By Alison James

Associate Editor

Gambro’s upcoming expansion was a topic of some excitement Tuesday night at Opelika’s City Council meeting.

In presenting the plans, city attorney Guy Gunter introduced the project as a “very large, major expansion.”

“We’re tickled to death to have you doing the expansion,” council President Eddie Smith told the representatives from Baxter present at the meeting. “I look forward to the next groundbreaking … we welcome each and every one of you to Opelika. It’s especially our honor to have you consider our community and make the kind of investment you’re making.”

(Editor’s note – Further details on this announcement are presented in “Gambro to expand in Opelika” in this issue of the Observer.)

Oscar Penn once again spoke during citizens communications in regards to a picture hangman’s noose on a city vehicle. Penn made reference to racist acts of the past and cautioned the council about “a snowball rolling down hill” in regards to the potential for racism to build.

Mayor Gary Fuller had a few words to say on the issue.

“We did look into that. The supervisor that took that picture did not report that to anyone … and then brought it up when he was in the process of losing his job,” Fuller said. “Now in regards to something that happened in the ‘80s – don’t hold this council and don’t hold this mayor responsible for that. We’ve come a long way from then, and I would challenge anyone to think we would condone anything of that nature. We’re not going to do it, Oscar. We’ve got a great city here and great citizens, and we’re in this thing together.”

The council also:

– set public hearing dates to assess the cost of demolition at 2313 Cunningham Drive, 709 India Road, 104 Woodrow Place, 110 Dover St., 407A and 407B Palmer Ave., and 113 and 115 Plum Ave.

– approved the purchase of: four three-phase circuit breakers and 12 single-phase voltage regulators for OPS; one Christmas tree base for the public works department; one mobile camera kit and training for the OPD; one MTSI FATS 17 training system and bluefire weapons simulator for the OPD; on 2015 M2 I06 conventional chassis with Ramer model 350 loader truck for the solid waste department.

– awarded a bid for a fleet GPS system for the IT department.

– recognized Billy Goldsborough for his certification in human resources.

– recognized Jonathan Whaley as the police officer of the month.

– approved a block party street closure request.

– amended the public works manual to include reference to a public works director.