Council OKs retiree payments, designates Juneteenth a city holiday

News Staff Writer

Four of five Atmore City Council members gave unanimous approval to three spending resolutions, formally added a new city holiday, and approved use of a city park for an upcoming back-to-school celebration during the council’s Monday, June 13, meeting.
The council, sitting without District 5 rep Chris Harrison, quickly passed each of the resolutions. (Harrison was absent due to a family emergency, Mayor Jim Staff reported.)
The first was to purchase seven police vehicles from the state bid list. Staff reminded council members that although the city put the vehicles out for bid several months ago, no local or area auto dealer submitted a bid.
The APD vehicles will reportedly come from Stiver Ford in Montgomery at a total purchase price of $279,000. One of them will be paid for through a Drug Task Force grant, and each will already be outfitted with lights, sirens and other emergency equipment when they are delivered.
The second resolution gave approval to the purchase of 32 new Tasers from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Axon Enterprises for the police department at a total cost of $106,809.98. Staff said the Tasers currently used by APD are “obsolete,” making the purchase a necessary item.
The third resolution was to pay a total of $24,098 in one-time payments to 39 former city employees who retired prior to March 1, 2022, and received monthly retirement benefits, or to their beneficiaries if the retiree is deceased.
The individual payments were computed giving each retiree (or beneficiary) $2 for each month of his or service to the city.
New holiday
The council also voted to add Juneteenth to the city’s list of paid holidays. Juneteenth evolved from African American Emancipation Day, which was first celebrated on June 19, 1865, the date when the last United States citizens held by other citizens as property were freed at Galveston, Texas. reports that the date is “the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S.”
The date was declared a federal holiday last year, and Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law June 6 making it a state holiday. Since June 19 is on a Sunday this year, the holiday will be observed on Monday, June 20.
Other business
Also during Monday’s meeting, council members:

  • Heard from District 3’s Eunice Johnson that plans are being made for the second annual Fun Day on Patterson Street and for another food drive, tentatively slated to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 9, at Tom Byrne Park.
  • Approved a request from Brandon Tanner to use Heritage Park for a “Back to School Bash” on July 30, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tanner did not attend the meeting, but the mayor reported that the event would be “the one where they give away school supplies.”
  • Were invited by James McNeil to attend Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony (10 a.m. until noon) for the Cornelia Elmore Memorial at the intersection of Carver Avenue and Martin Luther King Avenue.
  • Heard an update from Escambia County Schools Career and Technical Education Director Shawn Butler on the imminent re-opening of A.C. Moore Elementary School, including that Superintendent of Education Michele McClung “still needs 70 students” for the free First-Class Pre-K program that will be housed at the school building, which has been mostly vacant since 2018, in January.
    Butler also made note of the fact that the school’s central office location in Atmore, once virtually deserted, is now “chock full of people” and “every office (in the Pensacola Avenue building) is inhabited.”
    He also revealed that plans are to move the county’s masonry program to Escambia County High School from its current location at the school system’s Career Center in Brewton.