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Council holds informal work session

News Staff Writer

Monday, August 13, was one of the rare times such a session was held, but Mayor Jim Staff and members of the Atmore City Council agreed that a monthly public workshop could be a tool to help them provide better oversight of city affairs and to bring the concerns of their respective constituents before the full council.
Each of the city’s elected representatives agreed after Monday’s half-hour pre-meeting meeting that such a get-together should be continued.
“I think this meeting was a good thing,” Staff said. “If y’all want to, we can make this a regular thing.”
After only brief discussion, council members agreed to conduct such a session prior to each month’s first council meeting. The mayor and council meet regularly at 4 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.
City Clerk Becca Smith said such informal meetings, while rare, are not unheard of.
“They have done it before,” Smith said, “(but) it was the first in a while.”
Monday’s gathering — attended by the mayor, the full council, Smith and Administrative Assistant Celia Lambert — allowed council members to discuss possible items for future consideration and to air any needs or concerns that have recently arisen or that have not yet been resolved.
No votes were taken on any issue.
Topics ranged from whether or not joining South Alabama Regional Planning Commission’s Purchasing Association would actually produce any savings to the city, to the possible purchase of new Christmas decorations to augment those displayed downtown each year.
Council members talked about the traffic count in the business district that has grown up near Interstate 65, about the success of the new splash pad and about the FAA grant they would later approve during their regular meeting.
When Staff asked if any council member had particular concerns he or she wanted to discuss, the talk centered on the need for street repairs or street resurfacing in various parts of the city.
Staff announced that Second Avenue and Roller Coaster Road (Forest Hill Drive in Brookwood) were at the top of the list of projects for which paving money would be next allocated.
“If we let them go much farther, our infrastructure is going to crumble,” said the mayor, who also pointed out that Short Street would be resurfaced as the final part of a recent sewer rehabilitation project that required widespread digging along that street.
Council members also stressed the need for road rehab on Perch, Beck, Peachtree and Church streets.
Most of the session’s discussions were initiated by District 3’s Chris Walker and District 4’s Susan Smith, but each council member contributed and each agreed that the meeting was a good one.
Walker, Webb Nall (District 1), Chris Harrison (D5) and Jerome Webster (D2) each liked the idea of such a get-together each month, while Smith said, in jest, “We could meet every day if y’all wanted to.”