LaFayette City Council works to become Main Street community

Published 10:00 am Saturday, December 25, 2021

During the LaFayette City Council meeting on Monday, Ansley Emfinger, project manager of the Chambers County Development Authority, talked to the county about getting LaFayette designated as a Main Street community.

“We have started on the application, and we have actually already had a committee meeting once,” she said. “And we have another committee meeting coming up in January on Thursday, Jan. 13 at 5:30 CST at LaFayette First Baptist Church in the fellowship hall. So, we encourage anyone who wants to be a part of it and who wants to volunteer their time to come and join us for that meeting.”

Emfinger introduced Jimmy Stewart, who is leading the project.

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“Main Street LaFayette is something that we worked on last year,” he said. “We ran into a time crunch in getting the application submitted. But I do feel like this year, we will meet our deadlines or goals and submit a very good application.”

Stewart said he was asked to lead the initiative. He said he has over 25 years of experience in the water and wastewater industry dealing with rehabilitation, assessment, funding and execution. He has served on two boards of directors. He said he currently serves on one and chairs the largest organization in the water and wastewater industry in the country.

He said he looked forward to working with everyone in the city on the project.

“Our goal is to involve not only the citizens; we want to minimize the impact and involvement from the city as much as we can, so Mr. Louis [Davidson] isn’t stressed out,” he said. “We want to involve LaFayette High School, we want to involve Chambers Academy and any other citizens that have an interest in participating.”

Stewart said the project would involve a lot of volunteer work.

Emfinger explained that the resolution before the council was a part of the application process. She said the application deadline is in May but that the committee would like to submit the application as soon as possible.

Stewart said that on Jan. 6 in Birmingham, there will be a workshop for Main Street LaFayette, which he believed three committee members would be attending. He said that anyone could sign up to go and that anyone interested in attending should reach out to Emfinger or Chris Busby, deputy director of the Chambers County Development Authority.

Emfinger’s number is (334) 642-1460, and Busby’s number is (334) 642-1415. According to Busby, if the application is approved, an organization called Main Street Alabama will use its four-point approach program to revitalize and grow LaFayette’s downtown area.

The council, aside from Hunter, voted to approve the Main Street resolution.

In other business at the meeting, City Clerk Louis Davidson brought up a resolution pertaining to the city’s drug testing program, which the council approved. Davidson said the city’s current third-party drug testing administrator stopped providing services to the city, so LaFayette had to send out requests for proposals from other administrators. He said the city had only received one proposal, which is from East Alabama Occupational Medicine.

“Just a couple of quick highlights — their proposal is slightly lower on our normal drug testing,” he said. “There was an increase of $15 on our [breath] alcohol testing. Currently, it’s $35, and that would be $50. They also have an administration fee that’s based on the number DOT employees that we have. So currently, with that estimate, there’s an annual administration fee of $500 bucks.”

Davidson said that under the city’s current policy, there is a $95 orientation fee.

“So anytime we hire someone, and they come out on-site, it’s $95 plus testing,” he said. “Post-accident-wise, if they have to come out in the middle of the night, it’s a $95 cost. When they do randoms to come on-site, that’s a $95 cost.”

Davidson said the city does randoms quarterly.

“One other thing that would change is that they don’t do orientation, so we would actually move orientation in-house through my office with the HR clerk, which would just go over our substance abuse policy and drug testing policy, randoms, reasonable suspicion,” he said. “We’d just handle all that type of stuff in-house now.”