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LaFayette approves ARWA partnership

At its meeting on Monday, the LaFayette City Council approved allowing the Community Action Head Start Program to use LaFayette Senior Center’s parking lot as an emergency pick-up spot.

The Head Start Program provides low-income children with educational advancement opportunities.

“We’ve been trying to find a spot for evacuation for our kids to do a drill so if something happens at the LaFayette Center, we have a spot to go to,” Head Start Program representative Dillie Mitchell said. “If we have a gas leak or a bomb threat, we would have a place to take our children to. We wanted to see if you could approve that so the parents could have room to pick the students up and be distant [enough] from the center.”

Both Fire Chief James Doody and Police Chief George Rampey said the parking lot would be a good place for the children to be picked up in case of an emergency.

“I think that will be a good location,” Rampey said. “We tried to help to find locations. She had asked about it, and I had told her this was the proper way to do it, to come before you all. We always have to have a place. They just wanted somewhere they could say they could use for the paperwork.”

The council also approved an apprenticeship for water/wastewater operator trainees with Alabama Rural Water Association (ARWA). Two years ago, the ARWA partnered with National Water and the Alabama Apprenticeship Office to create a program that allows new workers and recently hired workers to get the necessary training and certification needed to become an operator.

“With this apprenticeship program, you sign up as an employer. You don’t ever have to use anything with it if you don’t want to, but if you want to use it, anyone that was hired on or will be hired on can go through the apprenticeship program, do the training, get a Department of Labor certificate as well as be trained to be ready to take the test,” ARWA representative Katie Hill said. “All the regulations are being changed. It’s getting stricter and stricter on things they’re going to do.”

The program takes two years and workers work a minimum of 144 hours a year during the time they are in the program.

“The benefit to the city will be with this program and through some funding that we will have, you will get a minimum of 50 percent [of the employee’s] salary renversement for that employee,” Hill said. 

As of right now, the apprenticeship program is still on the ground floor. Hill is currently the instructor for the program, but each of the seven sites will have its own instructor once it is up and running.

Street, Sanitation and Cemetery Superintendent George Green informed the council about the Handy Cemetery Expansion project.

In the older section of the cemetery, Green said the city has remapped the sections of the cemetery so it would be easier to navigate.

Every cemetery in LaFayette now has the maps on waterproof paper. The maps are also on a PDF. Once all work is done inside the cemeteries, there will be new signs to inform the public what section they are in.

“We’ve been trying to do some much-needed improvements on our mapping system and grave verification,” Green said. “This has been a six or seven year process, but we’re just about there.”

Three and a half years ago, the city purchased three and a half more acres of land to expand Handy Cemetery.

“Right now we’re doing the grating and moving the fence. We’re going to reinstall the fence on the backside of the property,” Green said. “This time, we’re going to try and do some mapping and planning before the cemetery is even open.”

Green said the expansion will add 2,100 graves to the cemetery.