McCoy speaks at Lions Club meeting

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 4, 2020

Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy was the guest speaker at Wednesday’s noon hour meeting of the West Point Lions Club. He reviewed what’s been going on in Lanett recently, talked about future plans, and said that’s it’s just good to be back to speaking to a civic club again.

“Thanks for your invitation,” he said. “It’s great to be amongst people again and trying to get back to normal.”

McCoy said he was glad the host church, West Point Presbyterian, was back to having services again.

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“Our church (Lanett Methodist) will be restarting in July,” he said.

The Lanett City Hall complex was closed to the public for several weeks after six employees tested positive for the coronavirus. All have recovered and are back at work now.

“They tested negative and were cleared by the CDC to come back,” McCoy said. “Thankfully, no one in our police or fire departments had it. No one missed work.”

The mayor said the city is fortunate to have some very good first responders, and it’s the goal of him and the council to keep them.

“We have a new pay scale that makes us competitive with surrounding cities (Opelika-Auburn, LaGrange, etc).) According to the newly-adopted scale, trainees start out at $17 an hour. Following the training period, they move up to $18 an hour. With experience, they can make up to $19 an hour.

“I am proud of our council for doing this,” McCoy said. “Our goal is to maintain quality people.”

The council took action this week for all employees to be on tier one1. Those who had been hired since 2013 had been on tier one2., which required a longer period to earn retirement benefits. Putting them at tier one1 makes them eligible to retire after 25 years rather than 30.

“The state allows us to do this, ,” he said, “and it’s good for our employees,” McCoy said. “I think it will help us attract trained, qualified people who will come here to work. On this plan, if you are hired at age 20 you can start drawing retirement at 45. That’s pretty good.”

McCoy said., somewhat jokingly, that the most important guy who works for the city must be the one who drives the limb truck.

“We get more calls on this than almost anything else we do,” he said. “People want to know when their curbside debris is going to be picked up.”

The city took a big step this week in making these people happy. They have purchased a new limb truck for $140,000.

“Our old one broke down a lot,” the mayor said. “One year, we spent $65,000 in repairs.”

When the truck’s down it takes longer for yard waste to be picked up.

McCoy said he was excited about what’s going on with the airport expansion.

“This is a big deal not just for Lanett but for the entire area.” he said.

The old airport had a runway of approximately 3,300 feet. An entirely new one has been built that runs some 4,400 feet. The next phase will lengthen it to 5,400 feet, making it one of the largest in east Alabama. A taxiway is being built alongside the new runway and will extend from one end to the other. Bids will go out in August on the 1,000-foot expansion.

Rapid progress is being made on a new 5,400-square-foot terminal. The footings have been poured, a concrete pad is in and the steel girders are going up.

“River City Construction is the contractor, and they are on a 245-day schedule,” McCoy said. “They could be completed by December.”

The terminal will have a large lobby,. a pilot’s lounge, a flight planning room and offices for the city and the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA). A novel feature will be that those who drive there will park in the back and enter from that side of the building. The front door will be for passengers and the pilots who land planes and the passengers.

“The new airport will be a very good marketing and industrial recruiting tool for our entire area,” McCoy said. “Business people travel by private plane. When they were here, WestPoint Pepperell flew out of the airport in LaGrange. We need to put ourselves in a place where people can come here by plane. We want that to be a new normal.”

McCoy said there is already more interest in the airport.

“:We are already getting lots of interest on our hangars,” he said. “The Auburn airport is full, and they have a Delta Flight School there. There’s a chance for us to get industrial customers to come here. This airport is for the whole area. We need to be thinking collectively now. People who visit here don’t know where West Point, Lanett and Valley start and end. They see us as one community. I have very good relationships with Mayor Steve Tramell in West Point and Leonard Riley in Valley. Our goal is to improve the entire local area.”

One year ago this month, the City of Lanett acquired the Lanett Mill site. Much has happened on that 23-acre site since then. First, city workers calened did great work in cleaning off the front portion of the property. It was impressive enough to draw the interest of Tractor Supply officials, who bought a site on the south end of the property, built a store there and opened it to the public in December. On the north end of the site, the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA) and the city collaborated on building a solar research site. The electricity produced there goes onto the grid, first passing through Lanett. The test site saves the city five percent on its overall electric bill each month.

Jade Engineering of Fairhope, Alabama is now working on a master plan for the rest of the property.

“I think it’s going to be something we’ll be proud of,” McCoy said. “We’re not looking at a row of stores. We’d like to have a plaza atmosphere.”

The central feature will be the mill’s water tank, which will be repainted and encircled by a roundabout. The main entrance to the plaza development will be at the water tank. “We will be methodical in our decision making,” McCoy said. “We don’t want pop-up stores that will be closing.”

The historic CV Railway nickel bus station that faces Highway 29 will also be preserved. The battery-powered nickel buses carried passengers along the CV line from one end of the Valley to the other. They were called nickel buses because it cost five cents to ride them. Before Highway 29 was four-laned in the late 1940s, the CV ran in front of Lanett Mill.