Councilwoman withdraws request for tax-funded reading program

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham will not fund the proposed tax dollar-funded Preschool Reading Initiative for the upcoming budget year, the Pelham City Council announced during a Sept. 20 meeting.

The announcement came after Councilwoman Teresa Nichols withdrew her motion requesting the city pay up to $250,000 to fund the project for the 2011 budget year, which begins Oct. 1, 2010.

The move came about a month after many spoke against the reading program during a public forum at the Pelham Civic Complex.

“This resolution came out of an effort to support our schools through a systemic, preschool reading readiness effort,” Nichols said. “There has been much public discussion, and the voice of the people, at this time, does not appear to be in support of the expenditure to implement the resolution.

“At this time, I respectfully withdraw this resolution,” Nichols added.

If passed, the reading program would be a partnership between seven Pelham preschools, the Pelham Public Library, United Way, Valley Elementary School, the Linda Nolen Learning Center and the city.

Through the program, the preschools, Linda Nolen Learning Center and VES would focus on better preparing 4- and 5-year-olds to read before entering school.

Nichols said she planned to search for alternate funding sources for the project, and will update the council as she looks into the matter.

“A good thing that has resulted from this effort is the involvement of Pelham citizens in their government goings-on,” Nichols said.

Councilman Steve Powell, who has spoken against funding the project with tax dollars, said he would support Nichols as she seeks alternate funding sources for the program.

“I have always spoken out against the use of tax dollars to fund the program. I was never against the program itself,” Powell said. “I support Teresa in her efforts.

“I hope we can work together as a council to find alternate funding sources for this,” Powell added.

In other business:

– Pelham Mayor Don Murphy declared Sept. 24 as Tom Kimbrough Day, in honor of the creator of the “Pelham swirl” logo seen on city printed materials, city property and many other Pelham items.

– The council reappointed Clay Johnson to the Industrial Development Board and reappointed Betsy Whitfield, Mosley Johnson, Neville Peacock, Jeff Speegle and Darlene Webb to the Beautification Board.

– The council appointed Nancy English, Maurice Mercer, Pamela Thurber and Jean Wagner to the Beautification Board.