PHOTO: Rainsville Councilman Rickey Byrum challenges Southern Torch reporting regarding the road paving project at the crossing. (Marla Jones | Reporter)
By Marla Jones, Reporter
RAINSVILLE, Ala. — (Scroll Down for Video) The Rainsville City Council held their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, April 16, 2018.
During the work session, Councilmember Rickey Byrum challenged the Southern Torch on our reporting of the 35/75 Road Project. Byrum stated that we mischaracterized how the project was funded. “All funding came from federal and state funds. This was not a city project,” Byrum said.
In our Volume 3, Issue 42 (dated October 20, 2017), Southern Torch reported:
Project Manager and Rainsville City Councilmember Bejan Taheri added that many towns throughout Alabama are upgrading for safety purposes. “This will be a big improvement for Rainsville,” said Taheri. “This endeavor is a federal project with eighty percent of the cost coming from federal funds and twenty percent coming from state money.”
Interestingly, Byrum chose to criticize our report concerning the road project months after the project was hurriedly completed in the colder weather of early December of 2017. Councilmember Taheri has previously stated that the timing of the paving was due to the necessity of completing the project prior to the regularly scheduled Rainsville Christmas parade.
Southern Torch has previously reported that the Rainsville road project was awarded to Wiregrass Construction for a total of $1,127,370.31 according to the Alabama Department of Transportation. Since completion, we have reported on the deterioration of road. Taheri previously informed Southern Torch that the road work would have to be redone.
Councilmember Marshall Stiefel presented to the council a report from Revenue Commissioner Tyler Wilks concerning the number of people who had used the County Annex office adjacent to the City Hall. The report stated that 24,000 people were served from June 1, 2017 to April 1, 2018.
City Attorney Nikki Scott updated the Council on the condemnation of Tracts 3 and 4 (Berry property) for the Chavies Bridge project. She stated that on April 12, the judge had issued an order, paying Billy Berry, $500, and Roger Dale Berry, $1650, for their property. The property owners have thirty days to appeal. Scott recommended that the Council empower the mayor to sign for any other action regarding this matter.
In the regular meeting, there were two motions brought forth. One that the City would not appeal the ruling of court. The vote was 3-1 with Stiefel voting against. The second motion was to empower the mayor to sign for any legal matters regarding this ruling. The vote passed 3-1 (Councilmember Taheri was absent). The lone no vote was Councilmember Marshall Stiefel.
“I disagree with the way it was handled,” continued Stiefel. “I do not agree how people were sent with no official affiliation with the City to try to strongarm the property owners to give up their property. This is not how business should be conducted. I have known the Berry’s for years. I feel that if a couple of us could’ve met, we could have settled this over a cup of coffee in around fifteen minutes. Now we will spend countless dollars on legal fees when all of this could have been avoided. This is just another example of what happens when you try to run things like the ‘good ole boys’ have done for years,” concluded Stiefel.
Southern Torch reached out to landowner Billy Berry for his opinion. Berry stated that he would appeal and his attorney was in the process of preparing the paperwork.
The Council also took action on the following:
- Approved Panic Hardware the Tom Bevill Enrichment Center doors for $575
- Granted RTI (Rainsville Technology Institute) a tax abatement until December 2019
- Accepted the resignation of police officer Eric Tidmore
- Re-routed sewer line behind Pruett’s Jewelry for cost of $3,500
- Replaced culverts on Parker and George Wallace avenues for cost of $2,855
- Hired Kevin Keller to build a pavilion at the Field of Dreams for cost of $9,353
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be held on May 7, 2018 with the workshop beginning at 4:15pm, followed by the council meeting at 5pm.
Watch the Video (Starts at the discussion):