Atmore digs in to its pockets

Published 7:03 am Wednesday, April 13, 2005

By by Adam Prestridge
Atmore Mayor Howard Shell will be writing some big checks over the next six months.
Shell announced at Monday afternoon's city council meeting that Sprint Communications had requested a refund of $129,678.98. He said an audit revealed that the communication provider had overpaid the city the lofty amount of money over the past two years and wants it back.
"We tried to tell them thank you and we certainly appreciated the overpayment," Shell said. "We weren't the only city that fell into this category. In doing their audit they (Sprint) found that they had done this in a couple of other places."
Even though Atmore's pocketbook was hit hard, Shell said the city was fortunate.
"At all the other places, they have been required to pay it back in one lump some," Shell said. "Thanks to our smooth talking city clerk, we were able to get it broken down into six different payments, but we do have to repay it."
The city will be required to pay six equal payments of $21,613.16 beginning April 20. The last payment is due on Sept. 20.
Of the $129,678.98 due, $23,255.46 is interest.
The council also heard from Paul Darnell with DMD Engineers regarding street and drainage improvements about to get underway throughout the city thanks to funds available through a Community Development Block Grant.
"We have the plans ready for bid," Darnell said. "We're tentatively talking about bidding the project on May 5 and having everything ready for the council to hopefully approve at the council meeting on May 9."
The improvements include a storm drainage pipe on the south side of Liberty Street from Harris Street to Maxwell Street; a few improvements at Montgomery Street and Cross Street as well as some ditch cleaning on Cross Street; resurfacing on Harris Street north of Liberty Street to Montgomery Street, Curtis Street , Maxwell Street, Liberty Street and back to Montgomery Street.
"As part of putting the project together, we spent several days here looking during rain and have added a few things to the project to handle some of the ponding areas out there," Darnell said. "As you're aware, it's very flat. There's a sidewalk on the north side of Liberty that we want to add a couple of inlets to hopefully get some of the water that is currently running on the north side of Liberty into our drainage pipe on the south side."
Darnell also discussed the Transportation Enhancement Program for sidewalk improvement as part of the Alabama Department of Transportation the city is currently working on.
The project has been in limbo since Hurricane Ivan, which hit just after the funds were approved. Darnell said the DOT agreed to delay the project until some of the cleanup was complete.
"We've also found that since the hurricane, the contractors that do this type of work are all busy," Darnell said. "So we've delayed a little bit more just to hopefully allow the contractors a little bit of time for prices to get back to halfway reasonable. So we're at the stage to where we're ready to go ahead and proceed with this project."
Sidewalks will be constructed from Martin Luther King Drive to Medical Park Drive from the old junior high school to Atmore Community Hospital and down Hwy. 21 north to the new middle school.
At the meeting, the mayor and council also proceeded with the proper paperwork to get the ball rolling for another grant awarded to the city for additional sidewalks throughout the city.
The second phase of sidewalks will be constructed down Hwy. 21 south from Horner Street to Pizza Hut, down Hwy. 31 from Presley Street to School Street, from Martin Luther King Drive from Brushy Creek to the city limits and a piece on Horner Street to Presley Street to Hwy. 21.
"This is getting sidewalks pretty much throughout the city," Darnell said. "Grants have been a good source of funding for sidewalks for the city."
In other business, the council:
n Entered into a supplemental agreement with Volkert &Associates involving funds received from the Federal Aviation Administration for work to be performed at the Atmore Municipal Airport as a result of Hurricane Ivan. A portion of the $1.6 million will help pay for asphalt and dirt work at the airport as well as replacement of hangers and fencing.
n Agreed to deposit $9,000 into the Alabama Department of Transportation's account used for traffic signal repairs.
"This is the first time we've had to add any money into this account in quite a while," Shell said. "They are pretty good stewards of the money. They respond when we have serious needs with our traffic signals."
The funds in the special work account have been depleted and cities throughout the state are being asked to help replenish the account.
n Agreed to complete the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) application, which will be used by the Atmore Police Department to replace the server that supports the departments Police Pak Software and 15 workstations. The software helps to maintain arrest records, incident records, pawn tickets and accident reports.
The JAG application is to be completed by the City of Atmore, the City of Brewton and Escambia County for funds totaling $26,409. Atmore, Brewton and the county will receive $8,803 each.
Brewton will use its funds for a new server, Microsoft 2003 with 10 licenses, antivirus software, onsite and offsite storage, a printer and four workstations totaling $12,650. The city will have to pay $3,847 and the remainder will be paid through the grant.
The county will use the funds for replacement and installation of a new radio repeater, which will cost $14,000. The county will pay $5,197 and the grant will pay the rest of the tab.
n Approved the transfer of a Class I lounge retail liquor license from Harold Dailey for the Flamingo Terrace Social Club, Inc. to Tonia America and William America for the Flamingo Terrace Lounge. The council was made aware that Tonia America and William America will later apply for a club license.
n Approved a request from Glenda McCall for use of Tom Byrne Park for a benefit singing and cookout on May 21 for a resident with cancer.
n Approved the minutes of the March 28 council meeting.
n Agreed to pay the bills.

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