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McCoy speaks about alleged violations, discusses upcoming projects

WEST POINT — Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy said Thursday that he was looking forward to meeting with anyone from the Alabama attorney general’s office to discuss any actions he has taken since becoming mayor of Lanett.

“There’s some alleged stuff out there right now,” he told members of the West Point Rotary Club., “and I’m not shying away from anything. I will answer any questions they have of me.”

McCoy made it clear he was angry that his integrity was being questioned and felt that it had more to do with an election coming up in three weeks than in getting at the truth.

“It’s hard to keep my mouth shut when my character has been attacked, but I have been told I need to do that, so I will leave it right there.”

On Wednesday in Montgomery, the Alabama Ethics Commission ruled that based on the information they had,  an ethics violation may have been committed by the mayor and turned the matter over to the attorney general’s office for further investigation.

“This is the type of scrutiny one must endure when they offer themselves for public service, especially during political season,” McCoy said in a press release issued on Wednesday. “I certainly do not agree even with an inference of probable cause.  I will continue to hold myself to the highest standard as I continue to serve this city.”

Club member Carolyn Lott stood up to give her backing to the mayor.

“I don’t live in Lanett, but I do have my business there,” she said. “I want everyone here to know I am behind this guy 100 percent. He has done more for the small businesses in Lanett than an accumulation of former mayors. I think the people of Lanett need to get him back in office for the next four years.”

Her remarks were met with some loud applause from members of the club. McCoy looked somewhat surprised but most appreciative of that support.

“I think we have built up a lot of positive momentum over the past four years,” he said. “We’d like to continue the projects we have been working on and see them to conclusion.”

Those recent projects include in Lanett include downtown revitalization, the cleanup of the Lanett Mill site and transitioning it into a new commercial zone and transforming the Lanett Municipal Airport into a first-rate air transport facility.

“We have our downtown fountain running again, and I am really glad for that,” McCoy said. “Someone memorialized a family member and then added soap on top of it. Hunter Cook has done a great job of getting it back running again. I think we now have something that is even better than before. We are continuing with the sky-blue water. It’s in support of Governor Gov. Kay Ivey’s blue ribbonblue-ribbon campaign to honor first responders and hospital workers.”

The fountain is the centerpiece of the downtown’s new look. McCoy likes to call it his T plan. The fountain is where the low bar and the high bar meet. Plans are to have the streetscape look on both North Lanier Avenue (the bottom part of the T) and First Street (the top part). The North Lanier portion is nearly complete. A recently received Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant will finish the North Lanier phase this fall. The wide sidewalks, gutters, planters, decorative lighting and brick crosswalks will extend from Tanyard Creek to Cherry Drive. Work will begin this fall on the first portion of First Street’s streetscape look. The areas to be re-worked extend from Gwen’s Tax Service to North 6th Avenue on the north side of the street and the area between South 3rd and South 4th streets (near the First Christian Church) on the south side.

Most of the First Street work can be done in 2021 provided the city can secure a $512,000 Transportation Alternatives Program, or TAP grant. McCoy likes the city’s chances of getting it.

“There were no TAP grants this year,” he said, “but for next year they have increased the maximum amount you can receive from $400,000 to $800,000.”

That grant would enable First Street to have the streetscape look from Highway 29 to Eighth Avenue near W.O. Lance Elementary School.

McCoy is well pleased with North Lanier’s present look.

“A couple of years ago we planted some trees we thought would one day give us a canopy look across the street,” he said. “I am amazed with how fast they are growing. I think they are going to give us the canopy look we were hoping for. I think people will really like it.”

The mayor said that getting Tractor Supply to come to Lanett was a major success that came together really fast.

“We listened to complaints about the mill site for 10  years,” he said. “When we got ownership of the land, it took us six months to clean it up and have a new Tractor Supply store sitting there.”

McCoy said that a master plan has been designed for the remainder of the mill site. It will retain the historic structures such as the water tower and the nickel bus station near Highway 29.

Current plans have a roundabout looping around the water tower and leading in several directions to a shopping plaza.

One member of the club asked the mayor about the piles of broken concrete that now line the backside of the site. McCoy said that the concrete can be crushed and recycled as new building material.

He said that several companies had expressed interest in doing that.

“Mother Nature has helped us in one way,” he said. “Much of the wood that was there has rotted away.”

McCoy said he was extremely pleased with the way the airport project was shaping up. The 5,400-square-foot terminal is on track to be completed by mid- December. It’s going to be a beautiful building and something that be eye-catching to people in planes landing on the 5,400-foot runway.

“The terminal is coming together really fast,” McCoy said. “A recent lack of rainy days has helped. All the brick work is done, the windows are in and the roof is on. It’s what you call dried in. River City Contracting is doing a nice job with the building.”

There’s one thing really special about the terminal: it will be the only one in Alabama that has an economic development office. Half of the new building will be for air travel and half of it for the Chambers County Development Authority. Being able to meet industrial and retail prospects at the airport after they have landed in a corporate jet will be a most impressive thing to do.

Noticing local attorney Larry Nix in the crowd gathered inside the American Smoke House (ASH), McCoy asked if Lanett had come a long way since 1998, when he was the city attorney. “Sho nuff have,” Nix joked back.

McCoy thanked Nix for his work in laying the foundation for a coming airport project.

In recent years, the city has acquired an estimated $15 million in grant money to improve the airport. That’s the sort of thing that can happen when you have some powerful people in Washington representing you. Senator Richard Shelby has been a godsend in getting money back to the state, not just for airport projects, but also for colleges and many other projects.