CARBON HILL - Carbon Hill Mayor Mark Chambers Chambers announced that he had signed papers for the U.S. Interstate 22 lighting project on Exit 46, and that work on the project should be done by late this fall.
A preconstruction and prebid meeting will be held Thursday at 11 a.m., and on Aug. 22 bids will be taken on the job, he said.
"Approximately 30 days after that, we should start construction on the interstate, installing our lights. They said between 35 and 60 days is what the project should take to be done," Chambers said. "That will help the truck stop up there and that should recruit a lot more business to that exit when we get the lights on the interstate."
Chambers said the Chevron truck stop's owners, Donnie Naramore and Maeburn Naramore, noted they do well during daylight hours, but when it is dark people are afraid to get off the exit because there are no lights. "This will really help with the business on that exit," he said.
District 2 Councilman Clarence Colbert said, "Jasper is the only place on I-22 where you come into (a city, like) Jasper, it is lit up. It is lit up to where you can see everything. I would like to see our exit like that."
Chambers said he has requested LED lighting, but he noted the exit will not have as many lights as what Jasper has. He said the city will apply for another grant in the future to get a bigger set of lights to go with it.
As Chambers was about to adjourn the meeting, he then started responding to spontaneous questions from the audience that had not been scheduled. In response to a question on the interstate project, the mayor said the lights would be brought down the exit "and they will turn one light toward the bridge, is my understanding. I've asked for lights to be put under the bridge," but the Alabama Department of Transportation told him they didn't now if that was possible. All the wiring has to be underground on the state property at the intersection, he said.
Chambers said the city might still could look into what it could do in the area, noting the area from the Shell station near the school complex down to the truck stop is very dark.
In other action, the council:
• Voted 4-0 with two abstentions to approve Patrick Herron, to be a CDL driver. "We finally got a CDL driver to apply for the job," Chambers said. District 1 Council member Cindy Killingsworth, who was appointed at the start of the meeting, did not vote as she said she doesn't know anyone yet. Patrick Herron is the brother-in-law of District 3 Councilwoman April Herron, so the councilwoman abstained.
• Went into executive session for 18 minutes to discuss the good name and character of an employee. The mayor called for the executive session, which was not on the agenda.
• Approved paying Hibbett Sports $2,240.50 for Little League pants and pads, along with an additional $536.50 reimbursement to parent Ron Crumbley, who purchased helmets so that practice could start. Money had come out of the General Fund for the equipment, but City Clerk NanetteBrown said Park and Recreation funds would reimburse the General Fund.
• Agreed to allow the court clerk and magistrate to attend the Municipal Court Summit on Aug. 15-16 in Birmingham. The seminar is free of charge.
• Heard Chambers say he had provided three draft ordinances to the council members concerning video games and mechanical amusement devices. "I would like for you to look over them the next couple of weeks and let's make a decision on what we are going to do with that at the next meeting," he said. No further elaboration on the ordinances was made during the meeting.
• Heard Chambers announce Hillfest would be held Sept. 13-14 and that anyone wanting to bre a vendor needs to contact festival organizer Anita Hill at 205-275-8475.
• Heard District 6 Councilman Greg Anderson ask where the city is on its financial audits. Brown said officials are working on it, and a meeting concerning the audits was scheduled the next day. Chambers said the city's first priority is to get the audits completed, and has asked Killingsworth, April Herron and others to help Brown when she needs extra help.
• Heard a request from Judy Hurst of the Carbon Hill Women's Club to allow the club to have an outdoor yard sale in October at the Blue Gym area, adding the community could also rent booths. The club will be responsible for cleanup. The council voted to give the club approval.
• Heard a request for cutting trees near the nursing home. The mayor said he would see that was done.
• Heard Chambers note a recent storm "blew the top in on half" of the old city barn. He said city crews are waiting for the extreme heat alert to pass before tackling clean up efforts there, and allow people to get any metal or labor they might want. However, he noted much of the lumber was already rotted, which led to the collapse.
• Heard Colbert bring up a ditch situation that needed to be dealt with.
Unlike the last couple of council meetings, where LGBTQ protesters and outside media showed up concerning recent remarks the mayor made online, Monday's meeting was more routine and casual, with no extra law enforcement presence in the room. City officials and attendees milled about more freely in the council chambers before and after the meeting. One person was seen holding a protest sign during the council meeting, but the mayor's remarks were not brought up.
Hometown Action, which has protested the mayor's comments, released a statement on Monday saying that on Aug. 8 it "worked with local leaders to facilitate a community meeting on the future of Carbon Hill. Participants talked through local changes they would like to see, including greater integrity and transparency by city government, collaboration by elected officials with the local community, and implementation of a strong non-discrimination ordinance. Residents also stressed an ongoing interest in the resignation of Mayor Chambers. Several community residents expressed their belief that nothing would change in the town as long as he remained mayor." A spokeswoman later said a dozen people attended the meeting.