Helena City Council pays tribute to Khalia Smith, recognizes others

Published 2:04 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer 

HELENA – The Helena City Council approved a resolution to place a memorial bench on city property in remembrance and recognition of the life of Khalia Smith during a regularly scheduled city council meeting on Monday, Aug. 14.

The resolution, detailed by Councilwoman Laura Joseph, was quickly and unanimously approved by the council.

“Earlier this year a dear member of this community and Helena High School was taken to her heavenly home,” Joseph said. “Her family is here with us this evening. The city council, and the mayor, along with the city of Helena, has a resolution to pay tribute to Khalia Michelle Smith.”

The recognition honoring Smith made specific mention of her outspoken belief in God, noted her as an avid volunteer worker in both her church and local community and detailed her outstanding academic record. Smith, an inductee into the National Honor Society, was also active in the sports of volleyball and track and was set to graduate from Helena High School in May 2023. Smith’s life was cut tragically short following a single vehicle accident this past April.

Overall, the council noted that it was primarily an evening focused on recognitions, with the next being that of the council’s recognition and celebration of Mayor Brian Puckett’s successful completion of the advanced certification level in the state’s Municipal Official Program with the Alabama League of Municipalities.

“The program is basically like graduate school for council members and mayors,” Council President Alice Lobell said. “The mayor has completed his advanced certification level in about two-and-a-half years, where the average is four. I’m only aware of one other mayor of Helena that has done this. Brian, we applaud you and recognize you.”

Eagle Scout and teen council member Brant Laird, who also led the Pledge of Allegiance that began the session, was next to be recognized for his completion of his Eagle Scout project with Troop 532, which is a quarter-mile prayer trail behind the Church at Cahaba Bend across the street from Helena Intermediate School. The trail is now open to the public.

The council also recognized Kathy Paiml, Ms. Senior Alabama 2023, for her dedication and activism in the community.

“Kathy Paiml has been a pillar within the Helena community, giving her time and talents to those around,” Puckett said. “(She is) a retired principal of Helena Intermediate, who rode a scooter through the school, among many other amazing fun things she did for the kids. She is active in and promotes various organizations involving the special needs community and she shares the message to senior woman that, ‘Age is a state of mind, your heart has no wrinkles and your soul has no age.’”

Following her recognition and pictures taken with the council, the Helena City Council also officially welcomed the 2023-2024 Helena Teen Council following a previous introduction ceremony held on Sunday, Aug. 13. The teen council is comprised of 25 students in total, 10 of which are returning members from last year and 15 new inductees. They will take part in community outreach and volunteer work throughout the year.

The roster for the 2023-2024 Helena Teen Council is the following:

Returning members:

  • Anjali Reed
  • Brant Laird
  • Brock Humphrey
  • Claire Schultz
  • Cooper Tucker
  • Davis Bjornstad
  • Jake Bell
  • Miah Rosener
  • Peyton Traywick
  • Riley Hollabaugh

New Inductees:

  • Addisyn Cook
  • Anna Beth Goodman
  • Brandon Williams
  • Caitlyn Copeland
  • Ethan Hayes
  • Fin Unnoppet
  • Gavin Vansandt
  • Grayson Mayer
  • Jarret Scott
  • Kaden Vanderford
  • Kate Saylor
  • Lola Wade
  • Madi Saville
  • Maycie Lewis
  • Troy Morris

In other news, the Helena City Council approved the following:

  • A Resolution allowing the Alabama Department of Transportation access to maintain state roads and upgrade/maintain ramps and crosswalks present on state roads running through Helena.
  • Ordinance 914-2023A submitted by Shannon Crawford for the annexation of property located at 6900 Highway 13.