Council approves $11K for VISTA worker
by Daniel Gaddy
Oct 04, 2012 | 1832 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Jasper City Council voted to spend $11,000 to pay for a worker dedicated to attracting businesses to the city.

The funds will pay the stipend for a nonprofit worker called a VISTA. Americorps VISTAs, or Volunteers in Service to America, make a year-long commitment to serve with a nonprofit organization or public agency in exchange for a modest living allowance and health benefits.

Twelve VISTAs serve in Walker County and are overseen by the Walker Area Community Foundation.

Five months ago, the council was approached with the idea of a VISTA by Debbie Young Sanders, director of the Jasper Downtown Merchants Association.

Though the Jasper DMA is known for organizing Jasper’s First Friday events, the group also works to promote business in the downtown area.

Sanders told the council she would be stepping down as director because two of her full-time employees at Young’s Jewelers were retiring.

During that meeting, Sanders introduced the council to Kay Moore, director of Downtown Gadsden, Inc., a nonprofit community partnership seeking to revitalize Gadsden’s downtown area.

Moore told the Jasper City Council of the benefits Gadsden’s leaders saw after they hired a full-time worker to promote the area. She said the occupancy rate for the city’s downtown district swelled from 60 percent in the 1980s to 92 percent.

At Tuesday’s Jasper City Council meeting, the measure to pay for the VISTA passed unanimously. “This will be a big help to promote our city,” Council Member Morris Studdard said.

Sanders was also present at the meeting and said she was delighted by the council’s decision.

“Be looking for really great things to happen,” she said.

In other business, the council:

•Approved a 60-day operating budget. City Clerk Kathy Chambless said it covers the city’s normal operating expenses based on estimates from last year. Though the new fiscal year began on Oct. 1, she said city leaders were not yet ready to map out the entire year’s budget.

•Adopted a resolution authorizing the City of Jasper’s involvement in the Alabama China Partnership’s Fall Symposium. The progam helps connect industries in China with communities in Alabama in an effort to promote industrial development.

•Approved road closures for the fall festivals of Durr’s Chapel United Methodist Church on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (at Euclid Avenue and Crutchfield Boulevard), and Jasper’s First Baptist Church at 5 p.m. on Oct. 31 (closing 5th Avenue between 15th and 17th streets).

•Approved a request to close Barker Street from Josephine Street to Gray Avenue on Oct. 13 for West Jasper Day.

•Approved a request to allow Curry High School to hold a 5K run at North Jasper Park on Saturday Nov. 3, starting at 9 a.m.

•Approved a request by Council President Sandi Sudduth to attend training for the Alabama Community Leadership Program. She said the expenses will include $175 to register at the conference and an overnight hotel stay in Prattville.

•Approved travel expenses for two parks and recreation employees to go along with the local competitors of the Senior Masters Games in Alexander City.