehicles. The council approved the request along with a request to solicit bids for equipment for the new cars.
  • The council approved soliciting bids for equipment through the Library Grant