Council member has heated discussion over Lanett leadership

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

LANETT — Toward the end of a routine council meeting on Monday, things turned political in Lanett with a member of the council claiming that progress in the city had come to a standstill under Mayor Jamie Heard. Heard fired back that improvements had been made in every district in Lanett since he’d been mayor.

Council Member Tony Malone said that Lanett needs to have a mayor, or a city manager if it had one, to have a state of the city report at the start of a new year. 

“We should be talking about the accomplishments we have made during the past year,” Malone said. “There’s no such report this year because there’s nothing to report on. Instead of advancing, Lanett is moving backward, and it’s all due to a lack of leadership at city hall.”

Email newsletter signup

Malone said that under the administration of previous Mayor Kyle McCoy, the city saw much progress with a streetscape project, improvements at the airport, street paving, lighted signage around the city and so on. 

“Downtown was improved, and the mill site was cleaned up,” he said. “There’s still some cleanup work that needs to be done at the mill site, but it’s much better than it used to be. It’s also good we got a new business, Tractor Supply, to locate on the site in the previous administration.

“We are now at a standstill, and people are having to pay high utility bills. The water and sewer rates are going up, and there’s confusion about what we should be doing at the airport. We need to have a paving list and stick to it.”

Malone said he wanted to thank city employees for the work they are doing. 

“Each department is important,” he said. “What they do makes the city function. Without them, the residents would be receiving no services, and there really wouldn’t be a city. Thank you, employees, for all that you do.”

Malone said he had sought paving for several streets in his district but that no such action had taken place. He said the city had a problem with stray dogs and cats wandering the streets and that there was no plan of action to do anything about it. 

“We must address the upsurge of undocumented migrants coming into the city,” he said. “Lanett has become a safe haven city for them. They are infringing on the city’s broken infrastructure with no consequences for them. We must find a way to end this. If we continue to let it happen, we cannot get on the right track. We will continue to move backward.”

Malone did have some optimism. 

“Despite many things we should have done but didn’t do, Lanett is a wonderful city,” he said. “There is an opportunity for us to get on the right track, but we must start now.”

Heard had the final say. 

“I want to thank the council and the people of Lanett for the opportunity I have had to serve as mayor,” he said. “I have tried to be the mayor for each and every citizen, regardless of race or economic status. I have always tried to do what I thought was best for our city. I have always tried to hire the most qualified candidate for any position that needed to be filled. I have also allowed members of the council to serve on committees to interview candidates for these positions and to make their recommendations to me.”

Heard said that he had enjoyed his time as mayor, but that it had not been a smooth ride. 

“I have had good, bad and ugly days,” he said. “Those days have brought me closer to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have to admit there have been some days where I felt like Daniel being in the Lion’s den and three Hebrew children being put in the fiery furnace.”

Despite this, Heard said it had always been clear to him what needed to be done. 

“My goal was to make improvements in every district, and we’ve done that,” he said. “Anyone who drives all over this town will see that. We’ve gotten some street paving done in West Shawmut and that hadn’t been done in many years. We finished up the streetscape project and have opened what’s now a regional airport. These have been great projects for our city, and more needs to be done to maximize their potential.”

Heard said he wants everyone to know he keeps an open door to hear anyone’s concerns. 

“I want you to let your concerns be known,” he said. “I am in my office at city hall every day. You can come by to talk to me any time.”

Heard made it clear he wants to continue serving as mayor. 

“I am looking forward to continue working to make this the best little town in Alabama,” he said.

He thanked North 18th Street resident Ron Kalman for his work as chairman of the city’s Restoration Committee. 

“Ron is moving away to Argentina, but I want to thank him for what he did for the committee,” he said.

This coming Saturday, March 9, the Restoration Committee will be having a Love Our Lanett Neighborhood Cleanup Day. Anyone wanting to help out can meet at city hall at 10 a.m. Volunteers will be cleaning up litter off city streets.

“At 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, Council Member Ronnie Tucker and I will be meeting residents to District 3 to answer their questions and to hear their concerns,” Heard said.

The meeting will be taking place inside the Jane Farrar Event Center in downtown Lanett.