EPA postpones City Council update on REEF
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency postponed an update on its REEF cleanup efforts expected at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Near the end of the hour-long meeting, Councilman Tom Roberts asked what happened with the presentation that was announced by EPA on-scene coordinator David Andrews at the Dec. 5 council meeting. Mayor Doug Murphree said EPA representatives told him Monday they preferred to cancel this update and instead hold a communitywide meeting in January. A handful of citizens were in attendance to hear the presentation, and Roberts said he wanted to make sure they were informed.

Also at the meeting, the council approved the condemnation and demolition of eight properties as part of a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant from the state. More than 50 nuisance properties around the city will be demolished using these funds. Susan Monroe of Monroe and Associates LLC said nine properties have already been torn down, eight more will start this week and 38 are on the list.

Recommended properties have been inspected by the city and deemed uninhabitable. Owners are notified and given an opportunity to show progress toward reviving the structure before the demolition is finalized.

The council approved structures to be demolished at the following locations:

• 511 S. Hammett Avenue, owned by the estate of Girtha Riggins Cook, care of Linda Harvey

• 405 Basement Circle, owned by Majesta Thomason, William Thomason, Bobbie Rae McGhee, Ethel Bell Rhoden and Annie Pearl Allen

• 300 Fifth St., owned by Mackrella Properties, Inc.

• 439 A&B Smith Avenue, owned by Alabama Medicaid Agency, Billie Graves and Johnnie Graves

• 409 Oakland Avenue, owned by Bobby McVea, James Adair, care of Earnest Goggins and Melissa Goggins

• 110 E. Eighth St., owned by heirs and devisees of Marie Rumsey Dark, Robert Rumsey and Tommy Rumsey

• 238 Oak Avenue, owned by heirs and devisees of Marie Rumsey Dark, Robert Rumsey and Tommy Rumsey

• 525 Chappell St., owned by Willie Smith and the State of Alabama

Structures at 415 Morris Avenue, owned by Santos Pena, Jason Stacey and Kenneth Murphy, and 427 Oakland Avenue, owned by James Dennis, were removed from the demolition list after the owners showed substantial improvement toward renovating the property.

The council also voted to waive a customer fee increase of 26 cents per month from Veolia for garbage services that is effective Jan. 1. The city will absorb the cost increase without charging customers to avoid multiple fee increases within a short period of time, as the city is anticipating another increase when its contract with Veolia is up at the end of 2013.

In other business, the council:

• Heard from Police Chief Chris Carden, who read a press release stating that there will be increased patrols to reduce speeding on Magnolia, Country Club and West Walnut streets after complaints from citizens.

• Heard from Councilman Joe Hogan, who commended The Home Depot for its $11,100 donation to American Legion Post 45 to provide materials and volunteer labor to renovate the organization’s building.

• Held two public hearings relative to the rezoning of properties and received no public input. The council approved the rezoning of properties at 681 Dairyland Road and 243 and 250 Indian Valley Drive to R-1, and a request to rezone the property at 103 S. Mobile Avenue belonging to Danny Johnson was withdrawn via a letter from Johnson.

• Approved a request to distribute $15,914.80 from the Talladega County Commission to Parks and Recreation as a local match for a 30-passenger van purchased for the senior center. This was agreed upon when Sylacauga accepted the Sycamore senior program.

• Approved a request from Fire Chief Matt Missildine to seek bids for a new fire engine to replace a 1996 Sutphen engine that was deemed unreliable and removed from service.

• Approved a request from Missildine to apply for a fire safety and prevention grant to purchase a fire safety trailer. The budget is $75,000 with a 5 percent local match and a 5 percent grant writer fee contingent upon award.

• Approved expenses for Police Chief Chris Carden to attend the AACOP winter conference in Montgomery on Jan. 28-31 and for Missildine to attend the Fire Chiefs Executive Development Conference in Tuscaloosa on Feb. 5-8. The fee is $175 each.

• Authorized payments of $130,874.91 for accounts payable and $374,563.23 for payrolls and approved all checks, transfers and financial statements for November.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.

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