By Crystal McGough
For the Tribune
CLAY – The Clay City Council unanimously passed a motion Tuesday night to begin the permit process for the Cosby Lake dredging project.
“I got an update from Volkert,” City Manager Ronnie Dixon said. “The Cosby Lake estimate, I guess is the best way to put it, is 48,000 cubic yards that need to be moved, but it can all be stored in the lake. Their estimated cost is $470,000 to $600,000. Everything is based on the cubic yards with the exception of a $40,000 mobility fee. Everything else is based on what they find.”
Dixon said that the process to get the permit alone will take a minimum of nine months, and that it is important for the city to go ahead and begin the process.
“At some point, we’ve got to start it,” he said. “The lake, with another hot spring and summer, this time the lake will – there’s not even a maybe – will get those algae pads on top of it. If you want to do it, we need to give Volkert the ok to begin the permitting process, and that will put us all the way into the next budget year.”
Tuesday night’s motion was not a vote to approve spending the money, but only to move forward with the permit process.
“This is not a motion to do the work,” Councilor Becky Johnson said. “At the end, when we get the permit, we’ll have to come back and vote to spend the half-million dollars.”
Dixon said that he had looked into the possibility of grants, but that none were available for this project. The Fresh Water Land Trust did not have the funds for grants, he said, and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs’ (ADECA) clean water program does not cover lakes. The only other grants he could find were for trails.
“My suggestion would be that we pre-finance it, just like we did the library,” Dixon said. “We’ve got right at $500,000 in Capital Fund right now, which that will be a Capital project. So if we took a percentage of that and then added to it in next fiscal year’s budget, and the same thing the next fiscal year, then we could pre-fund it out of Capital and just pay it back. We have enough reserve to do that.”
Dixon said that the dredging project will have no affect on people walking and fishing at Cosby Lake, but boating may be prohibited during that time. There will be discoloration of the water downstream, he said.
Once the city has the permit, it will have to bid-out the labor. At that point, the project is expected to take up to another nine months.
In other news, the council addressed several school-related topics during the meeting, including having CCMS Counselor and Student Ambassador Sponsor Felicia Willingham, along with several of her student ambassadors, in attendance.
Student ambassadors Chloe Sparks, Jakayla Jackson and Jaylynn Wilson spoke to the council about what the ambassadors do and what it takes to become an ambassador.
“We mentor, we give tours around the school and we host any dance or any upcoming event for our school,” Sparks said.
Jackson said that the ambassadors’ most recent event was selling Valentine’s Day candy grams that would be given out on Wednesday.
“We also host the Back to School dance, Halloween dance, and just any fun events that students may suggest,” she said. “We have a suggestion box, as well.”
Jackson added that, to become an ambassador, students write an essay and do an interview at the end of the school year. Recommendations from teachers help, as well, she said.
“I just started the ambassador program this year,” said Wilson. “I have learned to be more responsible and I think that the student ambassadors have helped a lot of people. We had a can drive. We also had a book drive for Children’s Hospital and we will be donating, I think, $200 to the Breast Cancer Foundation.”
Additionally, Webster said that he received a letter from the Board of Education stating that the city gave $20,000 per school in school grants between Feb. 14, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2017. The council also received “thank you” cards from students and faculty at Clay Elementary for the more-than $18,000 that went toward implementing its new Leader In Me program.
Councilor Dennis Lock announced the January School Grant winners. Second grade teacher Carrie Smith received the grant for Clay Elementary.
“We’ve talked a little bit about The Leader In Me program,” Locke said. “Well, this is a little different (because) instead of buying Chromebooks, she’s buying materials and items that will be used for her daily morning meetings.”
Eighth grade English teacher Andrea Wood received the CCMS grants, which will be used to purchase Chromebooks, and Clay-Chalkville High School’s Engineering and Design teacher Scott Phillips received the funds to purchase materials for in-class experiments.
“This is a project-based class, so the students are doing hands-on projects and experiments for engineering design,” Locke said. “Congratulations to our three school winners.”