By Natalie Anderson
During last Tuesday’s Opelika City Council meeting, the board heard from concerned residents about a range of topics from property, overgrown land and most importantly the recent events occurring in our country. Starting with a joint prayer, local ministers Hamlet Barnes and Kevin Flannagen encouraged unity.
“Like you, I was shocked, angered, saddened by the tragic and needless death of George Floyd,” Mayor Gary Fuller said. “Every Opelika police officer that I’ve spoken with feels as I do.”
“Now is the time for our community, state and nation to choose love and tolerance along with kindness and understanding,” Fuller added. “I want to commend the organizers of the demonstration last Saturday at the Courthouse Square and the folks who attended. It was peaceful, and I believe the message was well received by our community.”
Opening the citizens communication session, senior at University of Alabama in Birmingham and Opelika native Natalie Simpkins offered suggestions on how to help Opelika’s racial progress. Such ideas included residents having access to training materials from the Opelika police department, allowing high school students to register to vote at their schools the day they turn 18, having city employees undergo bias training and encouraging law enforcement to actively engage and communicate with minority groups in the community.
“I’m encouraged today to see a diverse set of people willing to see change,” Simpkins said. “I want Opelika to be a beacon of light.”
Opelika resident Izaak Standridge also voiced concern and spoke to the council about the role of policing in the community and city budget.
“I want to start by saying that I believe that budgets are a reflection of our values and goals. After reviewing our (city’s) budget I was surprised to see that our largest expenditure is public safety, coming in at around 29% of the budget,” Standridge said. “In regards to domestic violence, what if there were resources for individuals experiencing abuse at the hands of their partner that would allow them to meet a professional at a safe place to discuss their options?”
In other business, the council:
approved a request for Collinwood Christmas luminaries on Dec. 18
approved a bid for vacuum excavation and utility daylight services for OPS
approved a bid for substation U bushings for OPS
approved a resolution to designate city personal surplus and authorize disposal
approved a refund of building permit fees to Maurice Ward
approved a contract award for a city wide paving project to East Alabama Paving Co. Inc.
approved a contract award for general roadway improvements to Robinson Paving Co. Inc.
approved an amendment to project development agreement with 280 Land Company, LLC. and
accepted dedication of right-of-way of Lowe’s drive.
The character trait for the month of June is “cooperation,” and the next city council meeting will be held on June 16 at the Municipal Court located at 300 Martin Luther King Blvd.