Columbiana Council back to pre-war status

What’s old is new again.

After eight months of change as a result of the war with Iraq a half a world away, the Columbiana City Council has once again taken on a familiar face.

And following suit with other cities such as Montevallo and Calera, Columbiana has taken steps to raise its tobacco tax before a Sept. 1 deadline.

As a result of recent council actions July 15 through Aug. 19, Allan Lowe is once again in the mayor’s office.

Tom Seale is back as District 4 councilmember. He is also a member of the Columbiana Water Board and once again serving as mayor pro tem.

Ouida Mayfield is back in her familiar role as a councilmember, no longer serving on the water board or as mayor pro tem. And Lowe’s wife, Scarlott, is no longer a member of the City Council.

The political game of musical chairs to return the council to a semblance to its former self was spread over the length of

three council meetings held July 15,

Aug. 5 and 19.

Columbiana’s City Hall was turned topsy-turvy when Mayor Lowe was called to active duty during Operation Enduring Freedom to overthrow the regime of Sadaam Hussein.

Lowe was deployed as a member of Alabama Army National Guard Detachment 1, 200th Materiel Management Center, based in Homewood, which was activated Jan. 3 and left Sunday, Jan. 5 on its way to Germany and Turkey.

Aware of his pending active military duty, Lowe made use of state law to relinquish his mayoral position temporarily which began a domino effect of changes on the city council.

He returned in July.

On July 15, the council accepted a letter from Lowe stating that he intended to resume his duties as mayor; and the city clerk was instructed to inform acting Mayor Seale that his powers, privileges and duties as mayor would automatically terminate.

On Aug. 5, Seale resigned his position of acting mayor. He had previously given up his District 4 council seat to take the post in Lowe’s absence.

Lowe was then appointed mayor with Seale administering the oath of office.

At the council’s most recent meeting, Seale was appointed to fill the unexpired term of former councilmember Scarlott Lowe and administered the oath of office by Allan Lowe while Seale’s wife, Brenda, held the Bible and their two sons, Jonathan and Jared, looked on.

All the actions of the council leading to Seale’s reinstatement on the council, including payment of bills were unanimous with the District 4 Council seat vacant.

Mayfield then resigned as mayor pro tem and a member of the water board. Seale was elected mayor pro team and was appointed to fill Mayfield’s post on the water board for a term to end in 2008.

In other business, the city took action on its tobacco tax.

Should Gov. Bob Riley’s accountability and tax package pass Sept. 9, cities which did not raise their tobacco taxes before Sept. 1 would be unable to do so.

As a result, the Columbiana City Council voted to amend its tobacco license tax on all tobacco products.

Under the amended ordinance, which becomes effective on Aug. 31, taxes on packs of cigarettes, boxes, pouches, cans or other containers of other tobacco products and cigars (sold individually or collectively) were increased from 5 to 10 cents.

Seale said 100 percent of the funds from the tobacco tax is used to support Columbiana parks and recreation.

Columbiana Police Chief Michael Lann reported during pre-council that Police Officer David Morrow graded 93 percent and was selected Class Chaplain at Police Academy.

Gene Quick, a resident of Shelby who previously lived in Columbiana, urged the council to express opposition to state funds being used on a bridge across the Coosa River between Talladega and Shelby Counties.

In addition to objection to use of state funds, he said Columbiana did not need the traffic.

Other actions unanimously approved by the council included:

Authorized use of a credit card by Joanna Seale and Terry Collum for Revenue Officer training.

Approval to increase the payment of the interpreter paid by the court at $50 per hour and $25 per portion of an hour.

Approved the purchase of digital recorders for the Police Department not to exceed $1,800.

Approved the transfer of funds from the General Fund to the Library Account in the amount of $3,279.29 and from the General Fund to Ball Park Construction Account in the amount of $728.97.

Set the newsletter deadline as Sept. 5 and set a public hearing for Aug. 21