4 residents attend District 1 community meeting; lively discussion held
by David Atchison
PELL CITY – The attendance was small, but the discussions about city business were lively as officials met with District 1 residents Tuesday night.

“We didn’t have many people, but we had active discussions,” said Mayor Joe Funderburg.

The mayor and City Manager Patrick Draper meet with four District 1 residents at Fire Station No. 4 in Eden Tuesday night.

Funderburg said District 1 Council representative Jay Jenkins was unable to attend because he was out of town, but they will return to talk and listen to District 1 residents again.

“We’re going to come back down here, and hopefully we’ll have more people,” he said.

Funderburg said this is the first of many community meetings the city is holding every month, meeting with residents from individual council districts.

“Every area has something different (issues),” Funderburg said.

He said in District 1, some people are concerned about the temporary closing of the Wolf Creek Bridge along U.S. 78.

“I’ve already received a couple of calls about it from business people,” he said.

He said city officials will hold community meetings once a month in each district, and there are plans for another meeting in February.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Funderburg said about Tuesday night’s attendance. “We welcome and encourage people to attend. This gives us an opportunity to let everyone know what we are doing, and it also gives us a chance to get out and see the people, interact with them.”

He was uncertain when and where the next meeting is being held, but the city will try and publicize the meeting.

“I really believe in communication,” Funderburg said. “We want to sit down with people and tell them what we are doing. We do not want any mysteries or secrets. We want to be open.”

The community meetings also provide an opportunity for residents to voice concerns and even offer possible solutions for city problems.

Residents asked numerous questions and even offered their opinions on city matters at Tuesday night’s informal meeting. The meeting lasted about one and a half hours.

“We are trying to work for the people of Pell City, for the benefit of the people,” Funderburg said.

The topics at the meeting varied from the city’s debt, the new city library proposal, growth, the delivery of water, to the paving of streets and more.

Funderburg talked about the commercial property along Interstate 20 where the old hospital stands, and the plans the city has for developing the 21-acre plot.

He also talked about the current administration’s strong relationship with the school system and that an agreement is near about the half-cent sales tax the school system is currently receiving but only for a limited time.

“We are not going to pull out and leave the school system holding the bag,” Funderburg said. “We do have debt. Patrick has worked close with Dr. (Bobby) Hathcock and Michael Barber (the superintendent and assistant superintendent of Pell City schools).”

Draper said a resolution is close at hand.

“I am confident we will work out a solution that will not only benefit the school system but also the city,” he said.

Both Funderburg and Draper said the city does have debt but the city is in solid financial shape.

Both city officials said it appears the city will have a new library after the former St. Clair County Department of Human Resources facility is renovated.

Draper told District 1 residents that between the city and the Pell City Library Guild, there is enough money to complete the renovations of the former DHR building, which will provide three times the space as the current library.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.

© 2013