Henry J. Stern foundation donates to Rocky Brook Rocket

By Alison James
Associate Editor

The Rocky Brook Rocket’s newest passenger will honor the late Henry J. Stern and his family with a recent donation to the train’s refurbishment.
The city council Tuesday approved an agreement between the city and the Henry J. Stern Family Foundation, accepting $15,000 toward the restoration of the historic train in exchange for naming the recently-acquired passenger car after the well-known family.
J. and Ginger Stern were present for the announcement at the city council meeting.
“It would mean the world to Mom and Dad to know about this, so we’re just glad that their name will live on,” said Ginger.
“I just want to thank everybody for taking our money,” added J., joking. “Opelika means the world to us.”
In a move that caused a chuckle among the citizens in attendance, the council removed from the table, and immediately re-tabled, the ordinance to update cemetery charges that has been in the works for several months.
After a motion and second to remove the ordinance from the table in order to put it to a vote, Councilman Larry Gray commented with his preference that the ordinance be left on the table because of Councilwoman Patsy Parker’s absence. Parker had previously expressed disapproval of the ordinance. Gray said.
To follow proper meeting procedure, the council went through with the vote to remove the ordinance from the table, which passed 3-1 with Gray as the sole nay vote. A motion and second were made to re-table the ordinance, which passed 3-1 with Smith as the sole nay vote. Smith said he felt the ordinance had been left hanging in the balance long enough.
During citizens communications, Lee County Commissioner John Andrew Harris brought forth two problems on behalf of local citizens – Clayton Alexander, who is continuing to have concerns about a noisy business next door to his home, and Brittany Dowdell and family, who is looking for restitution following wrongful assault. Council President Eddie Smith said the city will look into both issues.
The council also:
– held first reading for an ordinance to dissolve the Opelika Tree Commission and instead provide for tree advice to come under the public works department and Keep Opelika Beautiful. “We met with them and didn’t have negative comments from any of them,” said city administrator Joey Motley. “This is just a little better way to budget the money we want to spend there.”
– held public hearings to assess the costs of demolitions, and subsequently approved the assessed costs, for the following properties: 406 S. 5th St., 903 York Ave., 105 Vaughan Ave., 502 and 504 S. 4th St.,  411 Palmer Ave., 300 Cedar Creek Drive, 202 N. 22nd St., and 3313 Pepperell Parkway.
– approved special appropriations to Envision Opelika, Parks and Recreation and the Opelika High School Theatre Society.
– appointed Dr. Kevin Royal, and re-appointed Katy Leonard, to the Board of Education.