By Michelle Key

Mayor Gary Fuller and the Opelika City Council honored Opelika Police Officer Grant Gow with a Life Saver Award during Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Gow took lifesaving actions while responding to a single-car traffic accident on April 27. The individual had a severe compound fracture with a bleeding wound that was life-threatening. His quick-thinking actions saved the individual’s life.

June 4 was also declared to be National Gun Violence Awareness Day with a proclamation that was presented to members of the Moms Demand Action group. The group asked that supporters wear the color orange on June 4. According to the proclamation, “Orange is a color that symbolizes the value of human life and by wearing orange on June 4 Americans will raise awareness about gun violence and honor the lives of gun violence victims and survivors and encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep our children safe.”

Fuller and the council also recognized the Opelika ARPA Boys and Girls state track and field teams for their recent successes in competition, The group took 40 athletes to the state competition and the girls team came in second place overall with the boys ranking fourth. 

Other Business

– Opelika resident, John Andrew Harris spoke during the public hearing segment of the meeting and requested information regarding funds that the city will receive from the CARES Act. He requested that the topic be placed on the agenda for the June 15 meeting.

– The council approved expense reports from various departments as well as an expense report submitted by Ward 5 Councilman Todd Rauch.

– The council approved a request refund of occupational fees paid in error.

– The council approved the purchase of two 2021 Chevrolet Tahoes from Donahue Chevrolet for the Opelika Fire Department.

– The council approved current and future invoices with Motorola Solutions, Inc. for Lifecycle Management Services for the Opelika Police Department.

– The council approved the funding for an emergency repair to a city vehicle.

– The council approved an ordinance to amend the Zoning Ordinance and Map to rezone 17.8 acres of land located at 5067 Birmingham Highway.

– The council held the first reading of an ordinance to approve a quitclaim deed to Armetta Johnson to clear up title to two pieces of property.

– The council held the first reading of an ordinance to approve an option to purchase an easement with Vertical Bridge Acquisitions, LLC.

– The council approved a motion to reappoint Tim Aja to the Indian Pines Recreation Authority for a new term ending June 7, 2025.

Before the meeting was adjourned, Ward 2 Councilwoman Erica Baker-Norris addressed the council pertaining to remarks made during the last council meeting by Opelika resident, Oscar Penn. During the May 18 meeting Penn had requested that Baker-Norris [and the council] continue to go along with the contract with Critical Insights, a contract in which, Baker-Norris had some questions or issues with as previously reported.

“I want to state for the record that I did take the time to think about what Mr. Penn stated and that my comments do not change, they are still the same,” Baker-Norris said. She explained that she was unsure of the changes that Penn mentioned regarding the safety of some of the Ward 2 communities. “On the day that he stated that things had greatly improved, was the same day on Vero Court there was a shooting,” she said. “I do hope that Critical Insights and Ambassadors for Change, which I believe Mr. Penn allegedly is receiving payments from, does make a positive change and I am certainly willing to work with them.”

Baker-Norris stated that she just wanted to put that on the record. The meeting was then adjourned.

Penn addressed the accusation that he was receiving money from either of the two organizations. When asked if he had received funds, Penn said, “None whatsoever, everything I do is volunteer.” Penn said that he plans to address the accusation publicly during the next council meeting.

What Penn would have received monies for  remains unclear and Baker-Norris declined to offer any additional comments addressing the accusation after the meeting.

Critical Insights Consulting and Ambassadors for Change Founder, Dr. Chenavis Evans issued the following statement regarding the matter. “I have not, will not, never considered, and have never been asked by Oscar Penn or anyone else to receive any form of payment or nothing.”