Council member Jennifer Williams Smith introduced Harris to the council and commended him for representing Jasper in a positive manner during his audition that aired last week.
Harris, who turned 23 last Tuesday, received rave reviews from “Idol” judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. and advanced to compete in Hollywood, which begins tonight. Locally, “American Idol” airs on Fox 6 beginning at 7 p.m.
“Last Wednesday night, we heard Jasper. Ala., around the nation,” Smith told the council and those gathered for Tuesday’s meeting. “I immediately saw social media blow up, and people started calling and talking about how awesome and sweet C.J. was. All of us who know him know that that’s just C.J. Harris.”
What makes him so special, Smith said, is Harris’ desire to contribute to the community he lives in.
“He is someone who gives back to his community,” she said. “He’s also a prime example of no matter what you go through, with God in your life, you can stand up and you can overcome all of your troubles. I am so proud that people all over the nation are seeing C.J. Harris. As a mentor for our community, I have to just say thank you so much to him.”
Smith said “America Idol” contestants begin what’s called “Hollywood Week” Wednesday night, and she is encouraging everyone to watch the popular singing competition and support Harris.
“I want you to watch C.J. on there and see how proud he is to be from Jasper,” she said.
Harris, who is contractually obligated to not reveal a lot on how the show is progressing, said he’s proud of the support he’s received since last week’s show.
“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but Walker County,” Harris said. “The people here are the ones who will be behind me for the rest of my life. I appreciate every last one of you and you each mean so much to me.”
In other business, council members:
•approved the minutes of the Jan. 21 meeting.
•recognized Al Blanton regarding advertising in 78 Magazine.
Blanton said the magazine, which is published quarterly each year, is expanding its coverage area to include Birmingham and other areas of the state.
•accepted more than $1,200 in funds contributed for fire prevention programs from various businesses and individuals.
•heard from city purchasing agent Tommy Knight and park and rec director Mickey Davis regarding renewing contracts for umpires for Jasper Parks and Recreation activities.
Softball officiating will be handled by the Jasper Umpires Association, while baseball will be conducted by the Walker County Baseball Umpires Association.
•Knight also addressed the council with a request to send bid invitations for a rescue truck for the Jasper Fire Department.
•approved an emergency expenditure of $1,900 to repair two loops at the traffic signal at the intersection of Airport Road and Ridgewood Road.
Mayor Sonny Posey, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, had previously declared the situation as an emergency.
•introduced a budget amendment regarding a line item transfer for the city’s parks and recreation department, and a request from the Children’s Advocacy Center for $10,000.
A separate budget amendment was needed to cover expenses caused by city employees who are about to retire. Employees, upon retirement, are paid accumulated sick leave.
•adopted a resolution setting costs for work done under the city’s nuisance abatement ordinance.
•adopted a resolution in support of state banking regulations and to encourage state legislators to enact new and tougher laws concerning payday and title loan businesses.
There are currently 13 businesses in the city that offer payday and title loans, city clerk Kathy Chambless told council members.
•heard from Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe, who hopes to institute a reserve officer program for the city’s police department.
Rowe said the program, which could utilize retired officers, could serve as a great recruiting tool for the department.
•heard from Bill Cleghorn, who expressed his disappointment with the Walker County Commission regarding its decision to delay turning over the deed to the building that houses the county’s animal shelter to the city.