BY MICHELLE KEY
The Opelika City Council and Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller issued a proclamation declaring January 2023 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month during its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
The proclamation reads as follows:
WHEREAS, human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which victims are forced to work in various forms of exploitation, including debt bondage, forced marriage, labor and commercial sexual exploitation of adults and minors, that are induced through force, fraud, or coercion. The City of Opelika, Alabama is committed to ensuring that our community is prepared to recognize signs of human trafficking; and
WHEREAS, the City of Opelika seeks to enhance public welfare, protect public safety, and promote human flourishing for all residents and visitors by declaring that freedom from human trafficking is a fundamental human right; and
WHEREAS, due to its isolating nature, many individuals remain unaware that trafficking is a threat to their neighborhoods, families, and children. The first step in eliminating human trafficking in our community is to educate others. We must work diligently to ensure that all front-line industries, educators and first responders are aware of this issue and how to spot it; and
WHEREAS, the City of Opelika has proudly earned its certification as a “Trafficking Free City” by combating the human trafficking of our children and vulnerable adults and mitigating the associated public safety, economic and health risks to our community in collaboration with the Child Trafficking Solutions Project and other anti-human trafficking organizations; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gary Fuller, Mayor of the city of Opelika, Alabama do hereby proclaim January 2023 as “Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in Opelika, Alabama and encourage all residents to join us in raising the visibility of this crime and to become more informed about ways to prevent, to recognize and to respond to potential victims of human trafficking in our community.
The proclamation was presented to Worthy2 Founder Kathryn Guthrie in appreciation for her work toward the goal of ending human trafficking in the community.
“I am very proud of Opelika and what y’all have done,” Guthrie said. “Chief Healey, Capt. Clifton and all, we have met several times and have some things planned for this coming year, and it is an honor how Opelika has stepped forward and not only recognize this but taking action against it.”
IN OTHER BUSINESS
• The council voted to approve a request from the BigHouse Foundation for a 5K Event to be held at Grand National on Jan. 21.
• The council approved the purchase of a John Deere 7200A mower for the Public Works Department for just over $50,000.
• The council approved the purchase of a Bobcat Compact Excavator E60 R2 for Opelika Power Services for nearly $68,000 after a trade-in allowance of $45,000.
• The council approved the purchase of two 2023 Ford F150 SuperCrew pickup trucks for Opelika Power Services utilizing the state of Alabama Contract #T191 for about $80,200.
• The council voted to suspend the rules and vote on an ordinance to amend the city of Opelika Personnel Policies and Procedures manual after it was introduced for its first reading. The ordinance was passed. The significant changes include a change in the period of time required for firefighters to be eligible for promotions — a decrease from two years to 18 months — and an increase in the number of paid holiday hours for police officers as it pertains to the addition of Juneteenth as a state holiday.