Alabaster hires school attorneys

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Alabaster City Council voted unanimously Nov. 7 to appoint attorneys from the Birmingham-based Bishop, Colvin, Johnson and Kent law firm to represent the city during its split from the Shelby County School System.

The firm also is used by the Jefferson County Board of Education, Alabaster City Attorney Jeff Brumlow said previously. Brumlow encouraged the council to appoint the law firm after he said he would not feel comfortable representing the city in the school split because of his lack of experience in the field.

Alabaster will pay $175 per hour for work performed by partners in the Bishop, Colvin, Johnson and Kent law firm, and will pay $155 per hour for work performed by associates at the law firm.

The Alabaster City Council will pay the attorneys using money generated by a recent 1-cent sales and use tax increase until the Alabaster school board is appointed. After the school board is seated, it will take responsibility for paying the attorneys, as well as all other school-related financial matters.

The school attorneys will work with the Shelby County School System to negotiate Alabaster’s split from the system. The negotiations will determine ownership of the equipment, the buses and even some of the school buildings after the split.

Carl Johnson Jr. and Whit Colvin, both attorneys with the law firm, previously told the council the city school board should work to hire a city schools superintendent, a “limited staff” to support the superintendent through the preliminary stages of separation and a “competent financial officer” to help plan the district’s finances.

During the Nov. 7 meeting, Ward 6 Councilman Scott Brakefield said the council’s Education Committee will take its first steps toward appointing members to the city school board during a Nov. 9 meeting at 7 p.m. at the Alabaster Senior Center.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to demolish an abandoned house at 332 Pebble Lane.

The council previously agreed to give the Jackson, Miss.-based Cimarron company, the mortgage holders of the house, until mid-October to begin renovation work on the dilapidated home.

City Building Official Steve Sims said during the Nov. 7 meeting the company had not yet made an attempt to secure a building permit for the home.

“Some extensive work needs to be done,” Sims said.

Ward 4 Councilman Rick Walters said residents near the home “would like to see the house renovated,” and said the council will consider a motion to rescind the demolition if the company takes steps to bring the house up to standard within 30 days.