Presiding over Tuesday night’s meeting was Mayor James “Pee Wee” Richardson, who said his absence from the meetings was due to a number of health-related issues. Richardson was released from jail on Sept. 27, 2013, on a $250,000 property bond after being arrested Sept. 19 on charges of sexual misconduct.
“I’ve had a pacemaker put in. I got kidney problems. That’s the reason that I’ve really been out. Right now, I’ve got everything sort of straightened out except for my left leg; it doesn’t want to move,” Richardson said after the meeting.
In regard to operating the city, Richardson said he is still in charge and thinks the city, “needs to readjust and get started back to doing what we need to be doing.”
Once members returned from the executive session, it was smooth sailing for the rest of the meeting until resident Anita Wood asked to speak before the council and address a concern regarding the aforementioned letter. Her brief speech sparked a controversy that blazed throughout the meeting chambers. The letter was brought to the attention of the council by Diane McCollum, who said she had heard these rumors at different businesses in the town.
According to statements in the letter, “The information around town is that someone named Ms. Anita Wood, who is on the water board, has told Sandra Garrison [that] if she votes for her sister, Diane Welch, to get on the city council, she would give Sandra the Kim [Rice] or Lynn [Tolbert] jobs who work in the office where you pay the water bill. ... It is all over town that Mark Chambers and Terry Mason are voting for Anita Wood’s sister, Diane Welch, tonight and Sandra and Mr. Dunn will vote for Nick Keeton, and Jimbo will break the tie in Diane Welch’s favor.”
Recently, the city’s magistrate, Kim Sides, and two utilities workers, Rice and Tolbert, were fired. Garrison, who is the District 1 council representative, explained that she is happy with her current occupation and never filled out an application for the open positions.
“What’s so funny is that I don’t even have an application in over there, so how can I be getting a job if I don’t have an application in over there?” Garrison said after the meeting. “That’s what I’d like for everybody to know, that this rumor has been going around and if I wanted the job, why haven’t I put the application in? That’s just rumors.”
Suzanne Atkins was voted and sworn in Tuesday night to the District 5 council seat that was recently vacated by James Pendley. Atkins said when the position became available she felt, “that maybe I could be a positive input into the city and try to help straighten some stuff out and get things in a good working order. I’m going to do my best to try to represent the people in the district.”
In other business, the council:
•approved the minutes from the Feb. 25 meeting.
•heard from police chief Ron Colburn and street department head Alan May. Colburn said the police department is seeking help from the Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair on two cases.
May said his department is running “good,” but the garbage truck is getting repaired in the shop. He said he is hoping it’s a recall so it won’t be a cost for the city.
•appointed Bobby Dockins, Todd Aaron, Darrel Pate, Steven Tidwell and Bill Prather to the city’s Parks and Recreation board. Richardson and District 3 council member Terry Mason reminded the new board about setting up meetings in the council chambers, working with the city council members and voting for a chairman, vice chairman, secretary and treasurer. They also have to keep minutes and turn those minutes in to the city clerk.
“I know most of you have a kid that’s playing right now that’s put your application in, but you’re still on that board when it comes football time when your kid’s not playing,” District 4 council member Mark Chambers said. “We need you to help then too, you know. ... If you’re going to be on the board, you’ll need to help during all sports.”
•heard from AT&T Alabama President Fred McCallum about the meetings his company has been hosting in the city’s community center and American Legion Post. The next AT&T meeting will be today, March 13, from 4 until 8 p.m. in the community center.
•appointed Cynthia Killingsworth Henderson as the new city magistrate and Andrew Sargent as a new street department employee.
•District 6 council member and mayor pro tem James "Jimbo" Bray Jr. made a motion to return to a previous rule where citizens have to place their name on the agenda the Friday before the next scheduled council meeting in order to speak before council members. The vote passed 4-1 with Mason being the lone vote against the measure. Dunn had left the meeting prior to the vote.
•Welch mentioned that different people within the city were complaining about this past year’s Christmas lights that line the highway and streets in Carbon Hill. She suggested that everybody who has a loved one should adopt a pole in memory of that person, purchase their own Christmas lights and hang them. Welch said she and city clerk Janice Pendley will look at various lights and prices and try to set up a meeting with those who are interested in the possible project.