Pelham reappoints Bob O’Neil to BOE, hears Parks and Recreation updates

Published 1:07 pm Monday, April 22, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The Pelham City Council made the decision to reappoint Bob O’Neil to Place 1 on the Pelham City Schools Board of Education during a city council meeting on Monday, April 15.

The decision to reappoint O’Neil was included among a list of resolutions contained in the Council’s consent agenda which was passed unanimously.

O’Neil, whose current term expires this June, will be reappointed and sworn in upon that expiration to a new term ending in June 2029. O’Neil has served as a board member since July of 2019 and has been a resident of the city of Pelham since 2006.

“One of the resolutions passed in the consent agenda was the reappointment of Bob O’Neil to the school board,” City Council President Maurice Mercer said. “We again want to thank all of the applicants that presented themselves to Pelham. We had a lot of great residents and a lot of great talents (apply).”

O’Neil’s reappointment comes after a selection process that involved multiple candidates, including Markus Snowden, Judy Mannings and Angelyn Huguley as the three other candidates. The interview process went back to the original ranking system typically used by the Council and saw all four candidates sit for separate and uniform interview sessions where each answered the same prepared questions.

“Each year it is a tough decision to fill not only that seat but many seats,” Mercer said. “I encourage everybody to continue to get involved and continue to submit their names for appointment.”

The consent agenda also included the following resolutions:

  • The approval of a public works project with Gillespie Construction, LLC for labor and materials for sidewalk repairs and replacement in the Beaver Creek neighborhood. This project was a budgeted expense for the 2024 fiscal year
  • The approval of the bid from Temple J Electric, LLC for upgrades to traffic signal detectors at 10 sites within the city of Pelham. This project was a budgeted expense for the 2024 fiscal year
  • The approval of an agreement with Alabama Power Company to convert 87 city owned streetlights at signalized intersections to LED lights. This project was a budgeted expense for the 2024 fiscal year
  • The entering into an extension agreement with Mark Dinan, broker, for the sole and exclusive right to sell, trade, convey or exchange city owned properties located at Oak Mountain Trail (Shelby County Highways 52E and 35)
  • The entering into a public works contract with Rast Construction, Inc. for the purchase and installation of two fire hydrants along Ballantrae Club Drive. This project was a budgeted expense for the 2024 fiscal year

Mayor Gary Waters also proclaimed the month of April 2024 as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Pelham. In doing so, Waters called for the strengthening of protective measures such as home visitations, economic supports and the expansion of community-based child abuse prevention programs on all levels and fronts.

City Manager Gretchen DiFante then brought attention to the new hiring of three Pelham officers, a development that now leaves the Pelham Police Department with only three more openings for the whole department.

“This is, I believe, is a record in at least the last seven years.” DiFante said.

Mike Reid, chief of the Pelham Fire Department also took the evening to recognize Battalion Chief Mike Jones, who recently retired.

“Chief Jones gave 34 years of service to the Pelham Fire Department, working his way up to Battalion Chief in 2017,” Reid said. “He has truly committed to the city of Pelham throughout his years of service here. (He) has also committed to our state and to our nation because he served in the Alabama National Guard and attained the rank of Command Sgt. Major for the state of Alabama.”

Jones also served the city of Pelham in his role as the Personal Protective Equipment officer for the fire department over a period of years.

To recognize the years of service, Reid presented Jones with the thanks and recognition from the fire department and a plaque bearing the recognition of his service and accomplishments.

“In 1990, I started here,” Jones said. “Mayor Waters was my chief (then) and 34 years ago I started this career and never knew how rewarding it would be. After all of this time, I got to do a lot of different things and I had my (wife) with me all the way.”

Jones thanked the Council and Reid and especially thanked Mayor Waters in both his role as an immediate superior during his time as fire chief and now in his role as mayor.

“I’m just thankful for the opportunities that the city gave me,” Jones said. “I never had too many bosses at the fire department, I always had leaders and I really appreciate it.”

Parks and Recreation Director Brian Cooper then detailed a number of updates to the Council that included recent successes in the Pelham Senior Center.

“Our numbers are skyrocketing at the senior center,” Cooper said. “We’re averaging about 29 new members a month every month.”

According to Cooper, the senior center has also grown to exceed 860 members and has expanded its 27 programs a month to an average of 33. The center has also established overnight trips to its programs and has at least four planned for the year, with more expected.

Cooper also updated the city on the new city playground and splashpad area.

“We’re coming along,” Cooper said. “The parking lot project is going to wrap up hopefully at the end of April. At the playground we had a little glitch that we are having to repair—it was a mistake that was caught during the walkthrough.”

That issue was currently being addressed at the time of the meeting and is now expected to have been fully rectified.

“We will be ready to open in the middle of May,” Cooper said. “No specific date yet, but we are targeting for May 11 (to open).”

Cooper also presented a proposal on a future use for the area that formerly served as the old playground. That suggestion would incorporate the area into a new facility to serve the city’s NHL Street and Soccer programs.

“We think we can do a lot more programming with a new facility,” Cooper said. “We believe we are going to have enough money left in our capital funds this year after all of our projects are done to possibly build an outdoor soccer-hockey court for us to program our NHL Street program that we’re going to start this summer.”

Cooper’s proposal constituted three courts that could be used for the street hockey program as well as 3-on-3, 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 soccer games. He also noted that the area could serve as an area for cheerleading practice.

“We can get creative with that space,” Cooper said. “We’re looking forward to it if we can get to that point where we can really narrow down the cost. We will hopefully be bringing it to (the Council) soon.”

The Council also unanimously approved a resolution to approve an ABC license application for a 140 Special Events Retail – Liquor License for Event Concessions, Inc. operating under the trade name Xterra located at 200 Terrace Drive in Pelham.

Prior to the passage of the consent agenda, Resolution 2024-04-15-06 which called for an agreement with Cushman & Wakefield of Georgia, LLC to conduct a “Hotel Feasibility and Market Study” for the city, was removed from the consent agenda as part of discussions that took place during the Council’s work session.

In other news, the Council will also be accepting letters of interest and resumes through Friday, May 3 at 4 p.m. from residents who would like to be considered for an appointment to a vacancy on the Pelham Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Place No. 7.

Those interested in the position can find the application under City News on the Pelham city website. The city clerk/treasurer will acknowledge all receipts of applications via email.