Lowe tells council not to ‘cross that line’

Lowe tells council not to ‘cross that line’

He calls for support of the school system and the football coach

At the work session on Monday, Mayor Eddie Lowe made a heated statement directed to the council regarding the school board, the school system, and the football team at Central. 

“…there’s a lot of things out there about what’s going on with the football team and the school system. Let me say this, very emphatically…we have nothing to do with that school system. We are out of the way. Now I know there’s some things being said out there about the football team and people getting involved. That is not our responsibility. The only employee that the board has is the superintendent. The superintendent runs the school system. He runs it day-to-day. The board should not cross that line. Their only job is to make sure that policies and procedures are followed. We have no jurisdiction over the Phenix City public school system. None whatsoever. We have to make sure we support our school system, our school programs, and we have to support our head football coach.”  

After the mayor’s statement, the council moved onto regular business. 

• The city is settling a lawsuit from David Jason Whitten and his wife Tammy Renee Whitten for $85,512.98, originally filed by Adams, White, and Oliver, LLP. Per meeting minutes from Sept. 18, 2018, the claim alleged that the city was negligent by actions in failing to adequately plan for and/or contain storm water runoff in the areas adjacent to the property located at 2201 Walker Court, Phenix City, Alabama (Saddlebrook Subdivision). The claim advised that the Whittens suffered flooding events at their home March 29, April 15, and May 24, 2018, incurring damages to their residence, yard, landscaping, air conditioner, swimming pool, and property as a whole. During that same meeting, city attorney Jimmy Graham had advised that the claim be denied by the council based on the city not having any reporting of the flooding issue on file. 

In the work session, Graham stated that this is a situation that they (council) faced in the past. 

“When that subdivision was constructed, it wasn’t done right,” Graham said. “We had to pay for it later on because it wasn’t done right.” 

Graham referenced similar situations at St. Andrews and at Tate Furniture Company. He also referenced the Shoney’s parking lot that collapsed years ago, swallowing then mayor Jane Gullatt’s car. 

In the Regular Session, councilmember Steve Bailey said he  

“I really appreciate our city attorneys…doing such a fine job mitigating this down to such a reasonable figure…This is a problem we inherited, not a problem we caused. When we inherit a problem, we have to fix the problem. This was a way for us to bring all of this to an end up there in Saddlebrook. To me, it looks like it came out to everyone’s advantage, including the homeowners, property owners, and the citizens of Phenix City.”

• The following city employees were recognized for their service. In the police department, Krystal Greene, Nicholas Tosti, and John Young have five years; Patrick Doleman, Samuel Oshel, Michael Seavers, and Jose Silva have 10 years, and Donnie Thomas has served 15 years. In Parks and Recreation, Hurry Jones, Jennifer Osorio, Demarcie Whatley, and Justin Worthington all have five years. 

• The city is making an application to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) for funding to replace eligible vehicles in an effort to reduce air pollutants, particularly nitrogen oxides emissions—the funding is from a settlement from a federal lawsuit settlement against Volkswagen. The grant will allow the city to replace a garbage truck, dump truck, service truck, and a trash loader for the cost of one vehicle. The total cost of the vehicles comes to $519,200. There is an 80/20 match—the grant will pay $415,360, while the city will pay $103,840. 

• A ground lease agreement between the city and the Phenix City Housing Authority has been amended, which will give PCHA until July 1, 2021 to pay the agreed $400,000 for the 75-year lease. The lease is for an apartment complex to be built on the old Cobb Hospital site that will give veteran housing priority.  

• Amazing Scapes has been awarded a three-year contract for landscape maintenance in the amount of $62,880 through the Parks and Recreation department. 

• The Utilities Department is purchasing a wall kiosk from the company Citybase for $72,000 with an ongoing monthly maintenance fee of $250 for the first three years. This will allow people to pay their bill at the kiosk any time of day on every day of the week for same-day credit, which means less standing in line or waiting on hold.   

• Barbara Mitchell and Bobby Kilcrease have been reappointed to the Personnel Review Board, and Annie Lindsey has been reappointed to the Planning Commission. 

• A public hearing has been set for Oct. 6 for the fixing of costs incurred for removal of sub-standard structures and the establishment of special assessments for 1305 7th Ave., 401 15th Ave. South, 2407 and 2409 16th Court.  An earlier resolution for the demolition of 1304 17th Court has been rescinded and a new resolution and public notice will be Oct. 6 for the fixing of demolition costs for that property. 

• An application for an Off-Premise Beer License and an Off-Premise Wine License submitted by Deborah Miller for Family Dollar Stores of Alabama, LLC dba Family Dollar Store #20296, located at 1113 E. 280 Bypass in Phenix City, received a second reading. 

• In other news, Wells Fargo on 13th Street is closing and Synovus on Stadium Drive is also closing, both casualties of the pandemic. They will be closed by the end of the year.