Mayor issues mentoring proclamation

Presenting the Big Brothers Big Sisters proclamation, from left, LaTyron McCall, Aimee Risser, Mayor Jim Staff

The Atmore City Council eased into 2017 Monday, January 9, with a meeting that centered on the issuance of a proclamation honoring mentoring programs, a resolution related to fair housing and an amendment to a city ordinance.

The council also formally revoked the license of a business where a shooting occurred in November and approved the transfer of an alcoholic beverage license.

The council voted unanimously to bring an end to the city’s relationship with Special Occasions, which was licensed as a banquet hall, because of evidence that alcoholic beverages were served and consumed on the premises prior to the shooting. Mayor Jim Staff had already invoked his mayoral powers and issued a revocation order, and license holder Bridgett Kemp did not appear before the panel to argue against the action.

Council members also unanimously approved transfer of Discount Beer & Tobacco’s Alabama Beverage Control license from Nasser Almatari to Bana Ali Saeed Abobaker, who recently purchased the 1339 South Main Street business.

A Fair Housing resolution was issued to reinforce of the city’s “recognition of the significance of fair housing to our way of life and (to) encourage the citizens of our municipality to observe and support both the letter and spirit of the Fair Housing Law as an expression of the individual rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and Constitution of the State of Alabama.”

The Beverage Wholesaler Ordinance amendment, which the mayor said would “bring the city in line with the rest of the country,” passed by a 4-0 vote. Mayor Pro Tem Webb Nall, an employee of the local Pepsi distributor, abstained.

The proclamation in support of mentoring programs generated the most excitement from Staff, who praised the effort of Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Alabama to make a difference in the lives of local at-risk youngsters.

“Now we have the best part of this thing, the national Big Brothers Big Sisters proclamation,” the mayor said before addressing two representatives of the organization.

“How many people have y’all got working now, as far as volunteers?” he asked.

“We have about 15 ‘Bigs’ right now and we’re working on a few more,” answered LaTyron McCall of Americorp Vista, to which Staff commented that “that ought to be some kind of record for a city of this size.”

Aimee Risser, chief executive officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Alabama, said the local recruiting effort had produced a wide range of volunteers.
“We have police officers, firemen, Atmore Community Hospital Bigs, United Bank Bigs, and others,” she said.

The mayor then read the proclamation, which recognizes January as National Mentoring Month. The issuance included that “research has shown that when matched through quality mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Alabama, mentors can play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible decisions, stay focused and engaged in school and reduce or avoid risky behavior like skipping school, drug use and other negative activities.”

The proclamation also cited a recent national report, “The Mentoring Effect,” which revealed that “young people who were at-risk for not completing high school, but who had a mentor, were 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.”

The designation of the special month, the document reads, gives local citizens “the opportunity to recognize quality mentoring programs that produce these positive benefits, and to focus on year-round strategies to grow their capacity to ensure that every young person (in the city) who needs a mentor is connected to a caring adult.”

Prior to adjournment, the council gave formal approval to the parade set for Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observance.