BY MICHELLE KEY
The Opelika City Council met Tuesday night for its regularly scheduled meeting.
During the work session prior to the meeting, Dr. Chenavis Evans, founder of Critical Insights Consulting LLC, (CIC) presented the council members and Mayor Gary Fuller with an overview of the Policing and Me curriculum and other programs that were implemented in Opelika in partnership with the Opelika Police Department last year.
“We built a program called Knowledge is Power and [also] Policing and Me and put them into the school system and our young people love it,” Evans said. “We had over 117 young people give us feedback and 76% of them said that it should be mandatory in school system.”
CIC also created the 20 Under 20 Program, a Leadership Development program and the Ambassador of Change program and works closely with the OPD with all of these programs.
Police Chief Shane Healey, who was unable to attend the meeting due to other obligations, sent a letter to the council, which was read to the council members by Capt. Tony Amerson.
“You always hear me say that we will change the world, starting in Opelika,” Amerson read. “The projects, programs and initiatives we have started with Dr. Evans have already impacted many in our city.”
Healey’s letter went on to discuss the future of the programs.
“The upcoming year is only going to bring more positive [results]; by continuing the work we are doing with Critical Insights, we will not only sustain the momentum we have but we will pick up speed.”
During the regular meeting, the council voted 3-to-1 to approve a new engagement letter with CIC for professional services at a cost not to exceed $659,750.
Ward 2 Council Member and President Pro-Tem Erica Baker-Norris stated that she has concerns about the cost of the program and subsequently voted against approving the resolution.
“I appreciate the information she [Evans] provided, unfortunately the school system is not providing any funds with this and that is concerning,” Baker-Norris said. “I am also concerned that the price of over $600,000 dollars did not go down, but went up even after this program has been in place for a year.”
Baker-Norris did acknowledge the positive outcomes of the programs.
“I definitely know that there have been some positive outcomes from this program, however, I am very concerned about the cost, especially when I serve a community that is seeking things like affordable housing, water and sewer concerns and things of that nature,” she said.
Ward 5 Council Member Todd Rauch had positive things to say about the program and voted to approve the resolution.
“I would take this opportunity to thank Dr. Evans and Chief Healey and Capt. Amerson for their hard work,” Rauch said. “This program is critical to our community and especially the future of our community. This sets us above any other town in the state of Alabama.”
Ward 1 Council Member George Allen said, “And we get great results.”
Baker-Norris was the sole dissenting vote with the other three council members in attendance voting to approve the new contract.
Fuller issued a proclamation to Janataka Holmes for the upcoming Juneteenth Celebration to be held on June 19 at Courthouse Square. The council later approved a resolution for a special appropriation in the amount of $1,250 for the event.
The council held several public hearings during the meeting and offered a time for public comments.
Lee County District 5 Commissioner Elect John Andrew Harris thanked the council for holding meetings and public hearings in regards to redistricting.
Members of the community once again spoke out against the proposed apartment complex project known as The Taylor.
Opelika resident and business owner, Deke Hilyer, spoke in favor of the text amendments in the zoning ordinance that would allow conditional 100% residential use in C1 zones.
The current ordinance requires that the bottom floor of commercial buildings in the C1 zones house retail business and does not allow for residential use.
IN OTHER BUSINESS
– The council voted to approve an application for a Lounge Retail Liquor – Class 1 and Retail Beer on Premise alcohol license for Copper Bear Associates, LLC dba The Ozone Lounge.
– The council voted to approve an application for a Retail Beer and Wine Off Premise Alcohol License for Quiktrip Corporation dba Quiktrip No.7172.
– The council approved a bid in the amount of $39,580 from Auburn Electrical Construction Inc, for UPS Replacement at City Hall for the Information Technology (IT) Department.
– The council approved a bid in the amount of $158,500 from Auburn Audio Visual for a downtown speaker system.
– The council approved a bid from Williams Fire Apparatus for fire apparatus inspections and preventative maintenance.
– The council approved a bid from Waste Management for a three-year contract for garbage and cardboard dumpster and roll-off services.
– The council approved a resolution to purchase a three-year contract for the mailing system.
– The council approved the purchase of body armor for the police department.
– The council approved three resolutions to purchase four different Ford trucks for the Public Works department.
– The council approved a resolution for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city of Opelika and Opelika City Schools (OCS) for the School Resource Officer (SRO) program.
– The council approved two weed abatement liens after the required public hearings. The properties are: 1733 First Ave. and 403 Raintree St.
– The council approved a special appropriation in the amount of $2,500 for the Sound Wall Initiative for the 3rd Annual Songwriters Festival.
– The council approved an ordinance to amend the zoning ordinance and map to rezone 7 acres located in the 2500 block of Frederick Road.
– The council approved an ordinance to amend the zoning ordinance and map to rezone 6 acres located near the intersection of Old Opelika Road and Frederick Road.
– The council introduced for first reading an ordinance to amend the text of Zoning Ordinance Section 7.3C use categories “Duplex, Mausoleums, Columbariums and Crematoriums.