Mayor called to active duty

As the United States moves closer and closer to conflict with Iraq, local residents who have committed themselves to military duty are feeling the heat.

In fact, Columbiana’s city officials are being hit hard by that heat.

Recent military activation could mean the city council will have to find a temporary replacement for Mayor Allan Lowe.

Lowe resigned his position as a member and secretary of the Columbiana Water Board in a letter dated Dec. 3. He cited as reasons both his military obligation and the activation of his Alabama Army National Guard unit for deployment overseas.

Councilmember Tim Billingsley is a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, but

said that while he could be called to active duty at any time, his mission is homeland security and usually he is gone and back before anyone knows it.

He said that allows him to continue to serve the city and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Billingsley said the focus should be support for Mayor Lowe and his &uot;new journey.&uot;

At a recent meeting of council, Mayor Pro Tem Tom Seale, acting in Lowe’s place,

read the mayor’s letter of resignation from the water board. And in the absence of Lowe and Councilmember Sherry Rush, who was out of town, the council appointed Councilmember Ouida Mayfield to fill Lowe’s water board position.

Lowe wrote to water board chairman Johnny Farr Jr. with a copy to Seale, &uot;Due to my military obligation and the activity of my unit for deployment overseas, I must resign my position as member and secretary of the Columbiana Water Board. My resignation will become effective at 12:01 a.m., Dec. 4, 2002.

&uot;I appreciate the short time I have had to know you and Mr. (Ty) Sockwell better, and I look forward to a continued acquaintance when I return from active duty.&uot;

According to Lowe, his unit will actually be activated shortly after the first of the year.

&uot;And,&uot; he said, &uot; just a few days after that, we expect to be deployed overseas. Our current orders state that we will be on active duty for a period of one year, so I will be going.

&uot;Leaving the city with a fully functional government is a big concern. The council and I are considering options how best to do that to give the residents of the city the attention they deserve. We will more than likely make a decision and put some actions into effect probably (the Dec. 17 council meeting), the last I will probably be able to attend as the next will probably be after our activation date.&uot;

Alabama law states that upon being advised in writing by an elected or appointed official that the official has or will enter active military duty and desires privileges and immunity granted by the code, the municipal governing body or other appointing authority &uot;may appoint a temporary acting official who shall be clothed with all the powers, privileges and duties regularly exercised by the official in whose place he or she is acting.

&uot;The temporary acting official shall receive the same compensation payable in the same manner and from the same source as the official in whose place he or she is serving.&uot;

Also, &uot;Any person vacating an office pursuant to this chapter may recommend to the appropriate appointing authority the name of a person to fill his or her vacancy.&uot;

The council is expected to take such action at its meeting next week.

In other business, the council approved a contract in the amount of $30,000 to Sain & Associates for a ground survey in connection with the downtown renovation plan that will include curbs, sidewalks, street lights, other improvements and a round-about that will make traffic one-way around the old county courthouse.

In a related matter, the council approved a payment of $4,029 to Gresham, Smith & Partners for the city’s downtown renovation plan.

According to Charles L. Sowell III, associate landscape architect with Gresham Smith & Partners, the ground survey will take about 60 days to complete.

Construction drawings will take four to five months and the project should be ready for bid by May or June. Construction, he said, will take nine months to a year to complete.

In another matter, the council voted to seek a grant from the county for 25 percent or a maximum of $30,000 to fill in a ditch, sandblast and repaint the steel pavilion at College Park across from Elvin Hill Elementary School on Washington Street.

In other actions, the council:

Reappointed Sue Phillips and Carolyn Mundy to the Library Board.

Hired Glenda Stewart as a utility clerk at $11.50 hour with a raise to $12 per hour after six months probation.

Approved an expense $4,200 to Mainline replace the 27-year-old heating unit for the front office.

Approved a payment of $7,532 to Sain & Associates (to be reimbursed by the state) for improvements to five intersections at Highway 70 and Walton Street.

Approved a payment of $1,569 to C.C. Lynch & Associates for waste water treatment plant equipment.

Approved a payment of $1,067 to Piggly Wiggly

for the Parks and Recreation Board cookout this past summer.

Approved a payment of $4,150 for payment to Harrison Regional for the Annual Galaxy fiscal year 2003 computer catalog software.

Approved a transfer of funds from the General Fund to Ball Park Construction in the amount of $3,935 (all Parks & Recreation &045; City Portion). And a transfer from the General Fund to the Library Fund in the amount of $6,165