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Residents react to city's cut in education funding

By By Paul Keane
Publisher
At least two residents stood up at Monday's meeting of the Atmore City Council to express support for both the schools and the city as both entities face severe budget crunches in the months ahead.
The City Council voted to rescind an ordinance that provided a portion of the city sales tax to education needs of schools within the city limits. That will cost the school district more than $250,000 in funding while it faces other funding cuts from the state through proration.
Local resident Dick Dickinson said he's lived in Atmore nearly all his life, and he hopes that things can be worked out.
"I've been in Atmore, except when I was shipped overseas, going on 76 years now," he said. "I was born here, and this has been my home and will remain my home.
"My dad taught in the school district, my mother helped open the lunchroom at Rachel Patterson, my daughter and my son-in-law have all taught in the schools. My family has been deeply involved in this community and in its schools.
"I would like to ask the Council to consider undoing what it has just done. Give it some time and see what happens before you make a decision like this."
Tommy Gerlach, owner of Gerlach's Restaurant, told the audience that both the schools and city have to remain fiscally sound through solid business practices, and that these challenges can be met and overcome.
"The last time I came back to Atmore, I dreamed of opening a white tablecloth restaurant in a small town," he said. "Everyone said it wouldn't work, but we've been making a go of it for five years now. And I don't plan on changing out the white tablecloths with red and white checkered ones and start serving barbecue.
"I'm going to keep working to make my business a success, and the city is a business and has to be run like a business. I know, because I've seen it, that the city and the Mayor are working hard to bring some businesses and industries to this area, and they are going to keep working hard.
"What we've got to do now is all pull together and work together to meet these challenges and find solutions," he added.