Lanett mayor gives state of the city address

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, March 20, 2024

LANETT — Several weeks ago, Council Member Tony Malone said Lanett residents needed to hear a state of the city report from the mayor. On Monday, Mayor Jamie Heard made good on that request, receiving a standing ovation from a large crowd gathered inside the council chamber.

Heard said that it was an honor and a privilege to serve as the mayor of Lanett. He said he’s in his office at city hall every day and that he’s always willing to talk to anyone, any time about what’s going on in the city.

“I would be remiss if I did not say thank you to Kyle McCoy for the great work he did while serving as the city’s mayor,” Heard said.

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“His projects had Lanett moving to greater heights. Some of you may not know it but, Mr. Malone was mayor pro tem, for nine months before Mayor McCoy decided to step down.

He waited to step down on the first day it was my time to serve as mayor pro team. Thank you, Mr. McCoy, for this great opportunity to serve the people of Lanett.”

Heard said he wanted residents to understand that it was not his fault that the paperwork required to keep the city’s police jurisdiction had not been turned in on time “I became mayor on October 4, 2021,” he said. “It’s my understanding the paperwork had been mailed in before I took office. I have not received any information on this, and I have asked city employees if they had received information and knew anything about this. All I can say is that Lanett was one of 128 Alabama cities out of 174 that are in this same boat.”

The mayor said the purpose of his State of the City address was to inform residents, stakeholders and local government officials about the current status, accomplishments, challenges and future plans of the city.

“When I first became mayor, Lanett faced many challenges, among them poor garbage collection service, low morale on the part of some city employees, low wages in some departments and excessive overtime in others, and a lack of trust in some departments.”

Heard said that AmWaste, the city’s garbage collection provider at the time, was missing routes, skipping some customers and not staying on a regular schedule.

“I was receiving calls every day from citizens who were telling me their garbage had not been picked up that day,” Heard said. “I had to get some of our city trucks to go out and collect garbage and in some cases took my own truck out there to pick it up.”

Heard said he met with AmWaste officials on several occasions but that little improvement was seen in the way of overall service. The council gave him permission to seek out other providers. The council eventually awarded a contract to the current provider C&C Sanitation of LaGrange.

“I am pleased to say they are doing an excellent job,” he said.

Heard said that city employees had been given raises during his term in office. “We revised our pay
scale,” he said. “It has been helpful in retaining and hiring qualified people to work for the city. All employees received a Coat of Living Adjustment (COLA) in 2023. We also updated our personnel policy handbook, which had not been updated since 2013. After this update, attorney Robbie Hyde met with our employees to explain, discuss and answer any legal question they may have had. Each employee was given a copy of the handbook. New employees receive a copy when they are hired.”

A c c o m p l i s h m e n t s during Heard’s term in office include a $4.3 million grant to replace old natural gas lines and to make needed improvements in the city’s gas department, an investment of $125,000 to upgrade the city’s electrical substation, an expenditure of some $30,000 to install brighter LED lights along Highway 29, another $28,000 to improve lighting on city streets and $101,000 to purchase a new mini excavator.

The city resumed its water department. Clearwater is still running the wastewater plant, but the city is now ironing a water department under the direction of Richard Chapman. Numerous improvements have been made in the city’s water and sewage in recent years. A total of 11 paving projects have been carried out since Heard has been in office. These include South 6th Street, South 7th Street, South 12th Avenue, 15th Avenue SW, 18th Avenue SW, 23rd Street SW, 31st Street SW, North 8th Court, North 9th Street, North 10th Street and paving in the new section of the Pine Hill Cemetery.

Storm drains have been added along First Street, on South 15th Street near Lanett High and on Mag- nolia Road. Some major improvements have taken place at the James A. Hardy Gym and at the Jane Farrar Event Center, a new heating and cooling system installed at the Lanett Senior Center and two new senior vans.

Work has taken place inside city hall. Flooring has been replaced in several offices and in the lobby. Several offices have been repainted, new furniture has been purchased, a big screen TV has been pur- chased for the lobby and two for the council chamber.

“We want to thank Michael Morrison from East Alabama Regional Planning for a $10,000 grant that allowed us to make some repairs on some homes where elderly people were living,” Heard said. “I love spending time with seniors at our senior center and at Diversicare.”

The mayor has implemented a summer work program for high school and college students. He also started a beautification committee and transitioned it into a restoration committee which will have a cleanup day on April 6. Heard encourages city employees to “adopt” a senior during the Christmas season to give them gifts over the holidays “We also help seniors to get assistance with their cost of housing and utilities,” he said.

“It has been said that one picture is worth a thousand words,” the mayor said. “I have a short video presentation to show that Lanett has more going for it today than it did four years ago.” The video highlighted the massive work done at Lanett Airport and an open house that took place there last year. Also highlighted was the streetscape project that was completed in 2023. This brought major improvements along North

Lanier Avenue and First Street. The video reported that over the past four years the city has received over $350,000 in grants that allowed for the purchase of new vehicles for all city departments. The $4.3 million grant going to the gas department will allow for improvements all over the city.

“In closing, I want to say thank you to the citizens of Lanett for all you do to make this a great place to live,” Heard said. “I hope you continue to hold me and the members of the council accountable. May God bless you and may God bless the City of Lanett. Thank you.”

Malone was the first to shake the mayor’s hand and congratulate him on having made a report citizens should appreciate.