Pelham honors female leaders as part of women’s history month

Published 11:54 am Thursday, March 21, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM — On Monday, March 18, the Pelham City Council formally recognized women’s history month by inviting all former female city council members to the meeting and recognizing them for their work and years of service with a special proclamation.

As part of the meeting, the Pelham City Council and Pelham Mayor Gary Waters issued a proclamation and resolution that declared March 2024 as a month recognizing Pelham’s elected women leaders.

To open the meeting, the Council invited a special invocation led by Rev. Dixie Ford, pastor of Crosscreek Baptist Church.

“Tonight, in particular, we give You thanks for the women who lead in our city—the women who plan, empower and organize,” Ford said. “(We give thanks for) the women who make tough decisions, work for justice, who lead by listening and by serving—women who lead with intentionality, integrity, humility and sacrificial love.”

Ford’s invocation provided a special focus toward the women in the audience and guided thanks to the honorees of the evening who Ford considered blessed to lead in the city of Pelham and to follow a higher calling and inspiration.

“It is an honor and privilege to have each of you here this evening,” Council President Maurice Mercer said. “We wanted to have a special time to welcome back councilwoman Lanier-Reed, as well as the other ladies who have served Pelham—really since the city’s inception. (Unfortunately,) we do have a couple of members who could not be with us here tonight.”

Prior to the start of the meeting, the Council invited its female leaders to a reception held in their honor that included a wide variety of refreshments, sweets and other food items. The reception allowed many of the council members the increasingly rare opportunity to interact with their predecessors and to share stories of past cooperation and events.

Two former council women, Beverly Hall and Karyl Rice, were posthumously recognized for their years of service on the Council. Hall, who died in May of last year, was the first woman to serve on Pelham’s Council and was specifically recognized for her service on the Pelham City Council from 1983-1988. While Rice, who died roughly one month after Hall, was recognized for her terms of service that saw her preside on the council from 1984-2016, the longest continuous service of any member of the Council.

“We (also) ask for special prayers for Dr. Teresa Nichols Riddle, who couldn’t be with us this evening,” Mercer said. “If you haven’t heard, Miss Riddle is sick and I hear that she may pass any day, so, unfortunately, she cannot be with us this evening.”

In attendance at the function were former councilwomen Beth McMillan, Connie LaBue and Mildred Lanier Reed.

“Thank you for your service and thank you for knocking down the barriers for others to come after you,” Mercer said. “I’ve had the pleasure of serving with two (of these women) and I personally think that I grew by working alongside you and I appreciate that.”

The complete list of those honored by the city’s proclamation was as follows:

  •  Beverly Hall from 1983-1988
  •  Karyl Rice from 1984-2016
  •  Connie LaBue from 1988-1996
  •  Rosemary Metcalf from 2000-2008
  •  Dr. Teresa Nichols Riddle from 2008-2012
  •  Beth McMillan from 2012-2020
  •  Mildred Lanier-Reed from 2016-2024

Additionally, the Council thanked every woman that works with the city in any capacity and further encouraged citizens to honor and reflect on the achievements, contributions and successes of all women locally, nationally and globally.

“Thank you all so much to the mayor, the city manager and others who have thought of this very special evening,” Lanier-Reed said. “Not just for myself, but for all of the women who have served before me and served with me, it is truly an honor to be able to honor God by service. I truly believe that to serve in government is a calling.”

Lanier-Reed further thanked God, the other women in attendance and the Council for the opportunity to serve the city alongside them.

“I love this city and I will always love this city,” Lanier-Reed said. “I pray that God continues to bless this wonderful city, its leadership, its residents and all who work, serve and play here. Thank you so much.”

LaBue, who served on the Council until 1996, and holds the distinction of being the youngest councilmember ever elected, mirrored that appreciation for service.

“To have been a part of the growth that we have seen—and (to see) where the city is today thanks to everyone’s efforts, it is really an honor to say that I am from Pelham,” LaBue said. “Thank you for all you have done and thank you for this honor.”

McMillan also turned the attention back toward the people and the women of the community by imploring more to get involved in the political process.

“Thank you for thinking enough of us to honor us tonight,” McMillan said. “I’m just overwhelmed that we were worthy of you celebrating us tonight. I would like to encourage all women in younger generations and women today to get involved. You can get involved in local government and you can get involved with the school board, the library or whatever is in your community. You will feel more a part of that community when you are involved. I feel like I was blessed through this process and just want to thank you all.”

Following that focus, City Manager Gretchen DiFante also invited Pelham Communications Manager Ainsley Allison and Director of Development Services & Public Works Andre Bittas to address the Council on the progress that has been made on the implementation of the city’s Capital Projects Dashboard that now serves to help residents track the city’s completed and ongoing capital projects with an interactive map.

“I think it is important that we keep (the progress on projects) up front and make sure that the public is aware of what we are doing,” Bittas said. “There are a lot of projects that we do and they range from small stuff like equipment repair to the $50 million flyover (project) for Highway 52. From infrastructure, public facilities, water, sewer, drainage improvements—it’s a lot.”

Bittas explained that the interactive map would serve in the crucial role of maintaining an open form of communication with the public that would allow for full transparency relating to ongoing projects. Officials also believe that the map will also serve to cut down on inquiry requests for projects that continue for lengthy periods of time.

Allison also made sure to thank those in the Pelham IT department for the work that has gone into the organization and implementation of the map.

“Because it is run through our GIS software, we wanted to make it mirror what our main website looks like,” Allison said.

The interactive dashboard and projects map can be accessed by navigating through the government tab on the Pelham city website at or directly at

During the meeting, the Council also passed its consent agenda that included the following measures:

  • Approval of the city manager’s revised employment agreement.
  • Accepted the city of Pelham’s audit for the 2023 fiscal year as prepared and presented by the city’s independent auditors, Truitt Tingle Paramore & Argent, LLC, Certified Public Accountants.
  • Approval of a 36-month lease agreement for four pre-owned 2020 club car gas utility vehicles for the Ballantrae Golf Club. This was a budgeted expense.
  • Approval of an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation for the cooperative maintenance of a public sidewalk along Pelham Parkway included as a part of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car development.
  • Acceptance of the bid from Central Alabama Asphalt & Construction Company, LLC for the city’s street resurfacing projects budgeted for the 2024 fiscal year.

Riddle, who was fondly remembered and discussed during the meeting, passed away the following day on Tuesday, March 19.