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Lanett Council gives employees 3 percent raises

LANETT — On Monday, City of Lanett employees got a raise, the council approved a resolution seeking grant funds to continue the streetscape project and also backed a resolution declaring Nov. 22-28 “Farm-City Week” in the city.

Effective during the first pay period of the calendar year 2020, city employees will receive a 3 percent cost of living adjustment. Currently, the city has 135 employees in six departments — police, fire & EMS, city hall, recreation, lights and gas and streets, water, sewer, cemetery, buildings and grounds.

The city is seeking a grant for just less than $190,000 through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). If approved, the city would have to make a 20 percent match.

Grant writer Louise Campbell was present at the meeting and said the ARC grant was one of two the city was seeking to close out the streetscape on North Lanier Avenue.

“The first one is under review right now, and we should know in early November whether or not it has been approved,” she said. “The ARC application is due Nov. 1. We are hoping both of them will be approved.”

The first grant would close out the streetscape project on North Lanier Avenue. The second one would continue it along First Street toward the W.O. Lance Elementary playground.

“We will keep plugging away on this,” Campbell said. “We have other alternatives if these grants aren’t approved.”

Councilman Tony Malone said city residents have been asking him if the city would be doing more street paving.

“It won’t happen overnight,” he said. “We appreciate your patience on this. It’s not like this council hasn’t been getting anything done. For a long time, we were criticized about the Lanett Mill site when there was little we could do about it, given that the site wasn’t in the city at the time and we had no control over what was going on there. The city does own the site now, and people can see that we are moving quickly on it.”

Malone added city officials had to be “quick on the draw” to have success in getting new business, like Tractor Supply.

“When I hear comments like ‘Why would they come here?’ I say why not? It’s about time we got a major new business in the city, and I’m glad they are coming here,” he said. “I wish them success. They are going to be selling more than tractor supplies.”

Councilman Charles Looser said he could vouch for that.

“I’ve gone to their store in LaGrange,” he said. “They do sell more than tractors. I got me a little red wagon when I was at the LaGrange store.”

Mayor Kyle McCoy said he’d like to dispel a rumor that had been going around that the mill site was going to be developed into a solar farm, like the big one in LaFayette.

“No, we are not going to have solar panels running from Sandy’s to Farmer’s Supply,” he said. “It’s a solar research site. The four rows that are there now is all there will be. It will be surrounded by four pillars made from Lanett Mill brick and connected by a wrought iron gate. It will look really nice.”

McCoy added he’d met with a planning engineer to come up with a master plan with the mill site.

“We are looking at different ways to develop it,” he said. “We could have both green space and retail. There are a lot of options. What we are looking at is what will benefit the city the most, what will generate the most revenue.

“This city is moving forward. It’s important to invest in your downtown area. If your downtown looks run down, people will think your whole town is too.”

McCoy said he had noticed one big change since the Tractor Supply announcement.

“People are calling us now,” he said. “It used to be that we were the ones calling to gauge their interest in coming to Lanett. We are open for business and are not having to beg to talk to people anymore.”

Tavaris Taylor, Point University’s director of alumni relations, came to the meeting to invite everyone to a homecoming celebration and block party Point will be hosting from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT on Friday, Nov. 8.

West 5th Avenue in West Point, which runs in front of Batson-Cook Hardware, will be closed off during those hours.

“It should be a fun afternoon,” he said. “We will have food trucks, live entertainment and inflatables for the kids. Everyone’s invited to come out and enjoy the day with us.”

Taylor said that Point University officials were faced with a decision about its future seven years ago.

“I think we made a good one in coming to West Point,” he said. “We have seen some very steady growth. We now have over 2,200 students altogether. We have 19 different men’s and women’s sports in West Point. We have students from 19 different countries.”

Taylor said the university is working hard to do things the right way.

“We want a big turnout at our block party on Friday, Nov. 8,” he said. “We think it’s important to bless where you are growing. Our block party will be open to the entire community. We want you to come and hear our band and our singers.”

Taylor presented Mayor McCoy with a homecoming t-shirt with the message “Together We Fly.”

“That’s our theme,” he said. “Point University cannot do what we do without West Point, Lanett and Valley all being part of it. It’s an honor for me to be here tonight and to invite all of you to our block party.”

Sonja Adams, Betty Brooks Tyner and Narfunda Ross of Team WHIP (Working to Help those In Pink) talked to the council about some events they have planned in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

On Saturday, Oct. 26, it will have its fifth annual Breast Cancer Walk. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. at the John D. Hoggs Pavilion, across from Circle K on East 10th Street in West Point.

It’s free to participate and a great way to express support to cancer survivors, those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and their families.

The walk will start in West Point and end up in Lanett. It will be about two and a half miles long, and there will also be a shorter kids’ walk.

“We want everyone to come out and walk with us,” Ross said. “Exercise is great for your health, and we are all about promoting good health.”

Chambers County Farm-City Committee Chairman T.J. Wood attended the meeting to receive a Farm-City Week proclamation on behalf of the committee.

He invited everyone to this year’s Farm-City Tour, which will take place on Thursday, Nov. 14.

Stops will be taking place at Norbord, where participants can see OSB being made, West Point Dam, where they can go inside the powerhouse, and the Gilbert Christmas Tree Farm in Fredonia, where they can see this year’s crop of live Christmas trees.