Helena recognizes HMS Cheer team for championship win at City Council meeting

Published 11:03 pm Friday, January 19, 2024

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

HELENA – The Helena City Council recognized the Helena Middle School Cheerleaders with a proclamation acknowledging their successful triumph during the 2023 Alabama High School Athletic Association State Cheer Competition and also declared the month of January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month during a regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Monday, Jan. 8.

The meeting began on the somber note of acknowledging the victims and signs of human trafficking and the work that is being done to repair the damage done and prevent future instances of the crime.

“Anyone can become a victim of trafficking,” Mayor Brian Puckett said. “While women and girls are (usually) the primary victims, victims and survivors come from every background, race, gender, sexual orientation and economic status.”

To acknowledge and codify the recognition, Puckett read from the city’s proclamation to an audience including representatives from the Child Trafficking Solutions project.

“Even though awareness of this crime is growing, human trafficking continues to go unreported due to its isolating nature, the misunderstanding of its definition, and the lack of awareness of it and its indicators,” Puckett said. “Increased community education on how to identify victims of human trafficking along with increased knowledge of local resources and services for those affected by the criminal actions can help restore freedom and dignity to identified survivors.”

Puckett, as well as the members of the City Council, thanked all of those in attendance and those absent who work to bring awareness to the topic.

“I know that you are constantly looking at ways to help people who have been in this situation and also helping people avoid these situations entirely,” Puckett said. “We hope that the community around us continues to get more educated about human trafficking.”

Following the proclamation, the council formally recognized the Helena Middle School cheerleaders for their first-place victory at the 2023 Alabama High School Athletic Association State Cheer Competition.

The cheer team, which competed in the junior-high-large division on Tuesday, Dec. 12 last year, stood in front of a celebratory audience of their friends, family and community members, who took pictures and listened to the proclamation issued in their honor.

“The girls represent Helena Middle School and this community in a manner that is commendable both in competition and in the classroom as students,” Puckett said.

Coaches Mallory Tesmer and Kristy Bender also stood with their team, and further recognized coach Jay Taylor who was unable to attend.

“We recognize the pride and honor that Helena Middle School Cheerleaders have brought to our community through their success in the competition.”

In a surprise announcement, Puckett also declared the city’s intention to pay for the team to secure their state championship rings to ensure that the success of the team, and each member’s ability to celebrate the victory, would not come at a cost to the parents.

“I know all of the hard work that you all put in whether it be stunting, tumbling or making sure your motions are sharp, I know what you all go through,” Puckett said. “Congratulations for all of the success this year.”

To cover the costs of the rings, the team was then presented with a check amounting to roughly $5,100 for the cost of the rings.

In other news, the Council performed the following:

  • Approved an amendment to Ordinance-908-2022 Permitting Low Speed Vehicles Ordinance to add a prorated rate after Sept. 1, 2023.
  • Approved the annexation of 4496 Eaglewood Dr. owned by Brittany Davis and Brandon McCombs.
  • Presented multiple first readings for annexation ordinances that will be approved or denied at the next council meeting.
  • Tabled the approval or denial of the city’s sponsorship of the Arc of Shelby County by removing it from the agenda.