Living Democracy

Elba City Council takes care of business

Elba City Council meetingThe Elba City Council holds meetings on the second and fourth Monday of each month at the City Hall beginning at 5:30 p.m. This past Monday, I decided to attend their meeting.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I had never been to a City Council meeting before. Although I had looked into it in my hometown, I always found myself to be too busy to attend. Maybe it wasn't in my comfort zone because I did not know anyone else who attended.

When I walked into the room where the meeting was to be held, it was much more formal than I thought it would be. Members of the City Council sat at the front of the room with their nameplates displayed in front of them. These members were: Rolanda Jones, District 1; Tommy Skinner, District 2; Jane Brunson, District 3; Harold Spicer, District 4; and Ronnie Hammond, District 5. Mayor Mickey Murdock was seated in the middle.

When the meeting began not even a third of the chairs in the room were filled. This was somewhat shocking for me, but I suppose it shouldn't have been. As I mentioned, neither I nor anyone I was familiar with attended City Council meetings, but I always assumed that surely some members of the community were attending these meetings.

On the contrary, it seemed that only those obligated to attend were there. People in the audience included some local business owners on the agenda for city business and a local journalist. This caused me to wonder why is it that no one, for their own personal agenda, attends these meetings?

The meeting began with a roll call of the City Council members and the mayor. They then prayed together, at first being thankful for all they had, then asking for knowledge to make decisions that will best benefit the town. They also prayed for those families suffering from the recent tragedy in Orlando.

After this, Freddy Hanchey, chief of police, gave a crime report. He reported an increase in traffic cases, adding that would probably continue through the summer. He added the good news that accidents are down for the period. 

Next the City Clerk gave a report. The Council then took action on several agenda items, including paying bills for automotive repairs, city insurance, windshields for police cars, tetanus shots for those who could not afford it after the most recent flood, a school expense for a firefighter, expenses for a mayor’s conference, and for the inspection of sewer lines.

The city officials also heard that the Tiger Town park facade had been painted because it had been peeling.

The Elba City Council next approved bids on two road improvements projects. The first one was correcting an erosion problem on Highland Drive. The project will be funded from the local gas tax fund, reserved for street construction and repair.

The second bid accepted was for flood repairs on Simmons Street. The cost of the repair is covered by FEMA funds. The winning bidder on the project was Triple J Construction. This is the firm presently doing sidewalk upgrades in Elba.

By the end of the City Council meeting, the atmosphere became much more casual. People stood and began to casually converse with one another after the meeting adjourned.

I talked with the mayor and invited him to listen to me speak at a Rotary meeting the next day, which he agreed to do. It was surprising to me that a man with so many responsibilities would take time out of his busy schedule to oblige my request.

City of ElbaAfter attending the City Council meeting, I came up with my own theory about why many residents do not attend the meetings. It may be they do not feel like is necessary because they trust their city leaders and the decisions they make. The residents of Elba trust that they are in good hands, and I have to agree that they are.

By Randy Whitten
Last Updated: June 22, 2016