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Center Point City Council establishes library board, appoints board members

By Nathan Prewett

For the Tribune

CENTER POINT — The Center Point City Council passed several resolutions at a regular meeting on Thursday night. Among the resolutions was the establishment of a library board and the appointment of board members. The library will be implemented at the Hilldale Baptist property, which was bought by the city and will be re-purposed as a recreation center.

Center Point City Council at a meeting on Feb. 22, 2018. Photo by Nathan Prewett.

The council agreed that the board would be made up of three residents with the option of having two from outside of Center Point. At tonight’s meeting, the council appointed five members. All of the members have term limits.

These members were: Laura Farley, a retired Center Point High School teacher for two years; Donna Jolly, a current Center Point High School teacher for two years;  Angie Pace, a Center Point for three years; Mary Skelton, (who Council President Roger Barlow said has experience in grant writing) for a three-year term, and Elma Watkins, a retired teacher for a term of one year.

Jolly, Watkins, and Skelton are from outside of the city. Barlow said that Farley and Jolly have prior experience in library administration.

“This has been a long time in the making,” said Barlow. “This has been a dream for several years right after we came to the city and I’m very excited about this.”

The resolution passed unanimously. It, however, did not pass without some opposition. During the public comments portion – before the library board was voted on – Center Point resident Charles Utterback criticized the inclusion of members from outside the city.

“Do you really think that the city of Center Point is so stupid and uneducated that we can’t run our own library that you have to bring in people from outside of Center Point?” he said. “We’re paying for this. Not Birmingham. Not Pinson. Not the county.”

Barlow tried to respond, saying that the council as the authority to appoint appoint members with experience and knowledge of the city, but the two began a briefly heated exchange over Utterback’s use of the three minutes that he had to make his comments. Barlow then decided not to comment further.

Utterback then brought up stop signs in Center Point, saying that state law dictates that cars are supposed to “roll up” to the crossbars on the road. He said that there have been people not stopping appropriately at the crossbars and that a sheriff’s deputy was seen running a stop sign without lights or sirens.

Utterback said that he would go to a county judge and have an injunction filed against the city to make sure that it “enforce the law as it’s supposed to be enforced.”

Later, after the vote for the board members took place, Barlow said that it’s important to have members from outside the city.

“I appreciate the Center Point residents, I really do, but if we limit our scope of expertise it limits the knowledge put on the board,” he said. “This board’s charge is a very powerful charge to establish and run a library. It’s a very, very important part of the library operation. Having someone who is passionate about it and knowledgeable about it makes it a lot easier and a lot smoother.”

The council later accepted a proposal from the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham to assist the Planning and Zoning board with updating the sign and zoning ordinances. Barlow said that the commission will help in getting rid of inconsistencies and conflicts, as well as filling in gaps, in the ordinances. He said that the ordinances are particularly weak in the mixed-use sections. The proposal was approved for $5,984.99.

Barlow said that the total cost to rewrite the ordinances will be $29,944 but the state will pay for most of it. The process will take approximately six months to complete.

“Folks, this will be the best $6,000 we’ve spent in a long time,” Barlow said. “I really hope that we will do this.”

The council voted to repeal resolution 2018-9, first passed on Jan. 25 this year, and replace it with 2018-9A. The resolution was in regard to additions being made to the senior citizen center in the city. Mayor Tom Henderson said that the resolution incorrectly includes an architect though the council has not appointed one. Everything else in the resolution will remain, he said.

In his comments, Henderson mentioned the passing of two Center Point residents and offered his condolences. Rose Weems, an active member of the neighborhood watch, passed away recently. Joyce Ashley passed away two weeks ago. She was a regular attendant of the council meetings and was a member of a committee that was established to advise on the future library.

“I think Joyce deserves a big voice,” said Councilor Linda Kennemer. “She was the most gracious person to us. Center Point has lost a great and evolved person.”

In other business, the council approved the purchase of equipment for recreational facilities in the city.

The purchase of exercise equipment for the re-purposed Hilldale property, was approved for $24,263. The council approved the replacement of a sewage pump at the Sports Complex Ballpark by the recommendation of Center Point building inspection superintendent Ricky Hinkle. A proposal made by McKay Management for $18,500 was accepted.

The council also approved replacing seven doors at the complex for $5,292. The work will be done by Building Specialties. Three air conditioning units at the complex will be replaced for $18,223.

The council agreed to begin sending out bids for garbage disposal services after Advance Disposal notified that service fees would be increased to $24 per year. The contract with Advance Disposal is set to expire on March 31.

The next Center Point City Council meeting will take place on March 8 with pre-council at 6:45 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. A public hearing will be held on adopting new technical codes at 6:30 p.m. before the meeting.

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