By Rebekah Martin
Mayor Gary Fuller, along with Opelika City Council members and Opelika High School staff and administrators recognized Dr. Jim Whatley at last week’s council meeting, for his 36 years of service as the Opelika High School football team doctor upon his retirement. Former coach Spence McCracken spoke highly of Whatley and the years he spent on the Opelika sidelines. “Since I moved to Opelika 21 years ago … he has been more than just a good doctor friend, but he’s one of those kind of guys who is always there if you need him. He won’t put you off, if you need seeing, he’ll see you,” McCracken said. “He’s been kind to me. I remember when we lost Cory Larkin and Jason Finley in the same year to knee injuries, it was hard for him to tell me that ‘Hey, they’re done’ The way he dealt with his patients was just incredible.”
Current coach Brian Blackmon added that Whatley has been a blessing to the players and coaches of Opelika High School. “Twenty years ago, I moved here and I was amazed at the fact that Opelika had a guy like Dr. Whatley, who could be there constantly,” Blackmon said. “We are really blessed to have a guy who has sacrificed and dedicated so much of his time and service … I know you have a lot of memories from those sidelines, too, Doc. and we just to tell you that we love you … and are very thankful for all your service to Opelika High School.”
Fuller also recognized Opelika Power Services AMEA scholarship recipients Tanner Blatt, Scot Carpenter and Will McKee. Fuller, along with Derek Lee, OPS director, recognized the young men for their achievements. “It’s $2500 [scholarship] to the school of their choice, it can go toward books, tuition, or any of their costs. AMEA, which Opelika is a member of, does this every year,” said Derek Lee, the new director of Opelika Power Services. “It awards three students, whose parents are customers of Opelika Power Services, and it’s a elected by a committee that’s independent, so congratulations to each of you.”
“It’s no secret that Opelika has an outstanding student body, and these young men are leaders among those students. We’re just proud of their achievements on and off the field and in and out of the classroom,” Opelika High School assistant principal Russ Hardwick said.
In other business, the council:
-Named Antoine Harvis to the Opelika City Schools Board of Education. Harvis will fill the position of Joe Pinkard.
-Approved a temporary request for a one-way street for Garden in the Park May 7.
-Authorized a higher entry salary for a controller position up to $100,000
-Authorized the demolition of a dilapidated structure at 506 S. Fourth St.
-Awarded a bid for IBM hardware and software maintenance for the IT department to SPS VAR, LLC in the amount of $54,930.
-Awarded a bid for one vertical lift path skid steer loader for the public works department to Rental Inc. in the amount of $52,576.