Let's clean out the notebook ...
• The Sipsey Town Council had a called meeting on Tuesday night, and I finally got a chance to cover one of their meetings. I wouldn't say any earth-shaking decisions were made, but some organizational matters were improved upon. It will be a lot better once they pick a new city clerk and have that person trained. They are going to have interviews Monday, and I would hope they pick someone by the Oct. 15 meeting. I'm sure the Alabama League of Municipalities and other clerks in the county will be happy to help get that person up to speed.
Frankly, you could tell Monday city officials want to get some matters settled. Citizens are also concerned about the town, especially what is going on the streets. I met the police chief and I think he has a chance to prove himself, although it may take some extra effort to deal with some elements in town. The good thing is that the citizens who showed up, while some had some issues, seemed supportive of the town in general. (I think someone had a good idea to get a city attorney to attend the meetings, and I wondered if executive session might be the more proper way to air some complaints when good name and character of employees are involved.)
Let us be frank: Sipsey has gotten a reputation for in-fighting over the years, and perhaps from what I judged officials are determined to clean it up and move on. I have to admit I was a little surprised that it was moving in that direction. A few items came up, but they seemed willing to address the issues. I know they have had other challenges, ranging from the lack of a city clerk to Mayor Jerry Sadler still dealing with the after effects of a serious accident. (He was present but repeatedly noted he has had his health challenges.)
Frankly, from what I saw, I am willing to put behind the stereotype we in other parts of the county have had of the town and start from scratch in how we view the town. That is the only way to help the citizens of that town is to take a fresh approach. And before we get dismissive, remember what we used to say a decade ago about Parrish, Oakman and Carbon Hill? Those cities have improved as well. I think we have been willing to just take the rumors and the TV reports to heart as being all there is to say about Sipsey, and that really isn't fair to a standing municipality.
Frankly, and I'm pleading guilty here, but I am not sure the Eagle has been helpful by not offering more coverage. (Some of us were surprised to hear the regular meetings are once a month the middle of a Monday afternoon. If we can't handle that 15 minutes away in the daytime, we might as well run nothing but press releases.)
This effort will take patience and cooperation from the officials and the citizens, as well as building some trust. And I think once that is demonstrated, that might lead to increased resources, such as dealing with some of the criminal elements in the town. If everyone commits to that type of fresh start, I think Sipsey can be the model town that it once was in its heyday.
By the way, as I understand it, the town council meets at 3:30 p.m. on the third Monday of the month in the community center, near the town hall.
• The Walker County Commission finally took the leap this week and increased revenue for business licenses and lodging. I still can't believe I got it mixed up in the second story about Steven Aderholt's vote, but it was all written in a hurry in one afternoon, the whole thing, so my mind just got the subjects switched. He voted against the business license, not the lodging — although to tell the truth, I sensed there were several subjects he would have preferred to wait to have more information about.
In some respects, more of the process could have been earlier, but they also couldn't wait much later either, as the fiscal year started that day, and they did seem to have enough details to show they were quite behind on some of these rates. I could tell by Chairman Jerry Bishop's body language he was ready to move on, as there are not many avenues of revenue they can raise and this did seem logical, with business licenses 30 years behind and lodging affecting travelers mostly.
I will say that hundreds of thousands of dollars will help, if that revenue comes in, and certainly it makes sense in balancing the budget and providing cushion. Some of that, as approved, needs to go to job-creation entities like the county industrial board and the chambers, as that only generates more money in time, and some needed to go back into the community. But essentially this gives some more cushion to the commission in its finances — although when one considers repairs and other needs can crop up, it still isn't much of one. It is still very tight down there, but this will buy the commission time before long-term solutions are looked at, probably next year.
By the way, the commission will be having one of its quarterly night meetings Monday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. This is one of those efforts to give citizens a chance to ask questions or see about needs at night, when they have a better chance after work to talk to the commission. Their time to speak is at the start of the meeting, so one doesn't have to stay for the whole meeting if they don't want to. Each speaker gets three minutes, with each topic allowed no more than two speakers. (However, to be realistic, one can also catch them before and after meetings.)
• It is looking like festivals for the fall are in full swing. The Frog Festival in Sumiton will be on Saturday, and that always seems to have a good crowd to come. It has certainly been one of the more successful festivals in the area, and I think it will be even better as the city now seems to be turning toward downtown revitalization efforts. I am excited for what Sumiton can do to improve itself with those efforts.
We don't need to forget that The Day's Gap festival in Oakman will be on Friday and Saturday next week. That festival seems like it did well last year, and I am excited for their efforts.
• My understanding is that Jasper's homecoming will be at 1 p.m. Friday and that means there will be a big parade that day. Cars have to be lined up in the old school parking lot by 12:30 p.m. that day, and political and business ads will not be allowed in the parade. The floats will line up at the new school.
• I don't know how many of your were bleary-eyed like me Wednesday morning, but some of us watched the Cubs-Rockies wildcard game Tuesday night. I hadn't had time to watch a baseball game all year, and normally I say TV games are not as good as the live ones, but this game was a dandy. It went 13 innings, a new record for a wildcard game, and it was a great effort on pitching and catching. I recall thinking Jon Lester would have been good for another inning or so, but who knew it would last 13 innings? Several friends texted each other saying that it was a shame anyone had to win, and I know my Cubs were disappointed to lose at home like that. But I have a friend who has always rooted for the Rockies, so I have good feelings about them, too.