County commission to comply, will join lawsuits
The Walker County Commission was joined by its attorney Hank Wiley during a 90-minute executive session on Tuesday afternoon. Wiley said the basis for the meeting was to discuss the direction the Walker County Commission should take concerning ongoing electronic bingo litigation. After the conclusion of the executive session, the commission took no action and adjourned the meeting. Chairman Bruce Hamrick directed all questions concerning the executive session to Wiley.
Wiley said the commission has always welcomed guidance from Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance on all aspects of the electronic bingo issue and that it is the county commission’s desire to comply with every aspect of the law and with what Judge Vance orders.
Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey, through his attorney, filed a motion at last Friday’s bingo hearing in Birmingham to bring the Walker County Commission into the current bingo lawsuits being heard by Vance. Wiley said he expected the commission to be brought into that litigation.
Wiley says that it is the commission's understanding that the county will be made part of the pending litigation. Wiley added that the commission looks forward to being involved and will do our part to help speed up the process in an effort to regulate bingo. He said the commission would not immediately make any decisions regarding electronic bingo.
In other bingo related news, Vance did submit a court order Monday afternoon to immediately shut down Helping Hands Charity Bingo.
Vance stated in the order Helping Hands was not operating under the constitutional amendment for bingo in Walker County, because they were serving as a third party and operating the games on behalf of charities. He said the order was issued after hearing testimony at Friday’s hearing.
In the order, Vance also said the ruling could affect other bingo halls in the future.
In the order, Vance said, “While these conclusions likely create consequences that extend far beyond the pending motion, at this time they apply only to Helping Hands simply because the Court has before it evidence pertaining only to Helping Hands."
votes to split cost of paving work in subdivision
The Jasper City Council voted on Tuesday to split the cost of finishing paving work at Hidden Ridge with the developer of the subdivision.
City attorney Russ Robertson said the developer had agreed to pay $25,000 of the $36,000 needed to apply the final one inch of wearing surface if the city would pay the remaining $11,000.
Robertson said if the paving had been done when the area was developed almost a decade ago, the cost of the project would have been $18,000.
However, city officials gave the developer permission to delay adding the final wearing surface to the roads until more of the lots were sold.
Robertson added that even if the work had been completed, the city likely would have had to pay to repave the roads due to significant construction and increased traffic.
Robertson said he believed the compromise was a legal solution to the situation at Hidden Ridge but noted that similar problems in other subdivisions would not necessarily be resolved in the same way.
Council member Johnny Rollins, who represents the district where the subdivision is located, asked whether the city had the $11,000 to spend on the paving in Hidden Ridge.
Mayor Sonny Posey responded that the funds are available.
District 1 representative Morris Studdard then asked Posey if spending $11,000 in Hidden Ridge would mean less money will be available for other council members to spend in their districts.
Posey said the council should be able to equally split approximately $50,000 that is available from one of the city’s funds.
Studdard said he believed the $11,000 should come out of Rollins’ paving allowance. The motion passed 4-1 with Studdard passing the dissenting vote.
In other action on Tuesday, the council:
Passed a resolution adopting the National Incident Management System, also known as NIMS. City clerk Kathy Chambless said the plan sets out of a course of action in case of a national disaster in the area. Posey, Chambless, Police Chief Bobby Cain and Fire Chief Calvin Kluesner have received training in NIMS classes that was required in order for the city to be eligible for federal grants. The resolution names Kluesner as the coordinator of NIMS implementation. Posey said in the event of an emergency, he will appoint a coordinator based on the type of emergency.
Agreed to allow Posey to make an agreement with Bevill State Community College and the Carl Elliott family concerning the operation of the Carl Elliott House/Museum. The city’s responsibilities in the agreement include caring for the lawn, hanging and watering flower baskets and assisting in getting additional signs for the museum.
Declared a list of items as unneeded surplus so they can be sold at the city’s public auction, which will be held Friday at 3:30 p.m. on the top floor of City Hall.
Voted to allow Posey to sign an agreement with Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging to continue the Meals on Wheels program.
Approved travel for Police Chief Bobby Cain to attend the Alabama Chiefs of Police Training Conference Aug. 2-6.
Argo Community Center fire ruled arson
The Helen Albert Community Center in Argo was destroyed by a fire during the early hours of July 13. That fire has been ruled to be the result of arson.
The ruling came from Phillip Freeman, deputy fire marshall for the state of Alabama who added that the incident is under investigation and that he is unable to release further information at this time..
The Argo Community Center was known as a historic landmark to many people in the Argo community. The community center not only served as a historic marker but was also the home of “In The Midst Ministries,” a community youth center. It also contained two apartments.
If anyone has information about the fire that destroyed the Argo Community Center on July 13, contact the Argo Area Volunteer Fire Department at 648-2202 or the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office at 334-241-4166.